Friday, October 22, 2021


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Papers for Ink Drawing 

I was planning to make a post for paper and inks together this week, but I assume most people are not interested in reading an Iliad length post, so I will concentrate on paper this week and do inks next week. This way I can touch on all the major aspects of pen and ink drawing before we run out of October.

 I love paper, maybe too much, but that is a love story for another time. Let’s talk about paper for ink drawing. You will get the best results with pen and ink using a smooth paper in a medium to heavy weight like cardstock or Bristol Board. However, if you are making daily drawings for Inktober, you might want a bound book to keep all 31 drawings and your sketches together for the year. In 2019 I used an 8 x 8 Illo Sketchbook, which I have already reviewed it in an earlier post. I have tried out other brands since then, and if the Illo is not available for you, there are plenty of alternatives now.


Image of the Ohuhu marker pad from
Ohuhu Marker Pad
(Image from

Ohuhu Square Marker Pad 

The Ohuhu square marker pad comes in various sizes, but I have the 8.3” square version. It contains 78 sheets (156 pages) of 120 lb smooth paper. While it is meant for alcohol markers, it is also suitable for ink drawing. The tight surface allows your pen to glide without catching on any texture. I had no issues with bleeding, but I didn’t use heavy washes. This isn’t the kind of paper that will hold a lot of water since it is made for illustration markers with fast drying alcohol inks.

The size is perfect for daily ink drawings, and the perforated pages will stay in place until you decide to remove them. Just like with the Illo, the Ohuhu pad has a hard binding with a ribbon place holder and an attached elastic band. It also lays perfectly flat and features a back pocket just like the Illo. One thing that this book includes that the Illo doesn’t is a square plastic protective mat that prevents bleed through and indentations on the unused pages. The mat is the exact size of the page, so you can keep it tucked in the book when not in use. The price is comparable to the Illo at around $17, but the Ohuhu book has more pages. You can also save a little bit by using Amazon’s Subscribe & Save, which is not available for the Illo book at this time.

Image of Paul Rubens hot press watercolor book from
Paul Rubens Hot Press watercolor book
(image from

Paul Rubens Hot Press Watercolor Pad 

I bought the teeniest size of this watercolor book because I had never used the brand before, and I want to do miniature artworks with it. This book is a whopping 3.8 x 5.2 inches in size, and it contains 20 sheets of 140 lb, acid-free, 100% cotton, hot press watercolor paper. Hot press is better for ink drawing because it has a smoother surface than the cold press or rough varieties, but it still has a slight tooth.

 While the stout paper will hold a wash, adding water will likely cause some feathering and spreading on tight lines. I used both technical and dip pens with no additional water on this paper, however, and the ink lines stayed crisp and fine. Even though it is a small book, it still lays flat and has a back pocket and a stabilizing elastic band just like the Illo and Ohuhu books. The Paul Rubens 3.8 x 5.2 book is only ten bucks, while the 7.6 x 5.3 size is $15, and both sizes come with a choice of black or pink cover. Again, this is high quality cotton rag paper, not a sketchbook.

Canson XL Mixed Media Pad
(image from
Canson XL Mixed Media Pad 

I know I have discussed this paper in other posts, but I figured I would discuss the Canson XL Mixed Media pad for ink drawing as well. I have bought several of these pads in pretty much every size available. The 98 lb moderately smooth, acid-free surface is very amenable to both technical and dip pens. I have used it for pen, pencil, colored pencil, brush pens, watercolor and Inktense pencils, watercolor and gouache paints, and alcohol and watercolor markers. The paper handled everything I threw at it except for heavy washes and wet layers. The surface does not have the tooth for heavy dry layering, either. This is an affordable line that is widely available. I have bought most of my pads from my local Walmart.   

While looking for the Amazon listing for the Canson mixed media papers, I discovered that there is now a “rough” version of this paper that is heavier (114 lb) with a toothier surface. I will be buying a pad and reviewing this version in a later post for sure!   

Inktober Sketchbook Part II 

Even though I already reviewed the Inktober sketchbook by Eye Sooksabai in my October 8 post, I want to give it a mention here too. I have been using it primarily to sketch ideas and write notes for each prompt, but I also used some technical pens on some pages with no problems. It’s cute and functional, and there is more than enough room for sketches and finished drawings. If you don’t use ink washes or heavy layering, the paper will hold up just fine. I use a scrap piece of heavier card to place between my working page and the rest of the book to avoid leaving indents or bleeding on the clean pages.

Since I mentioned this for the other books, I will add that this is a paperback cover that does not lay flat. Now keep in mind that this $9 book is not from a major brand but an indie artist/publisher, so it wouldn’t be fair to compare it to any of the products above.

Image of Inktober sketchbook with collection of pens and paper
The Inktober Sketchbook by Eye Sooksabai

Again, my next post for the last Friday in October will dedicated to ink. Let me know if you have a favorite paper for pen and ink drawings, and feel free to share any Inktober related information in the comments. Have a great weekend!

Update 1 November: I had some technical issues for the past few days, so I wasn't able to post the ink blog as planned. Since we are already in November, I feel like it is best to move on to another series. Most people will be ready for some color now, so I look forward to posting about some of my new painting supplies. 

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