Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Compare watercolor papers: Fabriano Artistico, Extra White

This is part five of twelve in my series of watercolor paper tests, comparisons, and reviews. Here I am testing Fabriano Artistico, Extra White, rough, cold press, and soft press. Hot press is tested in a separate post. See this post for introduction and photos of all the papers and this post for conclusions.

Fabriano Artistico, Extra White

  • Finish and weight: Rough, cold press and soft press, 140 lb. (300 gsm) (for hot press, read this post)
  • Composition: 100% cotton, chlorine and acid free, no optical bleaching
  • Manufacturing: Mould made
  • Sizing: Internal and external sizing
  • Website info

Paper color


Watercolor brightness

Yes, watercolors retain their brightness on this paper.

Fabriano Artistico, Extra White, cold press with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Fabriano Artistico, Extra White, rough with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Fabriano Artistico, Extra White, soft press with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.


Paper texture

Fabriano Artistico comes in four very different textures (for hot press see separate post). The cold press is very textured in a "gridded" pattern that I find a bit too noticeable. The pattern is more pronounced than either Strathmore, Arches, or Canson Moulin du Roy.

The soft press is a silky smooth surface, somewhere between cold press and hot press. There is not enough texture for big granulation effects, but the almost woven look of the texture makes for a tapestry-like look in large washes that I find quite intriguing.

The rough texture is a deeply pebbled texture with numerous small indentations and more pronounced than Arches rough. Still, it feels surprisingly smooth to paint on, even though granulation becomes very pronounced on this surface with the heavier pigments collecting in the indentations.

Paper sizing and absorbency

The cold press is quite absorbent and soaks up paint and water fast. The soft press, in contrast, is harder sized but paint sinks in without backruns. The paint is very active on these surfaces and spreads fast.

The rough paper is as absorbent as the other rough papers. Both the cold press and rough surfaces feel abrasive to the brush.

Fabriano Artistico, Extra White, cold press with watercolors
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Fabriano Artistico, Extra White, rough with watercolors
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Fabriano Artistico, Extra White, soft press with watercolors
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.


Paper cockling

This paper cockles similar to Arches if left unstretched. The rough surface cockles the most of the papers I tested. Soft press cockled the least of the Fabriano papers.

Pencil/pen/brush and ink

When using a pencil on the cold press, I can feel the paper texture and the pencil "etches" through the sizing. Some ghosting is left after deleting. The texture combined with the absorbency of the paper make pen lines a bit uneven.

The soft press takes both pen and pencil well and the instruments glide smoothly. Pencil lines delete well but some ghosting remains. However, the paper is still quite absorbent so pen lines may look a bit jagged.

The rough surface feels very rough for pencil lines but deletes well. Pen lines turn out surprisingly even despite the texture and the rough surface feels quite smooth to draw on. Brush and ink strokes turn out black and glossy and with slightly rough edges on all three surfaces.

Joy factor

I found the soft press a joy to both paint and draw on; silky, smooth, responsive, and a bit different!

Cost and availability

Fabriano Artistico Extra White is available as sheets, rolls, and blocks. I could only find soft press as sheets and rolls.
  • List price for a 22”x30” sheet is $10.25, online it can be found for less than half that price, a little over $4.

History and continuity

Fabriano is an Italian paper mill that dates back to 1264. Since 2002, Fabriano belongs to the Fedrigoni Group of Verona, Italy.

Fabriano Artistico, one of its watercolor papers, is still made at the Fabriano plant. The Traditional White was originally introduced as Artistico in the late 1970s and the Extra White introduced as Uno around 1996. They have been marketed under their current names since 2003.


Fabriano Artistico Extra White is one of the whiter watercolor papers I tested and made of 100% cotton. I found the rough texture too prominent for granulating colors and also the cold press has a pattern that is quite visible. The soft press falls between cold and hot press and works well with watercolors, pen and pencil. All three surfaces work very well with brush and ink.

Översättning. Fabriano Artistico är ett italienskt akvarellpapper som härstammar från 1264 och som fortfarande tillverkas i Fabriano. Liksom Arches är Fabriano ett välkänt märke. Extra White, vilket jag har testat här, introducerades 1996 och Traditional White i slutet av 1970-talet, då under andra namn. Fabriano Artistico är ett papper av 100% bomull som finns i fyra ytstrukturer, grov, fin, mjuk och slät.

Både fin och grov gräng har ett utpräglat mönster i sin ytstruktur, alltför framträdande för granulerande pigment i mitt tycke. De känns båda ganska sträva och absorberar mycket vatten. Den grova grängen absorberade mest vatten av alla de papper jag testade och bucklade mest vid test utan fuktspänning. Mjuk gräng (soft press) ligger mellan den fina och den släta grängen och har en nästan “vävd” ytstruktur, är hårt limmat och i mitt tycke värt att testa. 

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