Portrait Drawing Paper

The paper you draw on has a vast impact on your finished piece. The first issue is the paper archival? If you do not care about keeping them in the future, such as thumbnail sketches, being archival is of no great importance. But, if you want to keep your drawings for years to come, archival is a must. The image below is work from thirty-years ago, but because archival materials were used it looks as if it were made yesterday.

Portrait Drawing Paper

The lowest grade of nonarchival paper generally used is newsprint. It yellows and becomes brittle quickly. If you have ever had newspaper clippings fall apart, you know what I mean.

drawing paper manila

Strathmore 307-318 300 Series Mega Newsprint Pad, Rough 18″x24″ Tape Bound, 60 Sheets

Commonly found in flat sheets you can also sometimes purchase ends of rolls from your local print newspaper by the pound. I use such paper to cover some of my work surfaces. By replacing the paper, I can have a quick clean surface to work.

Cold Pressed

Paper marked cold press is rough texture on the surface. It is for pastel, watercolor or free charcoal work. There are individual papers marketed just to those areas because they tend to have more tooth to the paper and can grab the medium.

Hot Pressed

Hot pressed paper traditionally works well for portrait and detailed figure work. There is less texture to the surface than hot pressed and the results give a smoother finished appearance.

I like using hot-pressed Rives BFK Printmaking paper when possible. Rives Bfk White 22×30 Pack Of 10
It can withstand a lot of abuse during the creative process and is archival. I have some left over from college days that I am currently using for head studies. Originally I had created test-lithographs on one side. It is strong enough that I can simply turn it over and use the backside without fear of shadowing appearing from the previous use.

Art Paper watermarkPortrait Drawing Paper

Deckled edges are created when a paper is made by hand. If you want a similar look to your altered edges, use a ruler to create similar edges.

Portrait Drawing Paper


Bristol is an economical and readily available paper that is super smooth and can stand up to abuse. There is little to no tooth to the paper and provides a firm, smooth surface. Strathmore 11-Inch by 14-Inch Bristol Smooth Paper Pad, 20-Sheet

Whatever paper you get your hands on, practice those drawing skills as often as possible. The stronger your drawing skills, the stronger the foundation. Join our “100 Heads = 100 Days” challenge, get out your drawing materials and keep pushing yourself!