Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Compare watercolor papers: Strathmore Ready Cut, 500 Series

This is part two of twelve in my series of watercolor paper tests, comparisons, and reviews. Here I am testing Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut, cold press and hot press. See this post for introduction and photos of all the papers and this post for conclusions.

Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut

    • Finish and weight: Cold press and hot press, 140 lb. (300 gsm)
    • Composition: 100% cotton, acid free
    • Sizing: Hard sizing
    • Website info

    Paper color

    This paper is slightly cooler (whiter) than the Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor.

    Watercolor brightness

    Yes, the colors remain bright as long as they are relatively saturated.

    Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut cold press with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
    © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

    Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut hot press with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
    © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.


    Paper texture

    As mentioned earlier, several of Strathmore’s papers have a similar texture. Ready Cut belongs to the same family as Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor and Strathmore 500 Series Imperial. All of these show granulating colors nicely, especially in large washes.

    The Ready Cut hot press paper, just like the Imperial hot press, is really more of a softer cold press than a smooth hot press and shows off granulation with more of a "cloudy" texture.

    Paper sizing and absorbency

    The cold press surface feels both harder to the touch and harder sized than the 400 Series Watercolor, and is a little abrasive to the brush (the brush makes a slight noise when painting).

    The hot press surface is harder sized than the cold press, but still no backruns in my test.

    Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut cold press with watercolors
    © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

    Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut hot press with watercolors
    © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

    Paper cockling

    Yes, but less than the 400 Series Watercolor if used unstretched.

    Pen/pencil/brush and ink

    Both cold press and hot press feel harder, smoother and a bit less responsive than the 400 Series Watercolor. They also feel a bit less rough for pencil and pen work. Due to the harder sizing, pencil lines are less black and delete well. Lines on the hot press paper delete the best of the Strathmore papers, on the cold press some ghosting remains. Ink strokes are less black, less glossy and dry unevenly. For a similar but more responsive paper, see Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor (but this paper is not 100% cotton).

    Cost and availability

    Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut is available only as “Ready Cut” packs of sheets and neither as pads nor larger sheets.
    • List price for a pack of six 11”x14” sheets (the largest size) is $11.19, online it can be found for around $7.

    Since I prefer a different size of paper, this lack of choice is inconvenient, but as the paper is very good in my opinion, I hope it will soon come in more choices. On my wishlist are sizes such as 9"x12" and 18 x24" pads as well as professional size 20”x30” sheets - and a different and more appropriate name!

    History and continuity

    This paper is fairly new to the market (2011) and so far only available in the “Ready Cut” format. I hope that Strathmore will make this paper a permanent member of their portfolio as I find it well suited for modern watercolor painting; it is a very white paper, 100% cotton, with hard sizing, reminding me a bit of Canson’s latest rollout Moulin du Roy but harder sized. It is made in the United States. For more information about Strathmore, see this post.


    This paper is a good choice if you like Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor but are looking for a 100% cotton paper. The hot press paper is really just a different, softer, version of the cold press, so that is another option. Another alternative is the Strathmore 500 Series Imperial. Both cold press and hot press feel a bit harder and more abrasive to the brush or pen due to the hard sizing and pen lines are slightly less black.

    Översättning. Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut är ett nyare papper från 2011 som påminner lite om Canson’s nysatsning Moulin du Roy men är hårdare limmat. Ready Cut är ett vitt, hårt limmat papper av 100% bomull som ännu så länge bara finns tillgängligt som ark i mindre format.

    Ytstrukturen ingår i samma familj som Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor och Strathmore 500 Series Imperial och liksom Imperial är den släta grängen mer av en mjukare fingrängad yta. Ready Cut är, liksom Imperial, ett bra alternativ av 100% bomull till 400 Series Watercolor.

    Liksom 400 Series Watercolor framhäver ytstrukturen granulerande pigment och den hårdare limningen tillåter vidarearbetning av färgen. Dock känns ytan hårdare och mindre responsiv och både blyerts och tuschpenna får en lite gråare ton.

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