I am a paperholic! I love paper! Cold press, hot press, printing paper, coated paper -ooooooo – I love paper. There are a lot of choices of paper to draw on – way too many choices but heck, pick what works best for you! What you use can determine the overall look of your work and the outcome when it is scanned to the computer. I’m keeping it simple – here’s a quick run down from cheap to expensive and paper to boards.
• Computer / typing paper: standard is thin – 20 lbs but you can get it in heavier reams, coated, bright and really cheap stuff that has wood chunks in it. Inexpensive to the point where you don’t have to worry about throwing it away when you can’t erase your lines completely. It can hold some India ink markers, but test it out thoroughly to make sure it won’t bleed on you. Comes in 3 basic sizes.
• Bristol board: the standard for cartooning. Comes in several textures and weights, workable with erasers, workable with washes as long as they are not too wet, great for sticking on texture and gradient films, comes in so many sizes it’s ridiculous! Also comes pre-printed with non photographic blue lines for comic book pages, manga pages and comic strip panels. Can be costly over time but if stored right, will hold up over time.
• Tracing paper: not just for tracing! Can be used for preliminary drawings, tracing random drawings to put them into a big rendering – BUT – you can also do your finished work on it. What you do is sketch your idea on a piece of paper, then overlay it with tracing paper and go straight to inking on it. This preserves the sketch and allows you to embellish as you proceed with illustration. Scan it with a white sheet behind it if you need, be careful though, ink sometimes stands up on the tracing paper and does not dry immediately. Comes in several sized pads and rolls.
• Water color / pastel / textured papers: lots of textures, colors – if you are inclined – good for you! Sometimes it will not give you a sharp line, textures can warp your drawings – unless that’s the effect you are looking for. Comes in pads and individual sheets – almost any size.
• Illustration board: the Holy Grail. But extremely expensive for cartooning. If you are doing master works – use it. Comes in both cold and hot press, accepts gentle erasing, accepts pencil / pen and ink / washes / laying on of solid colors and texture / gradient films. Comes in sheets – usually 30 x 40 inches or smaller.
One last word – the real determination of which paper to use is to draw on it. Use your pen and ink, makers, brush and ink, watercolors and pencils – whatever you want to draw with on them and then decide. Ask others what they use, go to cons and see what they are working on – try everything you can get your hands!