Frequently Asked Questions – Traditional FineArt

What is the difference between a calendered, matte, rough, extra rough and torchon surface?

Smooth, calendered surfaces
Calendered paper acquires its very smooth, glossy surface by being compressed between heated rollers after leaving the paper machine. Watercolours appear that much more brilliant on this surface. Glossy surfaces are excellent for the finest detailed drawings, glazes and washes, where the paint can be removed again. These papers are however not as suitable for large-scale wet in wet work.

Matte surfaces
Matte surfaces are used for delicate paintings and are suitable for beginners because of their slightly irregular surface that impacts only slightly on brush control and paint flow. These surfaces can be recommended for all watercolour painters who like to work with fine details.
Users can obtain full brush strokes in the wet in dry technique and even glowing colour gradation using the wet in wet technique.

Rough surfaces are integrated in the painting and produce bold pictures with relief effects. The rough, irregular, grainy structure makes watercolours appear more vivid and is the most popular surface.The textured surface is created either directly during production on the cylinder mould machine or by an embossing process after production. Rapid brush strokes on dry surfaces, lightly applied, leave unpainted areas on the surface. White “points of light” in the hollows of the surface that have not filled with paint lend the painting an attractive appearance. In the wet painting technique the deeper areas take on more colour. This creates light/dark effects that contribute to the brilliancy of the colours. Paint can be removed from these papers right down to the original white. (Exceptions to this are papers containing rag). This surface is ideal for atmospheric paintings, for two-dimensional colour application and for extreme wet in wet techniques.

Extra rough surfaces.
This distinctive surface emphasizes the “points of light” effect. When using this surface it is best to work with the wet technique using ready mixed paints.

The term torchon comes from the French and is associated with a very coarse linen structure. Papers with this designation have a distinctive undulating surface structure. Paints flow differently on these papers than on the other watercolour papers. With wet in wet most colours bleed a lot and produce prominent halos. In addition the colour is integrated into the sizing creating brilliant pictures. Torchon papers are not suitable for beginners but are predestined for experienced painters.

As a rule of thumb:
If you want to paint in more detail and realistically then matte surfaces are recommended. For generous, painterly methods or grainy techniques rough and torchon surfaces are more suitable.

Which watercolour paper is the correct one?

Generally speaking this is a subjective decision. Artists and amateurs should select their papers depending upon experience and motif. Here are some recommendations.

“AquarellSelection” watercolour pad with 12 different Hahnemühle watercolour qualities demonstrates the diversity of the surfaces and grammages available. Ideal for finding the most suitable paper to match your personal aptitude.
“Allegretto 150 gsm” watercolour paper for dry techniques and techniques using less water.

First Experiences
“Hahnemühle 200 gsm”, matte and rough
“Burgund 250 gsm”, matte and rough
“Britannia 300 gsm”, matte and rough
“Cornwall 450 gsm”, matte and rough

Advanced and Professionals
“Turner 300 gsm”
“Leonardo 600 gsm”, matte and rough
“Torchon 275 gsm”

Eager to experiment
“Pastel Velour paper”
“Ingres 100 gsm”
“Bugra 130 gsm”

What is the difference between mould-made watercolour paper and academie watercolour paper?

The difference and hence the difference in name of both product lines stems from the different production processes and the resulting paper quality. Two types of machine are employed in the production process, the Fourdrinier machine and the cylinder mould machine. The Fourdrinier machine uses a continuous wire or screen that moves along like an endless belt. The stock or water pulp is sprayed or dropped onto the moving wire. This belt is vibrated along prompting the water to drain out through the wire leaving behind the pulp that solidifies into an endless sheet of paper. This process ensures that the fibres are deposited in one direction only, impacting on paint flow thus ensuring the predictability of the colour gradation. Up to 110 m of paper/min are produced on the Fourdrinier machine.
By contrast traditional paper production uses a cylinder mould machine where the cylinder is immersed in a vat full of pulp slurry. Water is pumped out of the cylinder whilst the cylinder rotates. The rotating motion means that the fibres are deposited haphazardly onto the circulating felt producing the sheets of paper. On genuine mould made papers the pigment flow is therefore not predictable so these papers are reserved for more experienced artists. The slower the cylinder rotates during production, the higher the quality of the finished product. These high-quality mould made papers have 4 deckle edges. Up to 14 m paper/min are produced on the cylinder mould machine. The term “mould made paper” was originally used to describe hand made papers (from the vat). The present-day automated production resembles handmade production in the slow, careful production process. Hahnemühle is one of the few artist paper companies worldwide that continues to use this production process today.

Pads or single sheets

Pads are recommended for everyday use. The high quality Hahnemühle watercolour pads are gummed on all sides with a gauze strip that ensures optimal flatness of the paper. The finished painting is removed from the pad using a folding tool once it has completely dried and has smoothed out.

Single sheets, in the case of mould made paper with genuine deckle edges and watermark, offer an even higher quality painting surface as a result of their attractive appearance. Especially for wet in wet painting technique these sheets can be dampened in water for hours without being damaged. Before painting the larger sheets should be stretched over a strong supporting surface (chipboard panel) using adhesive tape or tacks.

Are all Hahnemühle papers acid free?

Yes! All Hahnemühle papers comply with DIN 6738, ISO 9706, ANSI Z 39.48-1992 and are:

  • Neutrally sized and therefore acid free
  • possess a pH value between 7,5 and 9,5
  • are at least 4% calcium carbonat e(CaCO³) buffered against air pollution buffered
  • wood-free
  • made from chlorine-free (tcf/ecf) bleached pulp and/or rag fibers
  • lightfast
  • extremely age resistant – more than 100 years (highest life expectancy category)