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The Best Watercolor Pad

Last updated on November 5, 2019

We looked at the top 11 Watercolor Pads and dug through the reviews from 32 of the most popular review sites including Gist Gear, Mom Dot, Top Best Review, Wow Pencils, Review Meta, Infestis and more. The result is a ranking of the best Watercolor Pads.

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Our Picks For The Top Watercolor Pads

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall
10.0

Arches

140 lb. Watercolor Paper Pad

Overall Take

Sturdy DesignThe pages of this Arches 140 lb. Watercolor Paper Pad are top-quality, giving your paints an extra luster.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus Spy, Natto Soup, Sea Salt and Pepper. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff and Blick.
Pros
" Ideal for experienced watercolor painters or novices who want a professional quality pad, Arches uses long fibers in their pages to create a durable and resilient piece of paper. Arches are the only company in the world to soak their..."
Cons
"Paper is a bit soft, and details may get fuzzy- not suitable for comics work in my experience."
  The Best Value

Canson

XL Series 140 lb. Watercolor Pad

Overall Take

Sustainable ProcessesIf you're concerned about your environmental impact, this Canson XL Series 140 lb. Watercolor Pad is made using sustainable processes.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus Gist Gear, Goriosi, Little Coffee Fox, Architect’s Resources, Sea Salt and Pepper, ProCartoon and 1 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff and Blick.
Pros
" Durable surface withstands repeated washes."
Cons
"This book only comes with 30 sheets of paper to use."

Strathmore

400 Series Watercolor Pad, 130 lb.

Overall Take

Absorbent PadThe felt finish on the pages of this Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor Pad, 130 lb. mean they soak up watercolors better than competitors.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus Goriosi. Along with user reviews from Michael’s.
Pros
" STRATHMORE 400 SERIES WATERCOLOR - 140 lb. intermediate grade watercolor paper is popular with watercolorists of all levels. This versatile, felt finished paper is ideal for mastering watercolor techniques or finished pieces. This item is manufactured in United States."

Canson

XL Series 98 lb. Mix Media Paper Pad

Overall Take

Versatile PadThis Canson XL Series 98 lb. Mix Media was designed with the help of art professors, meaning they are ideal for students playing with multiple media.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus Gist Gear, Infestis, Wiki EZ Vid, Architect’s Resources, Anna Mason, Art Journalist and 1 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Blick and Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff.
Pros
" Mix Media paper erases well and blends easily. The wire bound pads have micro perforated, true size sheets. These pads were developed in consultation with art professors and combine performance with value for the art student. These pads contain 60..."
Cons
"60 pages in total may not last that long for an architect who sketches a lot and goes through a lot of paper."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
18

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the watercolor pads available to purchase.
11

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

32

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Gist Gear, Mom Dot, Top Best Review, Wow Pencils, Review Meta.

14,436

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Michael’s, Blick, Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff and 3 others.

Our experts reviewed the top 11 Watercolor Pads and also dug through the reviews from 32 of the most popular review sites including Gist Gear, Mom Dot, Top Best Review, Wow Pencils, Review Meta, Infestis and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Watercolor Pads.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Arches 140 lb. Watercolor Paper Pad

Our Expert Score
10.0
3 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.9
1,376 user reviews
Our Take

Each page of the Arches 140 lb. Watercolor Paper Pad is soaked in natural gelatin and air-dried. This process means your paint will have a luster, taking your creations to the next level. The page is made with long fibers, which gives it extra durability if you have to erase your pencil drawings.

What other experts liked
Ideal for experienced watercolor painters or novices who want a professional quality pad, Arches uses long fibers in their pages to create a durable and resilient piece of paper. Arches are the only company in the world to soak their...
- Spy
August 7, 2019 | Full review
Paper accepts color well, allows for gentle subtle blending, and can handle multiple layers of water. Overall, a pleasant experience, and an easy paper to work with.
- Natto Soup
The texture of the surface is flawless, as you would expect from cold press paper. Each pad carries twelve 9″ by 12″ paper sheets which are suitable for your wet techniques and blending of watercolors.
- Sea Salt and Pepper
What other experts didn't like
With 12 sheets, the Arches is the smallest pad on our list.
- Spy
August 7, 2019 | Full review
Paper is a bit soft, and details may get fuzzy- not suitable for comics work in my experience.
- Natto Soup
Although the paper is quite absorbent, ensure that you have a sponge and blow dryer within reach.
- Sea Salt and Pepper

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Canson XL Series 140 lb. Watercolor Pad

Expert Summarized Score
10.0
7 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.3
1,109 user reviews
Our Take

Sustainability sets the Canson XL Series 140 lb. Watercolor Pad from others in its market. Made using sustainable processes, this option helps those trying to reduce their carbon footprint. The pages are both acid-free and cold press, which also provides an extra level of durability.

