CANSON VS STRATHMORE – Best Cheap Watercolor Paper?

CANSON VS STRATHMORE – Best Cheap Watercolor Paper?


For those of you stubborn butts like myself
who love using crappy cheap paper, this video is for you. Hey you guys, it’s Sam, and it’s FINALLY HERE! The year and over a half long project is finally
here, it’s finally finished, thank you all so much for sticking with me, and also a big
thank you to my patrons and other Twitch supporters, and especially JP in particular who helped
fun this project. We here going through seven different sketchbook
papers to find the BEST cheap paper that money can buy for us watercolor artists on a budget. This is Strathmore versus Canson, head to
head, let’s go. Quick disclaimer: I’m not a professional watercolor
artist. I started this project pretty ignorant and
just learned as I went. So I started off using cheaper tools like
Aquash and Ohuhu water brushes, as well as cheaper paints like Koi Watercolor. Later on I realized you’ll have better luck
with these papers if you use higher quality supplies, that’s both brushes and paint, so
depending on what you have, your results may vary. Also, all the papers listed will have Amazon
links in the description, if you’d like to check them out. First up is the Strathmore Mixed Media spiral. It has 40 sheets, it is 90lbs, or 190gsm,
it comes in three different sizes. This is the 5.5×8.5, and it goes up to 11×14,
that’s in inches. So for pros, because it’s a spiral, all the
papers are in one place. Nothing is loose, kind of makes it fun for
flipping through. Also allows you to work completely on one
page, you don’t have to hold down the book or the paper. The paper works well enough to go fairly dark
with multiple layers. For Neutrals, so it kind of depends on what
you’re into. The dry time is a little bit more iffy. It’s seems to be relatively faster than watercolor
paper, but it seems to kind of depend. Also keep in mind I’m in a dry climate, I
live in California right now. And there are also no perforated pages. So for the cons. Too much water and roughness can tear up the
paper a little bit. Not as much as some others on this list, but
still there. Paper weight is also very light for watercolors,
so tends to really buckle. Since it’s a spiral, colors and water tend
to leak through to next pages, can also cause them to stick together or possibly tear. So my final thoughts: Not bad for an on-the-go,
random studies/practice, or if you happen to already have it might as well use it, cases. I never found myself getting really angry
or frustrated when working with this paper. So, final rating: I’m gonna give it a 7/10. I also really like the spiral. Next up is the Canson Mixed Media spiral,
keep in mind this is not the XL series, this is a different one. This sketchbook has 30 sheets, it’s 138lbs,
224gsm. It comes in two sizes, 5.5×8.5, which is what
this one is, and it also comes in a 9×12, that’s in inches. Some pros, again, spiral, I really like me
some spiral. Weight of paper is heavier than Strathmore’s
spiral, so that’s nice. There’s a little bit, like a tiny minuscule
touch of texture, that the Strathmore Mixed Media spiral did not have, so the initial
painting grip is kind of nice. Neutrals, it stays wet for a quite while,
it can handle dry mediums fairly well, there are perforated pages, it has a slightly more
“cold press”ish feel to it, especially compared to the last sketchbook. But very very light, the tiniest amount of
texture. Some cons, MMMM [cringe], buckling???? The buckling is pretty bad, the paper really
melts, there’s a lot of inconsistencies, it tears very easily, it doesn’t take much of
any layers, you can’t really go dark. Since it’s a spiral, similar issues, colors
and water tend to leak through to the next pages, so it can cause them to stick together
or possibly tear. Final thoughts: I had a miserable time with
this paper. The methods and techniques I was accustomed
to from the Strathmore Mixed Media spiral did not transfer at all. Even after shaking things up, stream can attest
I really tried, it was not worth it. This is why I have a “canson is cancelled”
command on my streams now. This was where it started. So final rating: 1/10 just not enjoyable paper
to use. Next up is the Canson Mixed Media XL paper. This sketchbook comes with 60 sheets. It’s 98lbs or 160gsm. It comes in six different sizes, this is the
5.5×8.5, but it goes up to 18×24 inches. However the 18×24 only has 30 sheets. Some pros, spiral, again, I’m a huge fan of
spirals. When painting slow, taking lots of breaks,
few layers at a time, giving lots of dry time, it’s not bad. Neutral: hardcover, the others were soft cover. The paper melts a touch. It does have perforated pages, and it does
have a similar super super super slight cold press texture. It can handle dry mediums just fine, actually. The CONS…[laughs] Seems difficult to get
dark layers down, water and pigment seem to float on top temporarily, lots of lift even
after being completely dried. It does buckle but not as much as their other
mixed media pad, the previous one. It can get dotted texture, though that might
be related to the paints I use. Colors are less saturated than watercolor
paper. It has 60 pages which is 60 more than necessary. [laughs] Final thoughts: Coming into this one after
the last Canson sketchbook, I had a better handle on what to do with their absolute garbage
paper, but my patience was already worn thin, and this sketchbook was little better than
their other mixed media paper. Dry media, works great, wet media, don’t bother. Rating: 1.5/10 just more disappointment, especially
after that last sketchbook. Next up is the Strathmore Mixed Media pad. This pad has 15 sheets. It’s 140lbs or 300gsm. It comes in four different sizes. This is the 6×8, but it goes up to 18×24 inches. For pros, it’s fairly thick paper, much thicker
than the other papers so far. It holds the water decently for mixed media. It’s glued on one side, and the higher paper
weight helps with buckling. You can easily get hard edges when painting
if desired. Neutral: dries very quickly. I’m not exaggerating here, it’s hella fast. The lack of spiral means loose sheets/artworks
to keep track of. For cons: too much water and roughness can
