Best Paper for Colored Pencils

I get asked a lot what paper I use for coloring. The answer depends on whether I’m using markers, gel pens or colored pencils. For colored pencil coloring I like a paper with a bit of “tooth” (texture.) It gives the colored pencil wax and pigment room to set and blend.

My husband Steve and I recently recorded a video discussing my favorite brand and weight of paper for colored pencil coloring. You can watch below. I have also included a transcript below the video.

My Favorite Colored Pencil Paper

Springhill Vellum Bristol White 67# Cover 8.5″x11″ 250 sheets:

Video Transcript

Hi everyone this is Jennifer stay from coloring pages bliss and I wanted to make a quick video here to talk a little bit about paper, and specifically paper for the art I do. I have brought with me a very special guest: Steve stay! Welcome Steve.

Thank you, hello everybody!

If you are my YouTube audience, you may not be familiar with Steve. He is my husband and he has been my guest on my face book live events and I have brought him here because he is very knowledgeable about paper. I’m going to ask him a few questions as we go along and demonstrate why I choose the paper that I choose.

My husband and I recently went to the paper store here locally, to you know, source paper, and make sure we were still using the best paper possible. The first problem of course with paper is will it fit in your printer. My website coloring pages bliss.com is primarily a site where you can download my art and print out a beautiful coloring page and then you can color it.

Recently I have started a new YouTube series where you can see me demonstrating all these beautiful color pencils and putting them through all kinds of tests and I am using the same paper on every single test to keep it all consistent and I’m already getting questions on what paper I’m using so that’s why we’re here today; to talk about paper. Let’s talk about first of all when they talk about pounds on paper, you know you go to the paper store and it says 20-pound, 110 pound, 80-pound what is this pound thing they’re talking about?

Well first of all what they’re not talking about is the thickness of the paper. I think it’s probably easiest to just don’t really pay too much attention to the pounds just because you could have like a 20 pound text and a 20-pound cover or you know most likely a 50-pound text or 50 pound cover and they’re very different weights.

Ok so you’re using two words, you’re saying text and you’re saying cover right, so explain those two words.

Yeah so basically if you ever see text, that’s more your normal paper, your copy paper, so for instance you could have a 20-pound text that you buy from the store that’s your flimsy copy paper. So that this paper right here. This is like what you would print all your bills on and this is a boring standard paper but probably the least expensive paper you can buy. Its quite see through. Sometimes we’ll call it bond. So for instance copy paper like that is probably 20-pound bond or you may see it as 50-pound text and it’s the same way as far as thickness goes. That’s why it gets so confusing. When you’re talking about trying to look at pounds it’s not really very, you know, self-explanatory. Okay so we’re talking about text or bond is the really flimsy paper but when we start getting into cardstock, which is typically, I know what you like to color on.

Yeah I like cardstock.

Cardstock, the same way the copy paper has bonded and text, cardstock has three categories typically you have Bristol, you have index, and you have cover and it just depends on the paper manufacturer and what they call it but typically Bristol is a little lighter than like index which is a little lighter than cover. It just kind of depends on how heavy that paper is. The better number to look at is called gsm.

So you said Bristol

Yeah. You’ve heard of like index card?


Bristol, and index, those are all cards stocks.

So cover is not, I’m going to cross it out so text is standard copy paper, Bristol index and cover is cardstock. Okay I’m with that keep going.

Ok, so we’re not looking at pounds we’re looking at the gsm. gsm number ok it’s like grams per square meter.

When you go to the store on the end of the ream there’s this fancy label that you’re going to see and it’s got all kinds of information and so here is the pound, 80-pound, and is this edge, sometimes it will be G M Squared. It’s grams per meter squared or grams per square meter.

Ok g/m2 or gsm so that’s the same one so this one is 80 pound or 175 g m squared
Yeah so that’s the real number we’re looking for right and the reason that’s important is because you can match that number up to your printer because the printer that you buy or if you already have one you can go look up the specs for that printer it will list usually in gsm what weights it can support without Jamming. This is a really important thing to mention because we are talking about printing out coloring pages.

