Acrylic paper is one of the most common surfaces that artists use for acrylic painting. This is because it’s cheaper and more portable, which provides many advantages for artists who want to paint on a budget and on the go.
However, not all acrylic paper is created equal. Different papers have different textures, weights, and absorbencies, which can affect the outcome of your painting.
To help you choose the best paper for your needs, we’ve put together a list of our top ten picks for the best acrylic painting paper. We’ve included a variety of papers to suit different budgets and preferences.
So, whether you’re a beginner acrylic painter or a seasoned pro, read on for our top ten picks for the best acrylic painting paper.
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Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Paper
Buy Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Paper
This is an incredibly popular and high quality professional grade acrylic paper, it’s also reasonably priced! The paper is 400gsm, which is one of the thickest papers on this list. Use a variety of techniques, like thick impasto, thinned washes or building multiple layers of colour on the paper, without the paper warping. The colour of the paper is a warm toned off white and the texture can be described as similar to linen. Although the paper has a texture to it, it’s possible to render fine details without them being obscured.
Although this paper is designed for use with acrylics, you can also use it with other drawing and painting media, such as charcoal and pastel. The paper has a toothy surface, so drawing media like pastels will grip to the surface. Pads come with 10 sheets, that are easy to tear from the glued binding and are priced at around $9.72 for a 9×12″ pad.
Grumbacher Acrylic Pads
These pads are superb quality, with 15 sheets of 300gsm paper, this is one of the heavier papers on the list. The thicker the paper, the more durable and stable the surface is and the less likely it will be to warp when using with washes of colour.
Because this paper has a fairly smooth, but dimpled texture, it is suitable for use ink and marker as well as acrylic. The subtle texture makes rendering details a dream and it will make colours appear more luminous on the surface, compared to more absorbent and textured papers.
Get this pad in two different sizes, 12×9″, or if you like working larger, 18×12″. Prices start at around $10.12 at the time of writing, so the pads are reasonable for the quality.
One interesting feature of this pad, is that Grumbacher has designed ‘In & Out” pages, for which they have a patent pending. This means that you can remove the pages from the wirebound pad, to scan them, or photograph them, then slot them back in to keep them flat and covered.
Clairefontaine PaintOn Mixed Media Pads
Buy Clairefontaine PaintOn Mixed Media pads
If you’re looking for an even smoother surface to work on, then the Clairefontaine PaintOn pads might be more up your street. However, they do have a slight tooth, so they’re suitable for use with a range of media, including pastels! Use these pads for mixed media techniques with acrylics, or with acrylics alone.
The awesome thing about the Clairefontaine PaintOn Pads, is that they come in six different colours. Choose between black, white, natural, sage, denim and grey. Painting and drawing on toned paper has many benefits and it makes bright colours pop!
PaintOn paper is extra thick and feels like card, which provides artists with stability, it’s also acid-free and archival quality, so you can choose to use it for professional work as well as practice.
These papers come in a smaller size at 6×8″, so if you want a sketchbook that you can pack away small into a bag to paint plein air, this could be a great choice.
If you work with a range of media, such as pastels, coloured pencils, acrylics and ink, this could be the ultimate choice, as this paper performs incredibly well regardless of the painting or drawing media used. It’s also reasonably priced, for 20 sheets of 9×12″ paper, you would expect to pay around $15.19.
Canson Montval Acrylic Paper
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At a weight of 400gsm, this is one of the thickest papers you can get and it has a texture that withstands diluted washes of acrylic colour. Choose to paint with thick impasto technique, or with thin glazes, as the paper will resist warping. The paper is gelatin sized and the texture could be compared to cold pressed watercolour paper.
This paper is a great option for professional artists, but equally, for students who wants to invest in a quality paper. The pads have 10 sheets and a 9×12″ pad costs around $9.42 at the time of writing.
Canson Plein Air Canva Artboards
Buy Canson Plein Air Canva Artboards
This paper is a unique and practice choice for artist who love to take their acrylic supplies out and paint en plein air. The pages are extra thick, as the high quality Canson paper has been laminated to conservation board. This provides optimum stability and completely rids of the possibility of the paper warping or buckling. So you can use expressive and gestural techniques, without worrying about the paper being damaged.
The pads come with 10 board sheets, and in three different portable sizes, so you can take them on any trip or pack them in your bag for when inspiration strikes. The paper has a canvas texture, so is perfect for use with the dry brush technique. The paper is incredibly lightweight, so it’s easy to carry around, and easy to take to class.