tear up the paper a bit, not too much, but some, it kind of depends on how rough you
are with it. Water and paint can leak on to next pages
on the sides. It can also cause them to stick together or
possibly tear, like the other ones. Brush strokes show and are somewhat difficult
to hide/get rid of, mostly due to the extremely fast dry time. Again, no exaggeration, this paper dries very
very quickly. Paint pools where brush strokes stop, so when
you lift the brush off paper, this is again likely due to the extremely fast dry time. Final thoughts: If you’re into showing brush
strokes, getting hard edges, wanting faster dry time, this is likely the one you’ll wanna
try out and get used to. I’ve also used this paper as gifts in the
past, it’s a nice size and weight, and tearing it out makes the artworks easy to share. The rating: 7/10 The heavier paper is nice. Next up is the Strathmore Watercolor pad. This pad has 12 sheets. It’s 140lbs or 300gsm. It comes in nine different sizes. This is the 5.5×8.5, but it goes up to 18×24
inches. For pros: it’s thick paper, can hold a lot
of water. It’s easy to blend on in a ‘general’ sense. It did not pass galaxy test, I’ll get to that. For neutrals: it has a cold press texture,
and it does offer larger versions with spiral without the glue to tear pages. For cons, OH BOY. Texture gets melty with water, it causes some
spotty coloring later. It’s VERY very difficult to tear off pages. This is honestly a “break” in a make or break
situation right here. The glue is super gross, I don’t know if I
got a bad one or whatever, but it was just very difficult to tear the pages out. It also damaged slightly some of my artworks. There was some horizontal buckling due to
the glue. The paper can tear with too much water/layers,
similar to mixed media pad. And the galaxy test did not fair well with
this paper. [pained laugh] Final thoughts: Super disappointing, especially
since I’ve been a big fan of Strathmore’s paper since the early days of my drawing. It’s definitely workable if you have to use
it, but…oof, can it be real nasty. Rating is: 2/10??? I don’t know if my Strathmore gurl heart can
handle giving it a 1/10. Next up is the Canson Montvol Watercolor spiral. This sketchbook has 20 sheets. It’s 140lbs or 300gsm. It comes in two sizes, this is the 5.5×8.5
but it also comes in 9×12 inches. The pros: We back to spirals, YASS. Initial lay-down is nice, smooth, actually
felt like painting on watercolor paper. For some neutrals: Some cold press texture,
not everyone is into that. It doesn’t melt as much as other papers, but
it does take a long time to dry. For cons: dotting issue at times, again could
be paint related, but not sure. Buckling–it seems to flatten a bit later,
but with more layers it does buckle more. ((I do have a video on how to avoid buckling,
link in the description!)) There are some weird dry times. Sometimes it seems to immediately absorb at
times which leaves your initial brush marks, other times it just kind of sits on top for
a while. There is heavy lifting which made layering
more difficult. Final thoughts: The other Canson papers were
so crap that it was hard going in without negative expectations. There was still some struggles and it was
hard to figure out what it was that was wrong with the paper. I think the issue was that the Montval Watercolor
paper was so close but misses, which causes that same frustration I felt with the mixed
media pads. However for my rating, it was still decent
paper, so, due to its thickness, due to its watercolor texture, and watercolorness, I’m
gonna go ahead and give it a higher rating than the other ones, so an 8/10. And finally, Canson XL Watercolor paper…spiral. [laughs] This sketchbook has 30 sheets. It’s 140lbs or 300gsm. There are six different sizes, ranging from
landscape to portrait. This particular one I have is portrait, it’s
7×10 inches, but goes up to 18×24. For pros: It’s actually very similar to the
previous Montvol sketchbook paper. As far as neutrals go, the smallest size is
this 7×10 inches, so for those of us, like myself, who like painting smaller, this might
be a little bit of an issue. For cons: Ya’ almost take the same issues
with the Montvol paper and add like, 5-ish%. They’re quite close in terms of everything. Final rating: 7.9/10?? xD So I guess my final final thoughts: When it
comes to these cheap sketchbooks, you can’t expect too much. You’re obviously gonna have a better time
with 100% cotton brands like Arches and Bee. But for plein air, a budget, practicing, doing
studies, or if you’re not sure if you wanna spend the crazy amount of money for something
that’s currently just an interest or hobby? I think the Canson Montvol [Watercolor] is
the winner for me, with the XL [Watercolor] being your next best bet if you can’t find
the Montvol. I’ve heard that if you wanna invest in anything
when it comes to watercolor, it should be the paper for watercolor, so if you do wanna
explore more with the medium, maybe get a little more serious, I would consider investing
in higher quality papers later down the road, if you can. But like I said in the disclaimer at the beginning,
better brushes, better paints do make a difference with these papers. They do help make using these papers less
of a struggle. In any case, if you wanna catch more of my
watercolor journey, and my art journey in general, since I do more than just watercolor,
definitely check out my Twitch livestreams. And if you wanna help support me in doing
more massive projects like this, consider supporting me on Patreon, the link will be
in the description. Links to everything, as always, in all of
my videos, are in the description. But HUGE thank you again for everyone who
followed me throughout this journey. This over a year and a half long project. I really appreciate all the love, the support,
all the laughs and good times we’ve had together. Have you used any of these papers? Let me know how your adventure went with them,
let me know in the comments down below. And do you have a favorite cheap watercolor
usable paper? Also let us know in the comments down below. But I hope you enjoyed this video! Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next
time, biiiiiiiiii!

