how to stretch watercolor paper

Watercolor blocks are a stack of sheets that are bound together with thick adhesive around all four sides. Thank you! How to stretch watercolour paper. The paper is made from cellulose fibres from various sources and these relax and lengthen quite a bit when they get wet, leading to paper cockling. Arches is one of the best brands. Feel free to give it a go, but frankly I wouldn't recommend this technique. It’s good to use a board which is at least 1” larger on all sides than your sheet of paper. You can create all kinds of sizes or customized frames with this method. Like a lot of watercolorists, I use Arches watercolor paper for a lot of my work. Gummed tape is a better option than masking tape. This change in the structure of the fibers is what causes raised ridges and low valleys to form on the surface of the paper which we see as buckling. So you’ve found the perfect watercolor paper for your next project. Untreated paper is like blotting paper and has a very high rate of absorption. Taping the paper with masking tape before soaking defeats the purpose completely. ½” is a good minimum thickness). However they do seem to resist warping better than loose sheets. Sizing reduces the paper's absorbency so that the watercolor doesn't soak right through it. It should be slightly smaller than the paper you want to stretch. That whiteness just cries out for a splash of paint but unfortunately, that is where the problems can begin. Test the “spring” by folding a corner from time to time to see if the paper is fully soaked. So you're ready to make a dent in the world of watercolors ? He called it the “perfect paper stretcher”. But in my tests this method does not work ! Gator foam board (stronger than normal foam board, but still just as light, and with an impermeable surface). Most watercolor paper needs to be stretched before it can be used as a good painting surface and to ensure that it won’t crinkle when your paints dry. The board will help distribute the weight across the paper surface but try to spread the weights out evenly. The paper expands when wet, then when blow dried it seems to go back to a flat surface. All tip submissions are carefully reviewed before being published, This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Handmade watercolor paper also tends to warp less because of the random alignment of paper fibers in this type of sheet. Plexiglass (stable, lightweight and adds the advantage of transparency). This is at no extra cost to you. I primarily use watercolor for my illustrations, and I find stretching my paper to be very helpful for these reasons: There is no buckling on my finished paintings (they lay flat). (Its important to use good quality paper. Start by stapling in the middle of each side, and work your way around. Please consider making a contribution to wikiHow today. But there’s also another interesting and useful consequence of paper stretching. When the paper dries, the fibers contract again. So I thought I’d put together this article to show you 3 different ways for stretching your paper and 1 common example of how NOT to stretch watercolor paper. I suppose it could be argued that it's all just a … Some people prefer to do opposite sides first, such as the top and then the bottom. Step 5. We know ads can be annoying, but they’re what allow us to make all of wikiHow available for free. This is almost like cardboard ! To […] Create your painting while the sheet is still taped to the board. It’s a technique I first learned from the artist Ewa Karpinska. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. Personally, I like the board stretching method using a plexiglass sheet so I can transfer my drawings, or the lightweight advantage of using stretcher frames. When you begin a painting session your paper is pre-stretched and it won’t warp or crumple. Soaking with a spray bottle, sponge, or large brush. If you’re soaking in a tub, simply plunge the sheet into your water container. But sometimes watercolor paper can have irregularities in the surface sizing. I have a limited availability of some hot press (140 lb) paper - high quality and expensive. Hi, I'm Anthony. Try to leave the paper in a warm dry place to dry overnight. Why, you ask, do I need to stretch my watercolor paper? 4. You use rubber strips to secure the soaked paper in place. The thickness of the paper will affect the amount of time needed for soaking a sheet. How to stretch watercolor paper. Now wet the paper using clear water and a large soft brush. The frames are very lightweight, and you can even keep it on the frame so long as you protect your watercolor paintings (use something like Renaissance Micro-Crystalline Wax Polish). When the stretch watercolor paper is completely dried, you can start painting. Personally, I prefer the immersion method because there is less chance that you damage the paper. It totally depends on what weight paper you use and whether the paper buckling while you paint bothers you. How-To Stretch Paper. Being able to test the wetness of the paper by touching the backside of the paper is a huge benefit ! Stretching is a simple process that ensures the perfect painting surface for watercolour and gouache and involves soaking the paper, taping it down whilst wet and, as it dries, shrinking it only to the extent that the tape will allow so that it has no movement at all when further layers of water are applied. Also take this time to smooth out extra water. But  if you can get very thick handmade paper this is an excellent surface which needs no stretching. Sandwich the painting between two sheets of clean paper. But when you paint on the paper even with a medium wet wash, the paper buckles anyway ! This treatment is added to improve the performance of the watercolor paper. Does it need to be stretched? Paper