First, let’s talk about graphite.Graphite is a crystalline form of carbon which occurs in both metamorphic and igneous rocks. Synthetic graphite can be made by heating carbon based materials. Synthetic graphite has a higher purity (99%) than naturally occurring graphite. Graphite is also used as a lubricant due to it’s slippery texture. This is important to note when working in graphite. Fun side note: graphite can also conduct electricity! Because of graphite’s slippery nature, it will not adhere well to a smooth surface. You’ll have significant trouble trying to create fine detail and layering will be a near impossible challenge. Working with graphite you need a paper with a little tooth to it. Copier paper and other similar papers are not recommended as they have little to no tooth. TIP: NEVER touch your paper with your hands or blend with your fingers! Why? The natural oils on your hands will adhere to the paper and when covered with graphite you’ll see your fingerprints, hand-prints, or smudges!
Now, let’s talk paper.When it comes to making lasting drawings, paper is not “just paper.” There are many factors that go into choosing the best paper for your work and for someone new to drawing it can be quite confusing. Some of the things you’ll hear or see and need to know are:
- Acid Free
- PH Neutral
- Weight / pounds
What I UseWhat I like at the moment are both the Canson and Strathmore brands of drawing paper. Canson Foundation drawing paper seems to have a bit less tooth than the Strathmore 400 & 500 series drawing papers. I especially like the Canson Foundation drawing papers for doing human portraits. Larger tooth papers are not recommended for graphite because the rough texture will make it difficult to get details. It’s also quite difficult to render smooth subjects on rough textured paper. The larger tooth papers are a better option for working in charcoal.
Other Terms You May HearLastly there are four other words you’ll come across when looking for the right paper. They are:
- Bristol Plate (smooth)
- Bristol Vellum
- Hot Press
- Cold Press
Hot Press papers are created using, just as it sounds, heated rollers pressing the paper as it is produced. The process flattens and smooths out the paper, creating very little tooth. Cold Press papers are rolled between cold metal rollers which leaves the paper with more tooth/rough texture.That’s a quick overview of the basics when it comes to papers. Until next time… Keep Creating!