If you’re going to go to some sort of office store or to your library to print your coloring pages make sure you contact them and ask them what weight of paper they can manage on their printer because you don’t want to go invest in paper and then it not work. That is one issue we ran into and we wanted to buy some of this nice paper and our old printer would not run it. We thought it would because it was a nicer printer and we were sure it would work; and it didn’t. So we had to have to invest in a nicer not even nicer printer but a printer that would work that would feed through the heavier paper. This is really important. Make sure your printer will handle the gsm of the paper you’re purchasing.
Ok so we have text or standard paper that the gsm doesn’t really matter on that because this is going to be wimpier paper, but when we get into Bristol, index, cover or cardstock paper, then we need to be careful of the gsm or GM squared. That’s going to tell us if our printer is going to be happy most of the time. Especially when you get up into the higher gsm papers you’re going to need a printer that has a straight through paper path that doesn’t bring it in and curl it. Some printers which are the kind we purchased you can open the flap in the back and the paper just shoots straight out the back and therefore it doesn’t try to bend or manipulate the paper. This heavier paper just goes straight out the back, and the feeding wheels and all that don’t get as upset although we still have to sit there and babysit every single page we sent through.

Ok so what I’m showing you guys here is kind of what it would look like if you were to color on a standard paper. Here you can kind of see this standard copy paper does have a bit of, we’re going to use an art word here, which is tooth. Tooth is the art word for texture and if you were to go in really close with a microscope you can actually see that there’s little ridges on the paper and those are the teeth or the texture of the paper. Some paper is going to have more tooth than other paper and that’s what we’re looking for with colored pencil because color pencil grabs onto that tooth and holds on and that’s what lays it down. If you have enough tooth you can lay down layer after layer after layer of your color pencil, and get the beautiful effects that we’re all looking for.

So to have a perfectly smooth paper for color pencil is not what we’re after. We’re looking for just enough teeth to grab onto our pencil. If you look at this nice card stock here, you can totally see that this is a much smoother paper. You can’t see the white speckles, or those the teeth. What happens is the pencil goes across the tops of the tooth of the paper and you end up seeing the bottom of the ridges like the valleys of the tooth. Here we’re not seeing the bottom of the ridges so this is a very smooth paper here. This cardstock is not an ideal paper for colored pencil so I wouldn’t go to my paper man and say give me paper with tooth because he might not know what I’m talking about. What’re the words I would use at my paper store?

Usually they refer to smooth or vellum so those this paper would be a smooth.

Ok so we have smooth and then we have vellum so tell me the difference.

Ok so basically when it comes to the texture of the paper you have two categories: you have smooth paper, and then you’ll have a vellum paper. Smooth is nice and soft and slick like you’re saying, vellum is what I know you like to color with for colored pencil, and that’s because it has tooth. Vellum is the textured paper that has tooth.

Ok so vellum is going to have a tooth to it, which is what we’re after, so now if we move to this next paper this is what we have discovered is the kind of paper I like to color with, and when you look at the end of the ream, we should be able to understand what the title of this means. So we know vellum now, he just described means with texture or with the tooth, and we know that Bristol, from when we talked about the two different weights, Bristol means it’s a cover or cardstock, so they’re actually kind of being redundant here.

Right yeah it’s kind of a slightly lighter card stock.

Ok so they’re trying to be even more descriptive.


So we have a vellum which is means textured, Bristol or cover cardstock type paper, and then we can come down here and see the weight of the paper and learn more about this the size and all that.

So that’s how you would read the end of the reams. This is the kind of paper that we have in the past been using, this is the paper I’m using in the color pencil reviews the 80-pound, and it barely goes through our printer with the straight shot that we described. When we went to the paper company we discovered that the same Springhill digital vellum Bristol cover also comes in a 67 pound or as we now know is more important a 147 g/m squared.

This one is probably what I will end up purchasing and using more often now for my coloring pages. I’m going to stay consistent with 80-pound in my color pencil reviews but as a coloring artist this is what I would recommend to you guys to purchase, and we’re going to put a link to this in the description of this video, because this is going to work better in most people’s printers, and you get the beautiful vellum or tooth texture, and its still got some more rigidity to it because it’s still considered a Bristol, cover, or a cardstock.
Let me show it to you here and compare textures to what we just colored off here, and just so you know I’m using a prismacolor premier pencil.