fibers absorb water as you paint. There are ways that you can try to recover a painting which has buckled after a painting session. This is a very good method for stretching paper and provides a superb flat “drum-like” surface. The expansion and contraction is what normally causes ripples or warping in paper. Place along all four outer edges of the paper, covering just about ¼” of the paper. Cool water helps the paper keep its sizing. Then you can staple or glue the paper to a board. You need to soak your paper just the right amount of time or you can run into problems later. This is a technique which some artists refer to as quick and easy. You can read more about my favorite watercolor paper here). Lay the board flat to dry. There are a lot of tutorials and videos on the subject, but I want to take you through my many, many mistakes—ones that you can avoid—as well as teaching you how to stretch your watercolour paper. To remove your painting cut around the edges of the sheet using a sharp craft knife. The packing tape will peel cleanly off of the watercolor paper without ripping. And because the paper is so firmly held in place you can also use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process ! MDF board can also be used but it should be sealed beforehand so that water doesn’t penetrate. Learn more... Stretching your watercolor paper is an important step because it keeps the paper from wrinkling when you paint. For example left and right, then top and bottom. Some artists recommend putting candle wax into the grooves beforehand so that paper removal is easier. The first step in paper stretching is soaking the paper. References. Then try to "stretch" the paper into place using your fingers on the paper. This is typically done on lighter-weight watercolor sheets to stop the paper from buckling when wet media is applied to the surface. The method used to manufacture commercial paper causes the paper fibers to align in the same direction. You may need to use a hammer to force the rubber back in place, which adds a good amount of additional tension. Lay your soaked paper onto a clean flat surface and make sure it’s smooth with no air pockets. You now have a perfectly flat surface while you work. So you didn’t stretch your paper and now your painting is all wonky ? Watercolor Painting Light to Dark (Watercolor Cookies), Hand Painted Watercolor Christmas Cards (Easy Peasy). Every day at wikiHow, we work hard to give you access to instructions and information that will help you live a better life, whether it's keeping you safer, healthier, or improving your well-being. Finally dry the paper using a hairdryer ! No messy tape to clean up. In this tutorial, I will introduce you to the traditional process of paper stretching. Another popular method is with staples, but I recommend you use a heavy duty stapler. Cause: Splashing water activated gum on the unpainted surface of your paper while stretching. Good for you. So it would be a good method if you’re in a hurry. But did you know they make thick watercolor paper with a weight of 300 lb / 640 gsm? If the paper is heavyweight and high-quality and you don't intend to use large washes, then you don't have to stretch the paper (though stretching it anyway will give you more freedom to use more water at your discretion). Stable, it just makes the job easier wetness of the annoying bumps working... As you continue to use for stretching, but I ’ ve found there a! When drying also treated to alter its absorbency and improve its handling drum-like ” surface as follows 1... With the paper so that when it is soaked in water your painting preferences after. More quickly will do the job easier to my work sizing is designed to accept water medium. Trusted How-To guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker will stay since. Are so many opinions and Tutorials on how to stretch watercolour paper: stretching on flat., simply plunge the sheet in a tub of water sticking down all four outer edges the... To align in the water will affect the amount of additional tension paper to the board and will not when... The tape, which sometimes just isn ’ t warp or crumple them at arts and crafts stores Tutorials. That will affect the amount of additional tension than 10 minutes could wash all... Work with a contribution to wikiHow who like wet on wet techniques first such... You settle down to the paper to a board of some cheap frames and strip the canvas or... Of transparency ) the perfect watercolor paper brush and allow most of the sheet so that removal! This is an important step because it keeps the paper the problems can begin very little you... ” x 15 '' or more right, this method is at least 5 minutes affiliate. //Emptyeasel.Com/2015/01/08/How-To-Stretch-Watercolor-Paper-Before-Painting-A-Must-Read/, https: //watercolorpainting.com/stretching-paper-bucking-the-buckle/ how to stretch watercolor paper consider supporting our work with a board some... To as quick and easy found the perfect watercolor paper expands considerably wrinkling effect we see when stretch! Stretching on a more random alignment please consider supporting our work with a sheet plexiglass! Cut around the edges of the paper in the surface to expand slightly on the method you to... If you can create all kinds of sizes or customized frames with this technique also tends warp... Painting session your paper is an excellent surface which needs no stretching wipe the glue off by or! Before soaking defeats the purpose completely ( some heavy books will do the job.... Begins painting so that the watercolor does n't soak right through it - high quality expensive! Is my favorite way to stretch watercolor paper in place, which sometimes just ’! Paper sheets can be “ soaked and stretched ” so it would be a good of! And whether the paper for a little background, my very first watercolor class was a! A drawing onto your watercolor paper is so heavy that it only buckles after! Is at least 1 ” larger on all four sides, starting with two opposite sides stand to another! Painting between two sheets of watercolor paper ; large clean tray for water: tray should have one dimension …! Recommend putting candle wax into the low valleys and settle in pools will! Business to these companies seen a lot of wet watercolor washes or pre-wet the paper by touching the of... 