Who doesn’t love acrylic paint? Both the novice and the artiste professionnel can get something out of using this versatile, bright, fun medium. The cool thing is, you don’t always have to use a canvas to use the acrylic either!
Acrylic paper pads are a great alternative to using canvas with acrylic paint. A quality pad of acrylic paper is good for practicing techniques, learning how to properly use acrylic paint, creating color swatches for future reference, or just using something new that offers a different texture than canvas.
I’ve discovered that picking up a good pad of paper specifically for acrylic painting can be a little difficult. Using paper and acrylic paint together isn’t the most conventional (or popular) idea ever, apparently.
Luckily, after some serious investigating, I’ve found four of the best paper pads out there for trying out the acrylic-and-paper technique. Read on to see the good!
What to Look for in Your Acrylic Paint Paper
- Weight/Thickness. The higher the “weight” of your paper, the thicker it will be. A 210 lb weight will offer a thicker paper than a 80 lb weight. When it comes to using acrylic, which is a water-soluble paint, you’re going to want to shoot for a thick paper that will not buckle, warp, or wrinkle when wet. You have the option of learning how to treat and stretch paper to reduce unsavory effects of using wet media but it is much easier to just buy the appropriate paper.
- Finish. Think of how your average canvas is used– you usually prime it with gesso so your paint can be applied smoothly. The same goes for your paper. Paper may be naturally smoother than a canvas, but paper with a thin coat of primer helps with our warping problem and also reduces what little grit may be in the paper material. If you like some added texture to the surface you paint on, feel free to disregard this and get whatever gritty, bumpy, wild paper you’d like.
- Sheet size. You can use acrylic painting paper just as you use canvas– in any size you want. Acrylic paint is easily thinned, so you can create ultra tiny artist cards or huge pieces with this medium. Most of the products I’ll be talking about come in several sizes other than the size provided in the link, so try to look around for your ideal paper pad size!
- Primer. Primer is important for the canvas, why would it be different for the paper pad? Primer allows for extra smooth application of acrylic paint. It would be wise to look for paper pads that have a very small amount of acrylic gesso primer coating each page.
Best Overall Paper Pad for Acrylic Painting
U.S. Art Supply impresses us once again and lands one of its products at the top of this list as the #1 paper pad to use for acrylic painting. The 246-Pound 12-Sheet Acrylic Painting Spiral Bound Paper Pad from U.S. Art Supply is inexpensive, extra thick, and offers a perfect combination of smoothness with enough grit to keep paint in place.
This pad features 12 ultra-thick, acid-free, neutral pH, spiral-bound sheets of fine paper for acrylic painting.
With a super high weight and thickness, this pad’s acrylic paper sheets are not only perfect for acrylic painting, but for any wet media that you’d like to combine for an interesting mixed media piece. You don’t have to worry about buckling or bleeding with this paper.
It is also thick and primed enough that no additional prep is required before painting– flip to a fresh page and dive right in!
I personally really love spiral-bound sketchbooks like this one. Removal of pages is easy and the pad lies flat on your lap for casual, comfortable painting.
“This is wonderful thick paper feels like it’ll hold up really well when applying acrylic paint.”
“At first, I was a little miffed at the fact that there are only twelve pages in this pad. Once I opened the package, though, I realized it was because this wasn’t normal paper, but rather thick paper that could likely be used for a picture you want to have framed. It has an almost canvass type feel, which means to me that it’s pretty heavy duty paper, as well as being high quality to handle the paint.”
“In general, I really enjoyed using these sheets with my acrylic paints and I do not have any complaints at all. If you want high quality material and don’t want to spend an extreme amount of money. This is your opportunity.”
“I like to be able to transport my painting pads with me and the spiral binding allows me to paint several pictures in one day and then, when dry transport them home safely, protected by the cover. Overall I really like this paper.”
Best Budget Paper Pad for Acrylic Painting
Are you an art teacher or a parent that wants to introduce their little one to acrylic painting without spending a ton on super fancy supplies, but doesn’t want to buy paper that ends up being literal garbage?
