Choosing the Best Paper for Your Brush Pens

Today I’m going to talk about choosing the best paper for your brush pens. Hands down, the question I am most often asked on my personal Instagram account as well as the Tombow Instagram account is “What paper do you use?” or “What paper should I use so my brush pens won’t fray?” Well, friends, today I am going to give you the list of my go-to papers for brush lettering and why you should use them too!

Choosing the best paper for your brush pens | brittanyluiz.com | handlettering + design

First of all, you don’t have to use all of these different kinds of papers! Some are very similar, so if you like one brand or type of paper better than the others, stick to that one. I’ve included my reasoning behind why each of these papers is great so that you know why they’re listed. Choosing the right paper for your brush pens is so important because you want those pens to last! Nobody likes feeling like they’ve wasted their money, so hopefully this post will help you get the most out of your brush pens by choosing the right kind of paper.

Choosing the Best Paper for Your Brush Pens | brittanyluiz.com | Canson XL Marker paperCanson XL Marker Paper

Canson XL Marker Paper is my go-to paper for practicing lettering with my Dual Brush Pens because it’s super smooth and I know it won’t damage the tips. It’s also really thin, which is nice because I can slip some good old fashioned college-ruled paper underneath and have instant guidelines while I letter. Colors blend really well on this paper, however, since it’s not very porous it does take a little longer for ink to dry so keep that in mind as you’re lettering. I usually use a scrap sheet of paper as a buffer between my hand and the ink so that I don’t smudge as I’m writing on this paper.

I only use this to practice or to letter things that I only plan on photographing or scanning. I wouldn’t recommend this for a finished piece that you want to hold onto, since the paper is so thin (it’s 18lb). You can order it online through Amazon or pick up in most craft stores (I know Michaels carries it). It’s also sold by Blitsy, so you might be able to score some for a steal!

Choosing the best paper for your brush pens | brittanyluiz.com | Canson Mix Media paperCanson XL Mix Media Paper

My second favorite paper for practice is Canson XL Mix Media paper. I like this paper because it’s also gentle on my brush pen tips, but it’s thicker and a little more versatile. Since it’s specifically for mixed media, it works great with markers, pastels, colored pencils, graphite pencils, watercolors, etc. It’s not super heavy (98 lb.) so it’s better not to use this for a finished piece that you’d sell, but it works great for practice and personal pieces that you aren’t selling. You can order it online through Amazon or pick up in most craft stores (I know Michaels carries it). It’s also sold by Blitsy, so you might be able to score some for a steal!

Choosing the best paper for your brush pens | brittanyluiz.com | Canson XL Watercolor paperCanson XL Watercolor

I love Canson XL Watercolor paper because it’s very sturdy and the colors stay nice and vibrant on the paper. I use this when I create watercolor wash backgrounds with my brush pens and the paper doesn’t warp, which is exactly what I’m looking for when I use that technique!

You can order it online through Amazon or pick up in most craft stores (I know Michaels carries it). It’s also sold by Blitsy, so you might be able to score some for a steal!

Choosing the best paper for your brush pens | brittanyluiz.com | Canson XL BristolCanson XL Bristol

I love the Canson XL Bristol paper so much. It so super smooth, thick (100 lb) and brush pens look beautiful on it. This is a fantastic paper to use for finished pieces.

I don’t use it much because I don’t sell my work right now, but any time I use it I love wonderful everything looks on it. I know it’s available online through Amazon, but I haven’t ever seen it in a store (that doesn’t mean it isn’t out there though!)

Choosing the best paper for your brush pens | brittanyluiz.com | RhodiaRhodia Pads

There are tons of handletterers and calligraphers who swear by Rhodia. I have the classic orange notepad and a dot pad, which both have really nice, smooth paper. It’s very similar to the Cason XL Marker paper to me, and the Canson paper is easier to find in stores, so I don’t use the Rhodia pads as much for that reason. However, they do come in a bunch of different sizes, including some very small, making them great for traveling! I usually bring one with me in my purse when I go on trips so that I can still letter but not bulk up my suitcase with one of my larger sketchbooks. You can get these on Amazon or through Paper & Ink Arts.

A note on what NOT to use

Please please please don’t use printer/copy paper to practice with your brush pens! Although the paper may feel smooth to the touch, most copy paper isn’t actually considered smooth paper. There are tiny fibers in those papers that can do major damage to your brush tips and will leave you feeling like you’ve wasted your money.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me through the comments below or connect with me on Instagram! I love making new #calligrafriends!

16 thoughts on “Choosing the Best Paper for Your Brush Pens

  1. Hi! I watched your Periscope on not being “perfect” when you start brush lettering. I totally agree—I am not very good right now but eventually I will reach my personal best (after much practice)! Thank you for being honest and sharing your tips for the best paper to practice on!! 🙂

  2. I’m confused. I thought hot-pressed watercolor paper was smoother than cold-pressed paper. Or is the difference between using the brush pen compared to actual watercolor brushed?

  3. This post is SO useful! Thank you! I do have a question regarding the Canson XL Bristol–I’ve noticed that it comes in both Vellum and Smooth. The smooth option seems like it may be even more ideal for brush tips, since the more smoot the better when it comes to brush tip care. Have you used the Bristol Smooth before, and if so, how does it stack up to the Vellum? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

  4. Hi there,
    I saw some hand letterers using regular sketchbooks for hand lettering, but now I’m worried about damaging my brush pens! Is this okay to use? I’ve been writing in a Canson Sketch.

    1. Hi Jade! I’m not very familiar with their sketch pads. I’d check to see if it specifically mentions that it’s a smooth textured paper. The smoother the paper, the less likely it is to tear up your tips!

      1. Thanks so much for responding! It says fine texture, so I’m going to pick up some of the paper you suggested once I reach the end of this sketchbook. Thank you!

  5. Hi! Thank you for this. It helps a lot!

    I was wondering if there are colored papers that one can use with brush pens.
    I have tried searching for it but have found nothing. Perhaps that’s not a thing?

    Any help will be appreciated!

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