Best Pastel Papers

written by Sophie | Beginners, Pastel
Sophie Ploeg Pastel papers

Over the years I have worked with quite a few pastel papers and found some personal favourites. There are a lot of pastel papers out there and for any beginning pastel artist it could be an overwhelming amount of choice. So in this post I’d like to introduce you to my favourite pastel papers. I can update this post when I try new ones out to let you know how I fared.

So without further ado these are my favourites:
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Art Spectrum Colourfix

Colourfix is my favourite pastel paper. It comes in pads as well as large sheets of 50x70cm and is 300gsm. For larger surfaces you can buy the primer in a pot and apply it to your own support. I have never tried the primer but the sheets are wonderfully hardwearing. It can take almost endless layers of pastel. It can take wet applications, it can take different materials such as acrylics, ink etc. It comes in a range of wonderful colours. I like the greyish tones and the earth colours most. Best for pastel paintings with a lot of layering and multi-media applications.

Sennelier La Carte

Sennelier La Carte is a very soft and beautiful pastel card. Like Art Spectrum, it has a good tooth and and can take many layers of pastel. It is 360gsm card. So it is really suitable for full-on pastel paintings. It comes in sheets of 50x65cm and pads. The tooth is made up of some type of vegetable fibre, I believe, and therefore not waterproof. This paper must be kept away from moisture at all times and cannot be used with wet media. I have heard that not all colours are very light resistant so it would also be important to cover the paper with pastel. I am not sure this is true though.
On the up side, this paper is extremely soft and very beautiful. It has a hint of velvet about it and it particularly nice for soft and gentle portraits. It is one of the more expensive pastel papers out there. Best for pastel paintings with a lot of layering, portraiture.

Daler Rowney Murano

Daler’s Murano papers come in sheets of 50x65cm or pads. It is 160gsm paper, so a lot thinner than the pastel card by Sennelier or Art Spectrum. It is a texture paper with enough thickness to be able to take quite a bit of pastel. Although you can layer a bit, it is really most suitable for drawings. It is not suitable for wet media. It comes in lots of colours and is affordable to use.

Hahnemuhle Ingres

Ingres paper is a type of paper and can be bought from various brands. Good brands are Clairefontaine or Hahnemuhle. Ingres paper is a beautiful laid paper with a gentle texture and regular horizontal lines. It comes in weights around 100-130gsm. Because it is so thin it is definitely only suitable for drawings. You cannot put many layers of pastel on this paper. The paper is very beautiful and works well when left exposed. Best for sketches and light drawings.

canson mi-teintes

Canson Mi Teintes is a very well known paper because of its particularly recognisable texture. It has a mottled, honeycomb texture on one side and a flat surface on the other side. You can choose which side you prefer to use. It comes in gummed pads, spiral pads and loose sheets and is 160gms in weight. There are lots of colours available. This is an excellent paper although I find the honeycomb texture too pronounced to use. Great for sketches, drawings and light paintings. It can take some layering but not too much.

Canson Mi-Teintes Touch pastel paper

On the recommendation of an artist friend I tried Mi-Teintes Touch and loved it. It is a heavy card (350gsm) with a suede-like textured surface that is very soft to the touch. It can take a good amount of layering and is suitable for very fine detail. See for my review of this paper, this blog post.

hahnemuhle velour paper

Velour paper is not for everyone but some love it. It is a heavy card of 250gsm in weight and has a fluffy velvety texture on it. The texture is so high and soft that it is hard to make sharp and strong lines as everything gets automatically softened by the texture of the paper. The effect is soft and sometimes even fuzzy, but used well it can create beautiful pastel paintings. Some fixative might be required as pastel particles could stick to the tips of the texture and not be very secure on the paper. It is a fragile support to use for pastel paintings but if used carefully and right can give great effects.

ampersand pastelbord

Pastelbord is a very popular support for pastel painters. It is a hardwood surface of about 3mm thick. It has a special finish to make it suitable for pastel. It is a fairly rough surface (fin sandpaper texture) and so can take a lot of pastel layers. It can also take other media such as acrylics, pencil and much more. Its rigid structure makes it easy to frame and transport. It comes in white and grey only (in the UK, more colours in the US)  and is not a paper but a hardboard panel with a layer of granular marble dust. It is suitable for wet media and totally archival. It is more expensive than the other pastel papers.

Sophie Ploeg Pastel Papers

Hugely popular amongst pastel artists, Pastelmat is a heavy weight card (360gsm) and has a velvety or suede-like texture to it. It is very soft to the touch. Painting on it gives a very slight fuzzy effect and hence the paper lends itself very well for atmospheric pieces. It can take a surprising number of pastel layers; while working on it I cannot fill the tooth. It is suitable for wet media as well as pastel so multi-media artists can work with watercolour and acrylics as well.Comes in various (mainly cool) colours, pads, sheets and 3mm thick boards.

