Choosing a paper for your artwork prints.

Welcome.  Today I’m talking about paper.

There are a lot of types of paper to choose from.  A lot.  While I won’t talk about every single type (we’d be here all day!), I will talk about the main categories.  Glossy, luster, matte, and canvas/linen are my groupings.

My super simplified descriptions.  Glossy is what most people think of when they’re talking about photos.  They reflect light and are shiny.  Matte is the opposite.  It has no shine.  Luster is a bit in between the two.  A compromise.  Canvas has a lot of texture.

Each paper type will give your prints a different look and feel.  And really it’s a very personal choice as to which is best for your prints.  So I’ll just do what I’ve been trying to do with every post, tell you what I did and why, and then you can apply it or toss it out depending on your opinions.

When I first bought my printers, I didn’t know what paper would work best for my work.  So I purchased a sample pack of paper and printed a colored pencil drawing and a graphite drawing on multiple types of paper and then compared.  Below are six different papers for each drawing.

Graphite leopard.

Colored pencil jaguar.

At a quick glance there really aren’t noticeable differences when looking at them like this.  Because I’m taking the picture from directly above there isn’t any glare showing.  They actually look very similar.  We touch paper though.  Not view it on a computer screen.  And the papers feel very different.  Which actually makes trying to photograph the differences very difficult, and even makes it difficult to describe.

Here is probably the most noticeable viewable difference.

The paper on the left is a luster paper while the one on the right is a matte paper that is a natural color.  It has a very slight cream color as opposed to the white one on the left.  The paper on the left actually produces a bit of a warmer print than some other white papers though.  Subtle but noticeable.

If you’re getting your prints printed from a third party you will mainly have to choose between the broad categories though, and probably won’t have as many choices.  Which could be a good thing!

To show the difference in shine, I took this picture so that the light would reflect strongly off of the paper.  The top left is a metallic paper, top right is a gloss, bottom left is canvas, bottom right is matte.  There is no shine on the bottom two at all.


And a close up of the canvas paper, so you can see what all that texture looks like.



So which paper should you choose?  I can’t answer that for you.  I’m so helpful, aren’t I?!

It comes down to what you like.  It really does.

For my prints I chose a luster paper.  Actually two different ones.  I found that my graphite drawings look and feel the best on a different paper than my colored pencil and black paper drawings.

Glossy paper is just a bit too shiny for prints in my opinion.  Especially if you’re framing it behind glass.

Matte papers are very popular for prints, and you’d think that with the drawing paper having similar reflective properties to matte paper it would be the obvious choice.  But I just didn’t like them.  I tried a few different ones and they just didn’t feel right to me.  It really felt like I was printing on cardstock.  Which I realize is exactly what it is, but it just felt cheap to me.  So many other people do it, their work looks amazing on a matte paper, but again it has to look and feel right to you as the artist.

The luster is perfect for me.  I love the way the prints look and feel.  It looks like a print.  I’m completely fine with it looking like a print.  It IS a print.

So what about canvas paper?  I didn’t test print it.  My work is not canvas paper work and I didn’t feel like wasting ink to print something I don’t even like the feel of.  If you do work that is on a canvas, you would probably like the canvas paper.  It’s just not for me and my work.

My recommendation to you would be to order a picture on a couple different papers and see what you like best.  This should be the same picture really, otherwise you’re not really able to compare.  You may find that you love glossy paper, or matte, or luster.  Different types of artwork will look best on different papers.

What about greeting cards?  Oh, I’m so glad you asked!

I love glossy and matte papers for cards.  Funny how that works.  My favorites vary for what I’m printing on them.  I find that my animals look best on glossy, while the flowers look great on either.  So I use both.

The top card is a matte card, the bottom is glossy.  I normally print with a slightly different setting on the different papers, but I like the results of both.

Again, you really can’t tell a difference in this picture.  The glossy card is much thicker and has a nicer feel to it.  But the top card works great for stationary cards.  It all depends on what you’re plans are.

So was that helpful?  Just make you more confused?  Let me know!

Let me know if there is something in this process that I have missed or you would like me to talk about more.

Thanks for joining me.  Have a great day!


Choosing a paper for your artwork prints. Jessica Lebo Art