The drawing artist has a world of things to draw upon. But as an artist gets more skilled, it is important to give some thought to where the masterpieces will live for all eternity.
Paper can be something that is taken for granted. An inexpensive sketchbook or copier paper can be a great starting point for drills and rough sketches to test out subjects, composition or techniques. But with practice, quite quickly this thin 50 lb., non-acid free, sometimes see through support will not be adequate.
Archival papers are acid-free and are made to stand the test of time. And heavier weights of paper will ensure your masterpiece doesn’t crumple from being pulled in and out of one’s backpack or get wavy from exposure to moisture in the air. An acid-free paper will not discolor or disintegrate (as much) over time or develop spotting from age.
Pastel papers and watercolor papers can have weight and are acid-free, but they also may have texture or tooth, great for pastel and watercolor, but may interfere with the detail of a pencil drawing.
For student grade work, we recommend using at minimum an 80 lb. smooth, acid-free drawing or mixed media paper surface. For final projects, upgrade to a 100 lb. or better, acid-free bristol board in either a vellum (cold press) or smooth plate (hot press) surface.
You can get creative over time by using wood supports primed with special gesso, or using hand-made paper or even cloth for your artistic muse. But for best results drawing and illustrating for the sake of drawing, a good paper support is a great way to start.
Another thing to consider, which is almost as important as the proper paper, is what is under that paper. Anyone who ever poked through a sheet of paper while drawing over a crack their table will agree. For best results, use a drawing board or a thin sheet of 1/8 inch or better smooth hardboard from the hardware store. You can the use painters tape to secure a sheet of paper to the board for drawing.
Take down the tack of the tape by pressing it it against a towel or pant leg several times before putting on your paper. This will ensure you won’t rip your paper when you go to remove the tape.
As they say “back to the drawing board!”