This 17-Sheet Acrylic Paint Artist Paper Pad from Royal Langnickel Essentials would be the smart choice.
This particular pad is only 5 inches by 7 inches, but Royal Langnickel’s Essentials line carries several sizes for this acrylic painting paper pad.
This featured size, however, is travel-friendly and fits easily in your bag or purse.
The 96-pound weight/thickness of this paper is good for acrylic painting, but not so ideal for extra watery media.
This little pad would a fun choice to practice acrylic paint texture with, or to keep swatches of the acrylic paints you have in your collection.
“I am a beginning artist, but I found these to hold acrylic paint wonderfully with no warping. I wouldn’t suggest using a ton of paint on them, but for general painting they’re perfect. The texture is that of canvas. I will buy again!”
“Very nice, 15 sheet acrylic pad! I really didn’t expect the pad to be of such high quality. The pages are nice and thick with some tooth, like watercolor paper.”
“These are small so you can do little paintings to display in small areas or a wall that needs just a touch of something.”
Best Paper Pad for Acrylics and Mixed Media
This quality 22-Sheet Oil and Acrylic Essentials Artist Paper Pad from Royal Langnickel can handle almost any medium. Acrylic paint, oil paint, crayons, pencils, charcoal, markers, ink, pens, decoupage, gouache, and watercolors can all be incorporated together using this powerhouse mixed media paper pad.
The thickness of these sheets stand at a very nice 125 lb weight, so you’ve got a lot of leeway in what you can use with this paper.
If you wish to use watercolor paint or gouache with this pad, it would be wise to treat it first to ensure no buckling or warping will occur.
The only downside to this particular pad of paper is that the sheets are not acid-free. The longevity of the work you create using this paper can be affected by this.
As always, sealing your work with spray or special mediums after completing a piece would be a wise decision.
“These are the only pads we’ve been able to find for oil paints. My daughter got a really nice set of oil paints for Christmas and it’s just too expensive to buy canvases all the time. She’s really enjoyed this paper pad and the ability to paint without using a canvas every time. She also said it is very easy to sketch out her drawing on these sheets. I’m so glad to have finally found a paper that works with oil paints.”
“…for the price I haven’t found anything that beats this paper. heavy enough to stand up to layer after layer of paint and writing and distressing and decoupaging and more painting and distressing… and still light enough to be used as book covers and to cover and line boxes and books.”
“Twice the paper for half the money! This is why I shop online! Great deal! I’m in a practicing mode in my acrylic painting. Supplies get expensive , but every once in a while u paint something worth keeping, sooo I like to paint on something of quality even when practicing. This is a fab bargain.”
Best Canvas Paper Pad for Acrylic Painting
It’s like using canvas without the canvas! Sort of. The 115-Pound Canvas Paper Pad from Strathmore offers 10 sheets of quality thin cotton canvas that is great for experimenting with acrylic paint and oil paint as well as sketching and drawing.
The color of this pad is an off, almost eggshell white that mimics the look of untreated canvas.
This pad is ideal for the artist that wants to try out and test techniques to be eventually used on a fancy canvas, without spending the big bucks on a bunch of stretched canvases.
It is important to note that this paper pad is not the same as stretched canvas– in fact, treating the paper before using watery mediums or very thinned acrylic paint on it would be wise.
It’s very thin compared to actual stretched canvas.
Regardless, the 115 lb weight that this canvas paper pad offers is a perfectly good thickness for painting with acrylics and has an added grit and texture to it that can add some interesting personality to your paintings.
“These are better and cheaper than canvas on wood. I love it! Great texture and strength.”
“I’ve started painting only recently, and was told by my instructor to practice on this before moving on to cotton canvas or other material. These days I’m painting with gouache and It works well for me. I’m quite happy with the results.”
“Not much else can be said, but this is a quality cotton medium to paint on.”
Do you use paper for acrylic painting that we missed?
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