So we’ve got both the 80-pound vellum Bristol and the 67-pound vellum Bristol and they should be, I would guess, about the same texture. We’ll find out here. So here is the prismacolor, I’m going to try to do the same pressure on both and we’ll see if they look about the same texture. Then we’ve got Fabre castell polychromos we’ll test it with that one as well. You can see right away with the vellum you get a beautiful tooth and you can layer this up and do all kinds of neat things.

It’s looking to me like this 67-pound may have a bit more tooth, which is kind of cool to me. This is an artist loft color pencil here, so this is a less expensive brand you can hear already that just by the sound that it’s a less expensive brand. Ok so that’s three different pencils we’ve tested off on it and we’ll bring it up and show you the difference that the two have. So either one you purchase you’re going to get great tooth. This one is more rigid than that one but this one is going to go through your printer better.

I think this one’s better because it’s got a little bit more tooth so like I said this is the winner and this is the one I’ll put the link to on our description. It’s pretty fantastic and when you start comparing it to the texture we were getting this was the prismacolor pencils here I believe let me just double-check I’ll, put another swatch right next to it to make sure we’re being fair, you can see we get much better texture coverage and especially when you compare here now. If you were coloring with markers, like say your copics, tombos or spectrum noirs, you’d want a smooth texture. You don’t want any kind of vellum because you’ll ruin the tips of your markers. You want to go nice and smooth. Keep that in mind when you go for texture. You’re looking at products like pastels and colored pencils that love to grip onto a toothy paper so keep that in mind. There’s still a place and a time for a smooth paper so on another video we’ll talk about smooth paper because I’m researching smooth papers right now, but I will take a picture of this, so you can kind of see the differences and see how beautiful.

You get much better tooth here. There’s still a little tooth here, but you get this really thin flimsy see through paper that’s not going to stand up too much abuse. You’ll easily tear this paper if you try to use anything like a mineral spirits, or if you try to use like Vaseline or something to do your blending, you’re going to have issues with this paper. Trust me I’ve had problems.

You’ll also notice a difference with like colorless blenders you’re going to have issues with these light papers and it will frustrate you so if you’re having frustrations with your coloring, you might want to look at your paper. That might be the first problem that you’re having and you might want to invest just a little extra money and get a ream of some better paper. It’s not that expensive. The link we give you is through Amazon, so it’s not that much more money and I think you get like 250 sheets of it so it’s going to set you up for a long time; a lot of printing of coloring pages. So go check out the link in the description. If you enjoyed this video make sure you hit like and share it with someone that you think would also like to learn more about paper, and the mysteries that are all this terminology.

Thank you Steve for helping us figure out all this terminology, and we will be doing a follow up video learning more about papers because there’s so much to learn. We’re also going to do, hopefully a follow video on printers. We might even go visit a store and learn about printers. Thank you very much you guys, and I hope you have a wonderful blissful colorful day bye bye!

28 comments… add one
  • Bonnie Myers Jan 11, 2017 @ 18:12

    I for one found this very helpful. I appreciate that I can come back and watch it again and again as I have a very short attention span and memory.
    Thank you Jennifer and Steve.

    • Jennifer Stay Jan 12, 2017 @ 11:48

      You’re welcome Bonnie. We’re so glad you find it helpful.

  • Jens-Uwe Jansen Jan 14, 2017 @ 18:30

    Great help. Although from where I am kinda self-explananatory. If you get a chance in a shop, feel it … the more texture under your fingers … the better it is for coloured pencils. There are not many Artshops around where I live. Best I could do is McPaper. I got a sketching notebook there with 100 gsm paper, by Daler-Rowney, which felt kinda nicely rough to the touch 🙂
    And being German I still have to translate the paper types to make something out of it so I can bulk order it 😉

  • simisherie Feb 10, 2017 @ 16:24

    I agree. I have always liked vellum, and card stock is the best. Thanks!

    • Jennifer Stay Feb 10, 2017 @ 17:39

      You’re welcome Sherie.

  • Nanette Feb 11, 2017 @ 20:40

    Wow! I didn’t know there was so much to learn about paper. I’m going to have to pin this article. Thanks!

  • Diana Feb 12, 2017 @ 0:18

    Yeah, the right paper is so hard to find without info!

