The Best Paper for Brush Lettering

Often when beginners in brush lettering start to practice, they will turn to ordinary printer paper. First tip, you should not do that! Brush pens usually have very fragile tips, and the paper needs to be very smooth. In this post, I’ll talk about some of the best paper for brush pens. So, let’s get started!

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Why is Smooth Paper so Important for Brush Pens?

As I mentioned above, brush pens can be prone to fraying easily, especially when the wrong types of paper are used. Most quality brush pens aren’t cheap, so we want to keep the tips sharp and clean, so that our lettering looks crisp and we get the most use from each pen.

Some brush pens fray a bit more easily (like the felt tip on the Tombow Dual Brush Pens.) Those Tombows are amazing pens, come in many colors, and are a favorite for large brush lettering. They do, though, require gentle care, and that means smooth paper. This is true for most brush pens.

The Rhodia Dot Pad has smooth paper and is gentle on brush pens.

So, What is the Best Paper for Brush Lettering?

There are several kinds of paper that work well for brush lettering, depending on your specific purpose. Some are great for practice, some work well for finished pieces, some work well for blending, etc.

  • HP Premium 32

Once I discovered that practicing with regular copy paper frayed my brush pens, I found HP Premium 32 paper. What a difference! This paper is very smooth and is less expensive than some of the other papers below. I buy mine on Amazon, in the 500 sheet package, and for me that is less expensive than buying it in a local office supply store.

It’s perfect for practice, especially when using a lightbox, so that you can see your guidelines through the paper. (That is, if you’re using guidelines. For loose, bouncy lettering, you don’t always need those at all.) It’s a nice, thick paper, so it’s not as transparent as tracing paper or marker paper. So, if you want to use guidesheets with guidelines beneath your paper, or if you want to trace a design you’ve created, you won’t be able to with this paper, without a lightbox. (But, later in this post, I have some options for some thinner practice papers.) Of course, you can always pencil in your own guidelines directly on the paper, if you want them!

I also love this paper for printing printables like quotes and other home decor pieces, calendars, etc. because it is such a nice bright, thick paper.

If you want dot grid or graph lines on your paper to keep your lettering consistent, see the next choice.

  • Rhodia Pads

These Rhodia pads are some of my favorite papers for practice because I really like having a dot grid or graph lines to keep my practice consistent, when I’m not using a lightbox. There are also ruled and blank versions, as well, and they come in many different styles and sizes. The Rhodia paper is extremely smooth. These pads are more expensive than the HP Premium 32 paper, but I can get a lot of practice out of one pad. (I love this paper for my fountain pens, too.)

  • Tracing Paper

Tracing paper is an extremely versatile way to practice brush lettering, and many people favor it for practice. It’s thin, so you can see your guidelines, your practice pages, or a design that you’re tracing beneath it, without a lightbox. It’s very smooth. Strathmore makes a nice tracing paper, and there are several other brands that work just fine as well.

  • Marker Paper

Marker paper is another paper that is smooth and very serviceable for practice. The Strathmore Marker Paper is a bit thicker than the Canson Marker Paper. These papers are very smooth, but they aren’t very cost effective and are only a little bit thicker than tracing paper. I’m including them here, though, because marker paper is a very smooth paper that is easy on brush pens, and some people like using it for brush lettering practice.

  • Strathmore Bristol Paper

The Strathmore Bristol Paper is a really nice, smooth, 100 lb., acid free paper that is a great choice for your finished pieces (not cost effective for practice.) It works very well for blending techniques, which can’t be said of all of the other paper choices above. It’s a great quality paper for your final artwork.

Do you have favorite papers for brush lettering? I’d love to know your experiences.

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4 Comments

    1. Thanks so much, Julie. I was a ‘practice on regular copy paper’ for a long time myself! I didn’t know how it was affecting my brush pens.

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