Popular sanded pastel paper in 7 different grades, Uart Pastel Paper comes  in only two colours: black and off-white. The 7 grades vary from very coarse to very fine, but all grades can take numerous layers of pastel. The paper makes the pastel glide onto the paper, giving it a very soft and velvety feel. Comes in pads, sheets and boards.

I would love to know if you have any experiences with some of these papers or perhaps you have a favourite I have not mentioned? Do add your comments below to complement and complete this article for all readers. I look forward to hearing your experiences!

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Published: October 17, 2017

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  1. I live Pastelmat, Uart and Lux Archival. Has anyone tried Hahnemuhle? I like their watercolor paper, and the pastel paper is considerably less expensive. Thinking of giving it a try.

    1. Hahnemuhle does some nice velour paper (if you like velours papers!) and a good range of lighter weight drawing papers (Ingres, Lana, etc).

  2. I purchased for Velour Paper. I thought I'd like this velvet paper because of the velvet tooth. The pastel doesn't smear like regular pastel paper which is a big plus but it is almost impossible to erase on it. it's also expensive…

    1. Yes, velour paper has its own characteristics and it might take some time to get used to it! But some artists create magic on it, so it sure is worth trying out.

  3. Hi!
    How lovely to find your site! I have done pastels on 80 lb Strathmore drawing paper with very happy results. You can see some samples on my Instagram page:
    I like the spiral binding of a sketchbook, and like ending up with a book of pastels, that can be digitized as needed. I do usually spray a workable fixative such as Krylar.

  4. I really like the Uart Dark paper in 500 grit. And it’s only “dark”, not black. It’s more of a dark charcoal color. I like the texture of the 500. I’m not as fond of the 800. However, being dark paper, it tends to make artists start their paintings too dark and have to spend a lot of time and layers bringing the tone up. I would love it if Uart made other colors or a more middle-toned paper.

    1. I bet Uart is going to bring us coloured paper too in the future. I don’t know of course, just have a feeling. I mean, why wouldn’t they! Thanks for your comment, Laurie.

    1. That’s cool – to ‘make’ your own paper like that. And yes Mi-teintes and Ingres has little tooth, so it won’t suit all. 🙂

  5. I really like both Pastelmat and Uart sanded paper. I have been using Pastelmat for about six years. I only used Wallis before that, but when that went out of production, I found Pastelmat. I now use Uart 600 and Pastelmat exclusively.

  6. I absolutely love UART sanded paper. I have only worked on 600, but it is available in many grades, 240-800. The only drawback is that it only comes in a neutral creamy tone, (apparently black is available in some places). This paper takes endless amounts of pastel and can pretty much handle anything. Pastelmat is also great, just a bit pricier. Just bought 2 large sheets of the Canson Touch and am anxious to give it a go. Thanks for all the great advice!

    1. Hi Olivia! I don’t know UART paper – must look it up! thank you for adding this suggestion! Let us know how you like the Canson Touch? I was pretty pleased with it and might even opt for it instead of my usual Colourfix….

  7. I’ve tried quite a few pastel papers and pastelmat is hands down the best for me. In fact I came to your blog because I wanted to see how the ingres and murano worked with a wet medium because I have quite a bit of it and I don’t really want to use it for pastel work any more because I feel that the pastelmat is so much better. Can use the murano for pencil drawings I suppose. I like the sennelier la carte too, although it’s not as versatile as pastelmat. I’ve never tried colourfix fix but it sounds similar to pastelmat according to your description. Thanks for your info. Cheers Elaine.

    1. Hi Elaine
      thanks for your input. I must, must try the pastelmat everyone talks about! It seems the most popular one. Murano and Ingres are not suitable for wet mediums I imagine as it is way too thin and the paper would fall apart. You can use colourfix for wet mediums and also Mi-Teintes Touch. Thanks again!

  8. Hello Sophie. I won some Ampersand pastelboard at Patchings a few years ago, I had mixed results with it. It’s great for mark making as its a really hard surface and can take a few layers of pastel but once it loses its tooth everything becomes a bit smudgy and blurry. It’s indestructible too, which makes it wonderful for framing but not if you want to crop your painting down a little, a knife won’t cut it only a saw is up for the job (which is a nightmare!!)
    My personal favourite is Sennlier Pastelboard. A great paper which takes a lot of pastel and comes in a lovely range of colours. I’ve not tried Pastelmat either but I’ve heard some very good things about it. Right, I’m off to have a look around the rest of your beautiful website! Robin.

    1. Hi Robin, thanks so much for contributing with your experience. Good point re the pastelboard not being able to cut it down easily. I often cut my pastel paintings to size. I suppose with pastelbord one has to work as if it is stretched canvas, you have to think about the format and size beforehand. Thanks for you tips!

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