10 Comments

  • sambeawesome says:

    Thank you all SO MUCH once again! This was probably the biggest project (minus my novel/books) that I've ever undertaken, and your support really helped pull me through! I hope y'all had fun and continue to enjoy your art journeys! <3 Time codes:

    StrathmoreMixed Media Spiral @ 1:09

    Canson Mixed Media Spiral @ 2:29

    Canson Mixed Media XL Spiral @ 4:09

    Strathmore Mixed Media Pad @ 5:41

    Strathmore Watercolor Pad @ 7:09

    Canson Montvol Watercolor @ 8:38

    Canson XL Watercolor @ 10:09

    PS, I'm working to fund my second watercolor art book, details: https://www.patreon.com/posts/new-patreon-goal-29619450 Thanks for watching x3

  • SpoTulip says:

    What a great video! Me being a sketchbook hoarding fiend and also (slowly) learning watercolor, I already have a lot of these sketchbooks and it helps me on which ones to keep for actual artwork and which one to keep as practice.
    Thanks for making this, your hard work won't go unnoticed 😁

  • WCLeeArt says:

    ooh you streaming on twitch ? gots to look for u

  • Cortnie Rae says:

    The strathmore 400 series watercolor pad disappointed me too! The glue is gross, most sheets rip when you try to take them out, and the paper tears way too easily in my experiences ;n; Being poor, it was my "upgrade" from canson's watercolor paper and omg. Mega disappointing and totally not worth the higher price tag. Thank you for making this video~

  • Nina the Trashy Artist says:

    I missed the premiere ;-; nuuuuu

    Thank you, Sam for doing this for us ^-^ I shall now look out for Canson (and die a bit inside cause Imagine 250 gsm pad was so disappointing and buckling) if Winsor&Newton I bought recently will turn out to be crap XD We all shall continue this journey. Who knows, maybe there will be a company that makes good cheap mixed media/watercolour paper?

  • Aeladya says:

    I bought some Bee 100% watercolor paper, comes with 50 sheets and I think it was about $15 on Amazon.

  • H. Wingfield says:

    DickBlick brand 100% cotton watercolor paper. Cheap and awesome.

  • Haruka Tavares says:

    Good comparison video! I'm glad we agreed on what's the best paper of that list, from the brands and models I've tried the Canson Montval was the best one. I'm so glad you did not try Strathmore Vision Watercolour: worst watercolour paper I've ever tried.

  • Debi Taylor says:

    Thank you for taking the time to do this thorough assessment. I was really hoping you might have included;

    Strathmore 500 Series Heavyweight Mixed Media Pads or Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut Watercolor Paper, but I guess at around 40c per sheet, it's no longer considered "super cheap", but for a a beginner, it's that next step up and so much more enjoyable and less frustrating.

  • Nephtalie Albert says:

    I have both Canson xl and Montval because I want to get into some mixed media and cut paper art too. Also making my own pattern paper as well.

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