Adult Coloring Book Reviews

Best paper to print coloring pages on for colored pencils?

If you want to see how your favorite pencils performed on the papers used then jump to that part of the video using the timestamps below

Prismacolor | FC Polychromos | Spectrum Noir | Holbein | Caran D’Ache Pablo | Colleen | Crayola | Tombow Irojiten | Black Widow | Staedtler Ergosoft | Lyra Rembrandt | Marco Raffine | Derwent Coloursoft | Schpirerr Farben  | Muji | FC Classic | WH Smith  | Felissimo | Koh-I-Noor Tritone  | Guang Hui | Tombow Recycled | Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless | Prismacolor Scholar | Jane Davenport | Micador

The most common question that I am asked is -“What paper do you print your coloring pages on?

Over the years I’ve printed my digital coloring pages and books on a range of papers from cheap copy paper to more expensive artist quality watercolor paper. Usually, I decide on the medium that I want to use – pencils, markers, watercolors, and then print on that style of paper. Often, I will just print on the cheap, copy paper so I can “test” out the coloring on the page.

Often I take my digital coloring books to my local Officeworks and have them print and bind the book (this works out cheaper for me than printing on my home printer). Officeworks have a small range of papers to print on from copy paper to cardstock. You can also bring your own paper (or buy in-store) and have it printed for you.

The last time I went to Officeworks and had a book printed on watercolor paper I realised I’ve been doing this all wrong :). I should just get the book printed on a quality paper that will suit pencils that I’m coloring with, rather than have it copied for review purposes and then print out individual pages.

But that’s where I got stuck ….

Which paper is the best for me and the pencils that I own?

Offhand I had an idea of what the best paper to print my digital coloring pages on was for me, but I was not a hundred percent sure.

In order to really know,  I had to test all of my pencil sets and all the papers that I own.  That way, hopefully, I could just buy a few types of paper for printing that suits the way I like to color and my budget.

I am not a paper or coloring expert by any means. The results of my experiments with paper and pencils just reflect the way that I color and what feels good for me 🙂

I tested my sets of pencils on the following papers:

Neenah 104 gsm
Quill 125 gsm
Quill 200 gsm
Neenah 148 gsm
Neenah Solar White
Neenah 352 gsm
Mont Marte Sketch Pad
Reno Art Illustration Pad
Canson Mi Teintes.
Art Spectrum Draw & Wash
Spectrum Noir Pencil Pad
Neenah Vellum
Arteza Drawing Pad
Bristol Drawing Board
Strathmore Colored Pencil

In the video above you can see me swatch and color each brand of pencil on each of the papers. You can use the timestamps below to just go to the chapter of the video that uses your favorite pencil (rather than view the whole thing).

Prismacolor | FC Polychromos | Spectrum Noir | Holbein | Caran D’Ache Pablo | Colleen | Crayola | Tombow Irojiten | Black Widow | Staedtler Ergosoft | Lyra Rembrandt | Marco Raffine | Derwent Coloursoft | Schpirerr Farben  | Muji | FC Classic | WH Smith  | Felissimo | Koh-I-Noor Tritone  | Guang Hui | Tombow Recycled | Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless | Prismacolor Scholar | Jane Davenport | Micador

You can see the swatches for each paper below.

You will notice that some papers show a more vibrant color, others are toothier, some show the colors muted among other variables. This is why it is important to see the pencils on the types of paper. You can then assess how they behave and the effect that is produced,  before diving in and buying a ream.

Neenah 104 GSM

Quill 125 gsm

Neenah 148 gsm

Quill 200 gsm

Neenah Classic Solar White 216 gsm

Neenah 352 gsm

Mont Marte Sketch Pad 150 gsm

Reno Art Illustration Book 150 gsm

Canson Mi Teintes 160 gsm

Art Spectrum Draw & Wash 125 gsm

Spectrum Noir Pencil Pad 160 gsm

Neenah Vellum 67/147 gsm

Arteza Drawing Pad 80lb/130 gm

Bristol Drawing Board 250 gm

Strathmore Colored Pencil 100lb/163gm

Factors to consider when choosing paper to print coloring pages?

When you choose to buy paper for your digital coloring pages there are a number of factors to consider including:


Many brands of paper are quite expensive. If you are an artist or sell your work then the quality of the paper and your purpose for the product may affect how much you are willing to spend on the paper. For me, I just like to print out coloring pages and color them for my own practice and enjoyment. Often I will just use the cheapest copy paper! Work out how much you are willing to budget for the paper to achieve the result that you are happy with.

Printer Size

There are differences in standard paper sizing between the US, UK, and Australia. Many papers that I have tested including Strathmore, Spectrum Noir, and Arteza I had to cut down to fit my standard HP Desk Jet printer. Some home printers also tend to jam or chew up the pages if the paper is too thick.  Always test first by buying a single sheet, if possible, before spending big on a pad or ream. I managed to print the Neenah 352 gsm on the HP Desk Jet printer but I do not think my printer was designed to print that weight and could do it consistently.