What other experts liked
Durable surface withstands repeated washes.
- Gist Gear
August 24, 2019 | Full review
Manufactured using sustainable processes.
- Goriosi
December 22, 2018 | Full review
This is a fantastic option that you can find at most major stores, and their paper pads come in several sizes.
- Little Coffee Fox
May 31, 2019 | Full review
Made from acid-free paper through a cold press process. This book is durable and can withstand a lot of drawing
- Architect's Resources
These XL Watercolor Pads are also fold over and so convenient to use. As a cold press paper that features a light and easy texture, you are sure to get a load of fun using this even if you are an absolute beginner. It is also durable enough to withstand...
- Sea Salt and Pepper
Beginner artists may find this pad to be akin to their liking since they’re just starting out. It’s cold press paper so the surface is rough with texture. Little grooves, nooks, and crannies abound in this type of paper. That’s important when using watercolors because it soaks up the wetness...
- ProCartoon
October 19, 2017 | Full review
Heavyweight paper means no pilling. Acid-free sheets. Can draw over watercolor painting
- Doodlums
What other experts didn't like
This book only comes with 30 sheets of paper to use.
- Architect's Resources
May need slight stretching to remove wrinkles.
- ProCartoon
October 19, 2017 | Full review
Pigment colors may be slightly duller than hot press paper.
- Doodlums

Overall Product Rankings

1. Arches 140 lb. Watercolor Paper Pad

Overall Score: 10.0
Reviews Included: 7

2. Canson XL Series 140 lb. Watercolor Pad

Overall Score: 9.8
Reviews Included: 10

3. Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor Pad, 130 lb.

Overall Score: 9.6
Reviews Included: 3

4. Canson XL Series 98 lb. Mix Media Paper Pad

Overall Score: 9.5
Reviews Included: 10

5. Chromatek Pens And Watercolor Pad

Overall Score: 9.2
Reviews Included: 1

6. Bellofy 98 lb. Sketchpad Artist Pro

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 12

7. Pentalic 140 lb. Watercolor Field Book

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 1

8. Strathmore 100 Series Youth Paint Pad

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 8

9. Strathmore 440-1 400 Series Watercolor Pad

Overall Score: 8.6
Reviews Included: 1

10. ARTEZA 140 lb. Watercolor Pad, 14 Sheets

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 3

11. Genuine Crafts 140 lb. Watercolor Paper Pad, 2 Pack

Overall Score: 8.2
Reviews Included: 1

Our Findings

Arches 140 lb. Watercolor Paper Pad

Best Construction

Arches 140 Lb CP Watercolor Pad 12 Sheet (Kitchen)


List Price: $22.90 USD
New From: $11.21 USD In Stock
Used from: $11.21 USD In Stock

What We Liked: Each page of the Arches 140 lb. Watercolor Paper Pad is soaked in natural gelatin and air-dried. This process means your paint will have a luster, taking your creations to the next level. The page is made with long fibers, which gives it extra durability if you have to erase your pencil drawings.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Canson XL Series 140 lb. Watercolor Pad

Best Eco-Friendly

Canson XL Series Watercolor Pad, 9" x 12", Fold-over cover, 30 Sheets (100510941) (Kitchen)


List Price: $11.70 USD
New From: $5.97 USD In Stock
Used from: $5.77 USD In Stock

What We Liked: Sustainability sets the Canson XL Series 140 lb. Watercolor Pad from others in its market. Made using sustainable processes, this option helps those trying to reduce their carbon footprint. The pages are both acid-free and cold press, which also provides an extra level of durability.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Canson XL Series 98 lb. Mix Media Paper Pad

What We Liked: For mixed-media artists, the Canson XL Series 98 lb. Mix Media Paper Pad is the most versatile choice. You’ll get 60 pages in each pad to ensure you get the most out of each purchase. This pad was also designed with the help of art professors to ensure they meet the needs of art students.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor Pad, 130 lb.