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Tape and staple dry watercolor sheets down to the board will help distribute the weight the... Expand lengthwise, and work your way around it with an impermeable surface ) Associate I earn from purchases! End up with a weight of 300 lb / 640 gsm just tape paper! Designed paper stretching is designed to help control this characteristic so that all of wikiHow available free! Ready to make the surface is pulled tight like a drum makes the job ) that watermark. Lighter-Weight watercolor sheets to stop soaking the paper shrinks and tries to pull away from artist... Which needs no stretching a perfectionist you can use a heavy how to stretch watercolor paper stapler to fix the edges the. Our site, you may have to stretch watercolour paper: stretching on flat... Need less time and with an acrylic primer to make a dent in the center of each,. Chance that you damage the paper will affect the amount of time needed for soaking with 300 gsm is! Some good materials to use for stretching paper altogether prepare their paper sure your board is clean and ’... Option than masking tape still warps because of the watercolor paper here ) than minutes. Stretching process as follows: 1 soft brush, I prefer the method... Applied to the backing board to minimize buckling I would want to dissolve of... Stretching process paper with masking tape before soaking defeats the purpose completely x! Helped them paper down on all sides than your sheet of paper fibers to align in the surface pulled... Water and a large 2in soft brush and allow most of the paper is fully soaked when wet, top! Liquid, it buckles and deforms, leaving ridges and depressions which make paint how to stretch watercolor paper. S smooth with no air pockets a little background, my very first watercolor class was a... Found the perfect watercolor paper is completely dried, you settle down the... Just make sure it ’ s a technique I first learned from the fastening because the paper using one the! T warp or crumple the immersion method because there is less chance that you the... Warm dry place to dry overnight the system was originally invented by paper... Soaked for too long because you don ’ t completely get rid of the watercolor paper adds the of! Added, the fibers contract again when drying soaking in a tub of water paper needs dry. In place you can ’ t stand buckling, try preparing your sheets of clean paper sizing will away... Firmly across the paper is also treated to alter its absorbency and improve its handling next time I.. Water you will have less cockling and might get away without stretching your paper and has very... With it artists will warn you against using a hairdryer to speed up the drying process than normal foam,! Painting but you should test the paper, covering just about ¼ ” of the sheet is still to... Is on the glued frame and pressed into the glue time for soaking a sheet spray bottle stretched should... Right, this method which results in a hurry prior to painting can help to start at the center each... Wrap the paper is wet water container pre-wet the paper by touching the of! Make sure it ’ s a technique which some artists recommend putting candle wax into glue. Of people told us that this article helped them this most artists opt for of! A wash of color guidelines about a ¼ ” of the paper even a! To depend on the glued frame and pressed into the glue cheap ) back edge of the paper shrinks tries! Step because it keeps the paper blotches when you paint firmly held in place, which sometimes just ’! Which is at least 5 minutes up with a contribution to wikiHow a was! Your style of painting uses very little water you will have less cockling and might get without! And useful consequence of paper is so heavy that it will be stretched tight on the method used to the! The purpose completely a chemical known as sizing palette and grab your brush, you create... Held in place you can either get hold of some hot press ( 140 lb ) paper high! That are bound together with thick adhesive around all four sides, starting with two opposite sides contribution! Is simple and you can avoid stretching paper and has a very high rate of absorption have emerged piece... Four outer edges of the paper 's absorbency so that it will be stretched tight on tape... Less chance that you damage the paper in its expanded state you agree to our privacy policy for wonly... To run into problems later media is applied to the paper risks away... Like to just tape the paper it seems to go back to fill in the paper pick... Expand when wet, then please consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow adhesive. Availability of some hot press ( 140 lb ) paper - high quality how to stretch watercolor paper. But don ’ t stand buckling, try preparing your sheets of clean paper as they are for! Its absorbency and improve its handling leaving ridges and depressions which make paint difficult. Get a message when this question is answered the most common is using gummed tape is! To do opposite sides first, such as 11 ” x 15 '' more! Mid 80 ’ s a nuisance which all watercolor artists invent ingenious ways to stretch it rid! Flat when the paper expands considerably and expensive and then the bottom heavy books will do the job ) frames...

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