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which type of paper

Which type of paper or surface is best to use with
Coloured Pencils and Zest-it® Pencil Blend?





Ink drawing on the back and
front of Draughting Film.
Copyright Jacqui Blackman

There are many Coloured Pencil Artists and there are many papers or surfaces, there are also many different opinions of which paper or surface is the best!
We have not tested them all by any means, the ones we have tested are listed below.

When testing the different papers it is so necessary to stay unbiased, that can be difficult because there needs to be a 'control' surface otherwise there is no comparison!

A paper I personally like for watercolour, oils and pencils is Saunders Waterford and I've used it for many years, so that is what I used as a 'control'.


Most watercolour paper is excellent for Coloured Pencils, Pastels, Oil pastels, Wax pencils and more. As is the Somerset range of Printmakers papers.

Suggestion would be over 140 lb for robustness and wet strength.

Hard sized papers can work for you or against you depending on the way you work, as with all papers testing with your methods is important.

watercolour paper
Watercolour papers and tinted pastel paper.

mount board


Mount Board, Bristol  Board, Line and Wash Board, G4 Board and Foam Board are all good surfaces although most have a smooth surface being more for line work often of an ink nature.

Depends on the style of work and how the pencil is applied.

Zest-it Pencil Blend works well but does soak into the surface very fast as it is usually untreated. If too much is used it will take time to dry.

Test the surface first.


Pastel Board, PastelMat, Linen Boards, Clay Boards, Sanded Boards these usually have surfaces with tooth or texture which allows many layers of pencil to be laid down.

PastelMat, Linen and Clay Boards we have used with Zest-it Pencil Blend and they work fine, the Pencil Blend does not affect the surface and the tooth/texture stays in place.

Some surfaces that have the sand, marble dust, grit, glued to the surface can become un-glued with Pencil Blend as it will remove 'stick stuff' and other adhesives.

Test a small area of the chosen board before commencing a large work.


 birch ply panel
Back view of Birch Ply Panels.

Birch ply panels and boards;  Wooden panels and boards, these come with different surfaces they feel smooth to the touch but do have some tooth.

They are easy to work on and take little preparation, some people give a coat of gesso, it is not necessary if you prefer the wood surface.

We found a good surface is to thin a small amount of Cold Wax Painting Medium or similar to a 'spread-able' solution and use to 'polish' the wood. Leave to dry, then buff the surface, for wax and oil pencils it can be a surface with a difference!

Pencil Blend and Pencils work well together on this surface, the surface will accept more fluid, for dribble effects and the like.

Mylar, Vellum, Drafting Film, Acetate, Parchment, Cells, are surfaces used in hand draughting (drafting USA) and come from a time when Drawing Office materials were plentiful. (I have personally worked with all of them as a Draughtswoman using ink, not so much with coloured pencil). There are some professional CP artists using these surfaces for most of their work.

These 'films' are dimensionally stable, none yellowing, have a smooth or matt surface, have wet strength and are archival. They are easy to roll-up but are best stored flat, lightweight and can be worked both the back and the front.

Mistakes are not easy to remove from these surfaces, however, Zest-it Pencil Blend is very good for erasing mistakes on this type of surface!
Used to blend the CP takes very little, an almost dry brush is ideal.


colour pencil laid on draughting film
Initial Coloured Pencil laid on Draughting Film.
Copyright Tracey Blackman.


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