If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, ARTNews may receive an affiliate commission.
If you’re prone to working with different materials, you’ll need some good-quality mixed media paper to capture your vision. These papers are engineered to be diverse surfaces that often can accept both wet and dry media. Of course, your go-to product will depend on your preferred medium, as some papers have better water resistance than others, carry coarser surfaces, or have special qualities that allow them to tolerate specific creative processes. Find the best brand for your needs in our picks below.
1. Canson XL Series Mix Media Paper
This finely textured paper is ideal for artists who like to work big. Bright white and thick, it comes in the form of a roll—available in two sizes—that you can trim to your ideal dimensions. It takes dry media, from pencils to charcoal, very well, but you have to exercise more caution with wet media such as watercolors and ink, as the surface can warp with too much liquid. A gentle touch, and light washes, are best when it comes to fluid media.
2. Yupo Paper White Sheets
Made of polypropylene, these synthetic papers offer an impressively versatile surface that can be painted on, used for silk screening and printmaking, drawn on with pastels and graphite, and more. They excel at repelling water, so you can lay down layers of watercolors, for instance, and the surface won’t ripple. The paper is highly durable and supersmooth—no stretching needed here! And since the surface is nonporous, inks and paints flow beautifully on it and pigments retain their vibrancy. It’s also very forgiving: You can simply wipe clean any mistakes. These are inspiring sheets, worth buying even if you don’t have a specific project in mind for them.
3. UCreate Mixed Media Art Paper
This ream of papers is ideal for high-volume usage—like for classroom projects or crafting in households with inspired kids. Each sheet has a good weight to it and can handle most dry and wet media, including common craft supplies like markers, oil pastels, tempera paint, and watercolors. These papers are quite smooth, presenting a less complex surface than some of our other picks, but they will hold up well to inspired, uninhibited art-making.
4. Stillman & Birn Nova Series
If you are looking for a toned paper, it’s hard to resist these quality sheets. The fairly lightweight 100-pound sheets are nevertheless strong enough that can lay on light washes of wet media like watercolors and gouache without worrying about buckling; apply ink without feathering; and erase away without piling. This durability stems from each sheet being both internally sized (meaning the pulp has been treated to decrease wettability) and surface sized (meaning the surface has been treated to increase water resistance). Each pack contains five 22-by30-inch sheets.
5. Strathmore 500 Series Bristol Vellum Surface
This is an artist-grade drawing paper that is appropriate for dry and wet media from pencils to pastels to acrylics. The 100 percent cotton, four-ply sheets provide a durable surface that can even tolerate light layers of washes without warping. Each presents Strathmore’s “vellum” finish—a gently textured finish that looks natural and shows off subtleties in shading and tone. Each sheet measures 23 by 29 inches.