  • Starr Patrick Feb 12, 2017 @ 17:21

    Thank you so much for the teaching me a lot about paper, it is so confusing. this video really explains a lot.

  • Terry L. Simmons Feb 15, 2017 @ 6:55

    Didn’t know there was a difference in paper. Thanks.

  • Boodeb54 Feb 23, 2017 @ 16:18

    Loved your info about different papers.

  • Mary Mar 3, 2017 @ 13:24

    Thanks for info! I always find this chart helpful when talking paper weights. http://coastalprint.com/convert_gsm_to_pounds/

    • Jennifer Stay Mar 3, 2017 @ 16:27

      You’re welcome Mary. Thank you for the link to that chart–looks very helpful.

  • Kuini Wakarua Mar 5, 2017 @ 19:27

    I had no idea there was so much to a piece of paper!!! I will definitely have to refer back to this blog as I find it hard to retain so much info these days, so thank you for this.

  • ANGELIQUE MCCULLERS-JUNE Mar 9, 2017 @ 20:20

    It’s amazing how I started buying Bristol Vellum a month ago and now I read that you like it too. I really like this paper and the fact I get a ream (250 sheets) for a great price is an added plus. Thanks again for the real informative breakdown.

  • Helen Mar 14, 2017 @ 5:10

    Good to know!

  • Gayla Mar 14, 2017 @ 8:16

    Thanks for explaining this. So much to learn.

  • Krisztina Kovacs Mar 15, 2017 @ 4:40

    Thank you! It was very helpful as I print/copy the colouring pages and I just didn’t know what paper I should use.

  • karen true Mar 20, 2017 @ 6:38

    I am looking forward to using different kinds of paper.

  • Qadirah Muhammad Oct 18, 2017 @ 15:14

    This is wonderful. I could have saved myself frustration. Fortunately I can use the paper anyway (for text). Thank you.

  • Denise Davis Jun 30, 2018 @ 8:42

    I watched your video and thought I heard you say to use the smooth side of this paper but I could not find that statement when I re-watched it. So, do you recommend using the smooth or rough side of the paper for printouts? Thank you so much!

  • Stephanie Bolden Jul 24, 2018 @ 5:20

    Hi Jennifer and Steve. I was wondering if you would reccomend a paper to print on that I could use for watercolors and gouache? Thank you in advance. I am so thankful for your channel!

    • Jennifer Stay Jul 24, 2018 @ 15:12

      Hi Stephanie. We have yet to find a watercolor paper to print on; however, our favorite mixed-media paper does okay. If your printer can handle it, we’d recommend this 100lb card stock from Amazon: http://amzn.to/2oQugR9

  • Jewelfire May 1, 2020 @ 7:06

    Loved this! Funny thing happened today while I was comparison shopping for a new printer. Thanks to this article, I know I need to check on max paper weight in the printer’s specs and on the very first one the specs said…”Paper size: up to A4 ; Weight: 8.7kg”…😲😤🤦‍♀️

  • Noah Enholm Aug 1, 2021 @ 6:54

    Thank you for taking the time to write this post. This is incredibly helpful in selecting on quality colored pencil paper.

  • Sherry Walker Dec 30, 2021 @ 16:58

    Hello sweet lady and gent… I was just watching the video on the paper.. I loved it when I seen the link to the $6.26 price . But when I hit that Lil linky it takes me to 80# cardstock, I thought I’d remember this stuff from when I was in the printing buiz.. well it twas quite a while ago. So I’m relearning and I thank you guys so much for that.. anyway.. if there is another link I need for the 67# lemme know.. and stay Blissfully u two… Sherry..

    • Jennifer Stay Dec 31, 2021 @ 14:13

      Hi Sherry, here is a link to the 67# version: http://amzn.to/2xaWwDP Thank you for being part of our community. 🙂

  • Janice Sterling Mar 13, 2022 @ 0:46

    just looking for paper for color pencils – think i found it

  • Sharon Croft May 13, 2023 @ 12:24

    Thanks so much for the video. I have been doing research, but since I am a newbie to this craft I was hoping I would see a workshop on paper for pencils. Thanks so much because you certainly answered most of my questions.

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