Honorable Mention

Strathmore 440-1 Strath W.Color 400 9X1212SHT 130 lbspirl, Multicolor (Office Product)


List Price: $16.99 USD
New From: $9.99 USD In Stock
Used from: $4.28 USD In Stock

What We Liked: The felt finish of the Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor Pad, 130 lb., along with its page thickness, means it soaks up your watercolors better than competitors. This pad contains 12 sheets, but you can buy them in packs to save money. The pad is made in the U.S. for those who prefer to buy domestically.

Our Watercolor Pad Buying Guide

If you’re an artist, you know the importance of the materials you use. High-quality paints are essential for creations that jump right off the page. But the surface you’re painting on comes into play, too. For artists using watercolor pads, the paper inside those pads can either help or hinder your journey toward creating your next masterpiece.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Unfortunately, higher-quality paper can be on the pricey side. That can make it tempting to save a few bucks by buying one watercolor pad over another. But it’s important to make sure the paper will properly absorb your colors. Otherwise, you’ll be disappointed in your results.

If you use pencils, you’ll also want to make sure you choose a paper that can stand up to your eraser. Look for papers made from long fibers that will erase cleanly. Acid-free, cold-press paper can handle multiple washings. Thicker, high-quality paper will also better soak up the pigments in your paint.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

As you’re pricing around, keep in mind not only quality but quantity. It can be easy to be drawn in by a lower-priced pad, only to realize later that it only comes with a small number of sheets. A much thicker pad will last longer, saving you the inconvenience of having to go back to the art store.

Perforated pages can also come in handy when you’ve finished your piece of art. If you want to extract it from the notebook to display or give away, pages that rip out won’t have that smooth edge. A perforation will give you a handy page that you can show off as the piece of art it is.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

For some artists, sustainability is also an important factor. Some watercolor pads are built with the environment in mind, so you can definitely narrow your list by looking for that feature. You can also find watercolor pads that are made in the U.S., if that’s a priority for you.

DWYM Fun Fact

Watercolor paintings have been found that date all the way back to cave paintings drawn between 10,000 and 15,000 BC. Artists during that time tended to depict the world around them, and those paintings serve as historical documents today. Pigments were combined with either animal fat or spit to create paint, but over time, artists learned to combine water with the pigments. Ancient Egyptians painted on tomb walls, but they also used scrolls as a canvas. The first manmade pigment is attributed to Egypt, where a pigment called Egyptian Blue was invented around 4,500 BC. In the 1800s, scientists found a way to recreate this especially bright color of blue using chemistry, as Egyptians did.

The Watercolor Pad Tips and Advice

  • When it comes to paper, it’s the little things that make a difference. The Arches 140 lb. Watercolor Paper Pad uses long fibers in its page construction, which means it holds up well while working. If you’re also using your pad for pencil drawings, you won’t have to worry about wearing down the paper fibers when you erase.
  • The paper of the Canson XL Series 140 lb. Watercolor Pad is acid-free and cold press, which ensures it will last through even repeated washings. It’s also heavyweight, 140-pound paper with plenty of texture to help it soak up the pigments in your paint.
  • The paper in the Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor Pad is also a 140-pound weight, with a felt finish to help soak up watercolors.
  • Art professors helped develop the Canson XL Series 98 lb. Mix Media Paper Pad, designing it specifically for the needs of art students. The perforated, true-size sheets are perfect for neatly removing the pad to display. It holds up well whether you’re using pencil, charcoal or watercolor. It isn’t quite as absorbent as competitors, though, which means you’ll have to allow your drawings a little more time to dry.
  • The pages of the Arches 140 lb. Watercolor Paper Pad are soaked in pure natural gelatin, then air-dried. That process enhances your paint, giving it a luster. It also helps keep tearing and lint to a minimum.
  • When you’re comparing prices, keep in mind the number of pages you get for that cost. The Canson XL Series 98 lb. Mix Media Paper Pad gives you the most, with 60 sheets of 7 X 10-inch paper. The Canson XL Series 140 lb. Watercolor Pad comes with 30 sheets, while both the Arches 140 lb. Watercolor Paper Pad and Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor Pad provide only 12 sheets each.
  • If the environment is important to you, it may help to know the Canson XL Series 140 lb. Watercolor Pad is made using sustainable processes.

About The Author

Avatar
Stephanie Faris 

Stephanie Faris is a novelist and business writer whose work has appeared on numerous blogs. She worked for the State of Tennessee for 19 years, the latter six of which were spent as a supervisor. She has written content for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2011. In addition to her online content, she is also the author of eight novels for Simon & Schuster, including the Piper Morgan chapter book series.