Paper, Paper, Paper – Choosing the Right Surface on which to Paint

What is the best paper to use? Will photo papers work? How about other surfaces that are smooth and non-porous?

I conducted an experiment comparing 18 different substrates (surfaces) pouring Adirondack inks. using markers, blending markers and using blending solution.  You have three ways to see the results:

  1. Watch the videos
  2. Review the results charts
  3. Read the overview of results


I compared 18 substrates (surfaces) and conducted 5 experiments on each. These are the substates that I used:

1 Yupo – 74# 10 Strathmore Bristol 300
2 Yupo – transluscent 110# 11 Borden & Riley #234 Paris Paper for Pens
3 Tile 12 Copic Bleedproof Marker Paper
4 Mitz TerraSkin 13 Bee Artist Marker Paper
5 Mineral Paper 14 Courbet Polycotton
6 Aquabord Claybord 15 Drafix Acetate
7 HP Premium Photo Paper 16 White Board
8 Kodak Ultima Photo Paper 17 Freezer Paper
9 HP Premium Soft Gloss Photo Paper 18 Foam Core


Here are the five experiments:

#1. I used three Copic Markers to make squiggles and look for richness of color and consistency of line.

          BG57 Jasper

          R46 Strong Red

          B69 Stratospheric Blue

#2. I blended the BG57 and the B69 with a very light marker BG90 Gray Sky to try to get them to blend.

#3. I poured the Miner’s Lantern Ranger Adirondack set directly to the paper and used a coffee stirrer or brush handle and a bit of blending solution.

  • Pitch Black
  • Rust
  • Stonewashed Blue

#4. Using the same inks, I poured blending solution first then applied the Ranger Adirondacks, let them move and blended them with the coffee stirrer or brush handle.

#5.  I used alcohol on a cotton ball and tried to remove the paint on step 4 to see if there was any staining and if so what the color was.

Watch the Videos

I think watching the videos is the most profound way to see this experiment. Look for the substrates you use and the ones you have heard about. If you would like to open all of the videos at once, click here to open the videos. You will only need to add the password once.  The password is SURFACE (all caps and no spaces) p.s. I have seen that the title doesn’t always match the video playing it this way. Click on the back arrow and then forward again to load it correctly).

If you like, you can open the album and select the video you want to watch. If you want to just select the videos to watch off a list, click here to open a list with live links. The page will open in a new tab. The password for each one is SURFACE (all caps and no spaces)


Look at the charts

I’ve made a separate chart for each of the experiment  with all of the substrates. Click on the image and the chart will open in a new tab.

There are five charts:





Cost as of 3/10/17

Click to open the Calculation page if you are interested in sources and how the calculations were done.

I used Cheap Joes, Amazon, Jerry’s Artarama and Hobby Lobby to find costs per sheet. Some come in large sheets, some in single items. I computed cost per square inch and then converted to 9 x 12 inches.




Comments in a Chart

Click to open a chart with text comments in a grid.








Transluscent Yupo and Acetate- Inks will move without blending solution; the inks move really fast and are almost wiped off with blending the markers.

Mineral Paper – Markers look better than on Yupo,. Stains more than any other substrate.

Ampersand Claybord – Expensive but nice. Has a matte finish. stain is brown

Photo Papers – Kodak Ultima can be wiped clean, HP Premium Soft Gloss is really strange, weird motion and staining. HP Premium stains yellow.

Marker Papers – Markers are rich in color. Markers don’t blend well. Pouring works with Blending Solution. Poured inks sink into the paper. You could gain some control because movement is minimized.

Foam Core – Surprising bright colors both markers and poured ink.


The poured inks will flow and rock on all of the surfaces if you use Blending Solution first.

Without Blending Solution, the inks sink into the paper on the marker papers and Foam Core.

Marker papers are great if you are only going to use markers and are not planning on blending them.

Markers on many surfaces skip or is not solid. Markers look best on Tile, Terraskin, HP Premium, HP Premium Soft Gloss, Borden & Riley, Whiteboard and Foam Core

Both Translucent Yupo and Acetate are see-through.

Staining can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you use it. There are some substrates that stain: both Yupo papers, TerraSkin, Clayboard, both HP Premium Photo papers, Courbet Polycotton and Foam Core. Mineral Paper cannot be wiped.

If you don’t want staining Tile, Kodak Ultima, Acetate, White Board and Freezer Paper can be wiped clean.

For the budget minded Freezer Paper and Whiteboard are not bad at all.

Tile is actually not that cost effective because of the size of the tile versus the size of paper. It can however, be wiped off after you paint and scan it and there are bargains to be found.

I’m looking forward to your comments and experiences and hope this will be helpful when you select your next substrate.

©2016 Sheryl Williams Art All Rights Reserved.
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