If you are having your pages printed at a copy center, check with them before you purchase the paper as to what their weight and size limits are. Officeworks in Australia have told me that they will not accept the paper for printing above 350 gsm.

Cotton/Wood Pulp

The base product of paper is either cotton or wood pulp.

According to Strathmore cotton fibers when produced as paper produce a “surface with great strength and flexibility … purity, durability, and permanence, making them very desirable for artists who want to create a fine art piece that will last.”

Wood pulp paper is generally not as expensive as cotton but also not as durable and long-lasting. It can stand layering and erasing. For my needs and budget, the wood pulp-based paper is fine for me.


Bristol paper is generally available with two types of finishes either smooth or vellum. Both finishes can be used for coloring your pages and it really is a matter of personal preference. The smooth surface will not allow the colorist to build as many layers and depth as the vellum which has a tooth to grip the pencils and allow multiple layers of color to be used.

Color Choices

Paper is available in a range of colors. Many colonists enjoy coloring on a toned paper like Kraft, gray, or ivory as it can affect how the colors stand out. Coloring on  Kraft paper for example will really make the white stand out. Using a warm color may also add an extra dimension or compliment to your coloring (depending on what your color palette is).

If printing on colored paper is important to you, choose a brand that is able to offer a range that suits your needs. Some brands like Canson Mi Teintes have pads that contain a range of colors in one pad.


If you are planning on selling, gifting, or displaying your coloring pages then you will need to use a paper that is durable and can withstand heat and light.  You would normally need to purchase a paper that is free of acids and archival for this purpose.  You can read more about acid-free and archival papers for coloring here.


Paper weight is usually denoted on the ream or pad that you are purchasing either in lbs, gsm or gm2.     The paper weight is usually calculated, according to Strathmore as follows “by weighing 500 sheets (a ream) in the basis size of a particular paper. For example, the basis size (or in other words, the master sheet size) of our Watercolor papers is 22”x30”. If you place 500 master sheets of our 400 Series Watercolor paper in the 22”x30” size on a scale, it should weigh approximately 140lbs.”    Working out the weight becomes more complicated to calculate if there is a different “basis size” or “master sheet size”.    You can read more and see examples on Strathmore’s website here.

There are a number of other ways that people calculate and think about paper weight.   In order to make things as simple as possible, when I think about paper weight I think of the thickness of a paper that will withstand a lot of layering of pencils and erasing.    For this, I want a paper that is sturdy enough to color over an area multiple times without damaging the paper.


My last consideration is availability to purchase.    At the moment, I am finding that it is difficult to locate the art supplies that I want locally due to shortages and delays in restocking.

The bulk of my purchases have been made online.   Items I have purchased from the US this year have taken 3-4 months to be delivered     Due to the lengthy mail delays as a result of  Covid 19 and customs backlogs, I am not purchasing papers from the US and UK as I have done in the past.     I am only buying paper from within Australia at this time where express delivery is available.


At the end of the day, I finally was able to answer the question – what paper should I print my coloring pages on?

For me, I wanted to choose some papers that fit within my budget, printer, readily available, and suit the way that I like to color.   I narrowed down my list to the following papers:

Canson Mi Teintes –  I have used this paper for years and really enjoy the vibrancy that it brings out with the pencils and the way that it can accept multiple layers of pencils.    It is available in a range of colors and sizes in pad or loose format.

Art Spectrum Draw & Wash –  I like this paper for a number of reasons.   It is available in a range of weights and sizes in a pad format.  The fine tooth on this paper suits “delicate” coloring

Reno Art Illustration Pad –  this budget paper is only $5 AUD per pad and that fits my budget very nicely :).  I like to use this paper a lot due to the cost and how it performs with my pencils.     It represents very good value for money.  Even, if  I had a more expensive paper to use I would probably practice on this paper first.

Two other papers that I really like are the Strathmore Colored Pencil and the Arteza Drawing Pad.      At the moment, my budget cannot justify the cost of the Strathmore or a purchase from the US of the Arteza Drawing Pad.      The cost, availability, and necessity to cut down the paper to fit my printer means that usually, I would prefer to use one of the papers listed above.

If I won Lotto  I would buy up big on Strathmore paper 🙂

If I was looking for a smoother paper the papers that I would buy which can all be purchased in Australia are –

Quill 200 gsm – this lightweight cardstock is available in a number of colors, sizes, and weights.  You can buy Quill products at Officeworks in Australia

Neenah Solar White 216 gsm and 148 gsm  – these papers are available in a number of sizes and weights in Australia.   You can buy the papers per sheet or buy the pack or ream.

I hope this post has helped you decide what paper to print your digital coloring pages on.  If you would like me to test other papers please let me know.

Happy coloring x


About the author


I'm Lea and I love everything to do with coloring! If it is a coloring book, a poster or even a bookmark that you can color in, I'm all over it. Of course, a girl has to have some pencils, markers, gelly rolls, pastels and what not to make those pictures pretty and I love those as well.

Whilst my coloring style lacks skill, I am enthusiastic and focused on enjoying the moment and having fun.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.