Budget Friendly options for Watercolor Paper – Canson Montval and Fabriano 1264 (video)

Canson Montval Vs Fabriano 1264 Watercolor Paper

In this video, we take a close look at the differences between Canson Montval and Fabriano 1264.

Why these papers?

Because a cost-effective paper that isn’t frustrating to use can be a bit of a unicorn chase for the budget-conscious artist! Has someone finally figured out how to balance price and performance?

Both of these papers seem to be in direct competition aiming to capture the attention of artists looking for a moderate price and moderate performance cellulose paper that fills the need for a study paper, while still offering better-than-student lifting and layering potential.

See how each paper holds up as I measure layering capability, durability, lifting capability and performance in painting.

Watch the Video

Lately I found myself wanting to sketch more freely, more frequently, and in a small and manageable format. I’m not really up for the pressure of a 100 a day project, but I did have visions of a small sketchbook, filled with 5×7 postcard sized landscapes in watercolor and gouache.

I didn’t want to be disappointed if some of the paintings in the book wind up awful, and I didn’t want to pay a lot for the ongoing foray into process, so I found myself considering two watercolor paper books at about the same price.

Why not get both and see which one I’d have told myself to get if I had a time machine?

Photo showing two watercolor paper pads, canson montval and 1264 by Fabriano on a woodgrain tabletop

So here it is: a look at both Fabriano 1264 and Canson Montval.

I’ve used the Montval before, but the Fabriano was new to me and I was hoping to love it.

What tests did I design to evaluate both papers?

  • Durability of the watercolor paper under tape and masking fluid.
  • Transitions between watercolor washes in a flat gradient
  • Ability to lift watercolor using a scrubber brush and absorbent dabbing.
  • Layering with wet on dry and integrity of wet on dry layers.
  • End-to-end painting of quick landscape studies.

Something I’ve noticed is that while my favorite watercolor paper is a cotton rag paper, the paper I use the most by volume is not. Without the ability to freely “waste paper” it would be impossible to develop skills, visual vocabulary, and different preliminary versions of an idea. 

(I’ve definitely talked about this before in this post – you might like to check that out.)

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