I’ve made a video highlighting three different types of paper you can use for creating your lettering on. The video explores a few things, how transparent the types of paper are, this is useful for light boxing and tracing. Whether the types of paper allow much bleed when inking outlines, and also I consider affordability too.
You can watch the video for all of the info, read below for a summary of the video content, or checkout both if you have the time to spare!
Good Old Printer Paper
The first paper I look at in the video is what a lot of hand letterers use for their lettering practice. It’s the good old printer paper, that you can buy from most office supply stores. If you have a printer at home you probably already have this paper lying around. It’s not the glossy photo paper you can get, just the thin matt paper we’ve come to rely on so much in this modern digital age.
Printer paper is good to use for lettering because it is relatively inexpensive to buy, and as already mentioned easily accessible! Drawing on printer paper is pretty straight forward. As it’s surface is quite smooth it’s not too difficult to achieve accurate outlines and curves. As it is quite thin it makes a good candidate for using on light boxes or windows when tracing, and refining your lettering too.
Printer paper bleeds a little but considering the quality of the paper it doesn’t bleed terribly. Incase you’re not sure what bleeding means it’s where ink spreads a little from where placed, as the ink soaks further and further into the paper.
Paper With Teeth!
Toothy paper with large teeth is used for a number of things, water colour art, brush lettering, charcoal drawings, anything really where you want a bit of texture. When I say toothy, I’m referring to paper with bumpy ridges and dips. This is what makes up the tooth of paper, the more prominent the bumps and dips the higher the tooth. It is possible to smooth the teeth of paper down using different artistic tools such as a tortillion. This can give different textural effects within one piece of paper. Technically all types of paper have teeth, even printer paper, the teeth are just very smooth and harder to detect.
When drawing on large toothed paper it can be hard to get a nice smooth line or curve. This is because of the dips and bumps in the paper, they cause a bit of surface resistance. The result of this can be some pretty wobbly lines, and mean numerous re-tries at getting a letter right! Most large toothed paper comes in a variety of thicknesses. More often than not though, at its very thinnest it will be thicker than printer paper because of the way it’s made up. It is still possible to see through it okay when using a light box or window, provided you haven’t chosen a very high thickness.
The large toothed paper has a very similar bleed to printer paper, a little but not loads. I am sure this would vary though from paper to paper. It is also pretty straightforward to get hold of from most art supply stores, but not quite as common and easy to find as normal printer paper.
The final type of paper I look at in the video is called Bristol Smooth by Strathmore. This kind of paper is of quite a high quality, and you may find not all art supply shops stock it, but some definitely will. The Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper isn’t the cheapest in the world but it is certainly worth the money for the quality. The texture is similar to that of a magazine or catalog, but it is in no way glossy.
Where the surface on it is so smooth it makes drawing lines and curves an ease without any bumps or resistance from the paper at all. Providing you’re relatively accurate with drawing your letters you won’t find yourself having to redraw letters as often as you would with some large toothed paper. The Bristol Smooth paper is a lot thicker than the basic printer paper, so I wouldn’t recommend trying to use more than two sheets on top of each other on a light box. You’d probably be better off using just one sheet of Bristol Smooth with a different type of paper on top or below. That is really the only fault I can find with this type of paper.
There is a noticeable difference in the bleed on the Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper, it hardly bleeds at all! So not only can you achieve smooth fluid lines and curves with it, but neat inked edges too.
There is quite a lot to take in here on all of these papers. One of the best things you can do is try some different types of papers out for yourself. You might be using different tools to me and therefore see different results. Hopefully however, the above video and summary will give you a bit more confidence to try out some papers!
If you’d like to purchase the types of papers highlighted in this article, you can find links either on the ‘Tools’ page under the ‘Paper’ section. Otherwise I will put a couple of links just below. The links are affiliate links so if you do purchase anything, at no additional cost to you I may earn a little.