Although this pad of artboards is great for plein air painting, it’s also perfect for studio use. You don’t need to tape the paper to a separate board for stability, as you would with other acrylic papers. Work with the paper upright at an easel or flat at a table.
Yupo is primarily used with watercolour paint, but it works great with acrylics too! This is a totally unique surface, in that it is made of Polypropylene. It’s completely smooth and non absorbent. Due to the non-absorbent properties, colours will sit on the surface and will look much brighter and more vibrant compared to when painted on absorbent papers.
The other interesting features of this paper, is that it completely resists warping, buckling and tearing, so you can be confident that the paper will stay completely flat when applying washes of colour.
There are a few different varieties of this paper to choose from, including papers in a circular format rather than square. Another variety is the translucent paper, which is create for creating wonderful layering effects.
This paper is archival quality, so it’s suitable for use for professionals who want to sell their work. It can take some getting used to painting on this paper due to its unusual properties, but it can yield some distinctive effects, so if you like experimenting with art supplies, get creative and try it out.
Canson XL Oil and Acrylic Paper
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This pad from Canson is ideal for artists who want a versatile surface to paint on. It’s designed for students, but has many attributes of professional quality paper, so it can be used by both! The paper is heavyweight and can be used with both oil and acrylic paints. Prices start at around $12 for 24 sheets, which makes it an inexpensive option for students.
The Canson XL Oil and Acrylic Pad has 24 sheets of paper that are each 9×12”. The paper is acid-free, and thick, at 290gsm. The acrylic paper has a canvas texture, which feels wonderful to paint onto. You don’t need to prime this paper before painting and the paper is completely bleedproof.
The Canson XL Oil and Acrylic Pad is a great choice for artists who want to experiment with different mediums. This isn’t the thickest paper on the list, but a paper of 290 gsm can stand up to washes of colour and gestural techniques without buckling. If you use lots of washes, the paper may start to warp a little, so make sure to tape it to a board.
Winsor & Newton Oil & Acrylic Paper
Buy Winsor & Newton Oil & Acrylic Pads
This acid-free pad contains 10 sheets of heavyweight 230 gsm paper. The paper has a smooth surface with a subtle tooth that is perfect for fine details and use with fluid paints.
Paint will dry faster on the surface compared to more textured papers, plus colours will appear more luminous due to the smooth quality. The heavyweight construction means that the paper won’t buckle or warp under heavy layers of paint. This is an archival quality paper, that is relatively inexpensive, starting at around $9.55 (at the time of writing) for a 9×12″ pad of 10 sheets. The paper is slightly warm in tone, because it is free from optical brighteners. Because it is acid-free, it will not discolour or degrade with age.
Arteza Mixed Media Art Pad
This pad contains 60 sheets of 180 gsm paper. The paper is double-sided, so you have the option to use both sides.
This paper would be perfect for students, or those who want a large pad to create practice studies and improve skills. The texture is fairly smooth, so it’s great for detail work and achieving an even coverage
The pad also has perforated pages, so you can easily remove individual sheets for framing or displaying.
Strathmore 300 Series Canvas Paper Pads
Buy Strathmore 300 Series Canvas paper
The Strathmore 300 Series Canvas Paper Pads are another great option for artists who want to paint on canvas paper. The pads contain 10 sheets of 187 gsm paper. The paper is much thinner than the 400 series, but the prices are slightly cheaper.
Prices start at around $7.97 for 10 sheets in a 9×12″ pad. The pads are glue bound and have a dust cover on the front to protect the paper. Use a variety of media on this paper, from alkyd and oil, to casein, tempera and acrylic. Because this paper isn’t ultra-heavyweight, it can buckle or warp slightly when applying washes of colour. Make sure to tape the edges down to a board before painting.
The Strathmore 300 Series Canvas Paper would be suitable for studies, practice works and final pieces. If you like how your painting turned out, varnish it for extra protection and frame it behind glass.
What makes a good acrylic paper?
The best acrylic paper will have a couple of key attributes that make it perfect for painting with acrylics. Firstly, the paper should be heavyweight, so that it doesn’t buckle or warp when wet paint is applied. Secondly, the paper should be acid-free so that it doesn’t discolour or degrade over time. Acrylic will bind to pretty much any kind of paper texture. However, if you want bright colours and fine details, opt for a smoother paper. Textured paper is great for dry brushing and for those who prefer working on canvas textures.
Whether you want to create studies, composition sketches or final pieces, paper is an excellent surface for acrylic painting. We hope you found our review helpful, if you did, share it on social media using the buttons below!
For beginners, we have a run down of our favourite acrylic painting tutorials. Work through each of the tutorials to learn everything you need to know about acrylic painting!