ZenART's Membership Plans Terms & Conditions

(Updates effective 17/08/2020)

These terms and conditions (“Terms and Conditions”) govern the ZenART Supplies Rewards & Referral Plan as well as Subscribe & Save Plan (“Membership Plans”), and members of the programs will earn zen coins in connection with the purchase of qualifying online products and online activities that are redeemable towards the purchase of certain products online. For the re-occurring members (Subscribe & Save Plan) this includes exclusive gifts & content.


  • Free. No purchase is necessary to obtain membership in the Rewards & Referral Program, but you must establish an account at https://shop.zenartsupplies.co/account/register . Please see our privacy policy, located here, to understand how information you provide us will be used. This program is void where prohibited.
  • Eligibility. In order to be eligible for the Rewards & Referral Program, you must create an account as outlined in these Terms and Conditions. You may create an account if you are at least seventeen (17) years of age, have Internet access, and have a valid mailing address. If you are between the ages of 17 and 18, you must have your parent’s permission to register for an account. If you choose to create an account, you are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your account, username and password and for restricting access to your account. You are responsible for keeping such information current, complete, accurate and truthful. You agree to accept responsibility for all activities that occur under your account, username and/or password. You agree to provide only current, complete, accurate and truthful information. If you are accessing and using the Site on someone else’s behalf, you represent that you have the authority to bind that person as the principal to all Terms and Conditions provided herein, and to the extent you do not have such authority you agree to be bound to these Terms and Conditions and to accept liability for harm caused by any wrongful use of the Site or Content resulting from such access or use. You may only have one member account per natural person. Persons who are discovered to have more than one account forfeit their zen coins and will be unsubscribed from the Loyalty Program.
  • How To Enroll in the Rewards & Referral Program. (a) Create an account: Visit www.zenartsupplies.com (the "Site" or "Online") and become a registered user of the Site. Click here to be taken directly to the registration page. You will be asked for your first and last name, your email address, and a password. You will also be given the option to sign up for our newsletter. Once you have submitted the requisite information, you will be sent an email to the address you listed confirming your membership. Once you have confirmed your email address, you are automatically enrolled in the Reward & Referral Program and are a member (“Member”).
  • How to Access/Change Your Member Information. You must keep your personal information on your Account up-to-date. To do so, click on the "My Account" section and access your account by entering your registered email address and current password. From your dashboard you can access your account information; review your current and past orders; change your profile; manage your subscriptions and applications, and access your previous purchases.
  • How to Cancel Your Membership. You may cancel an account at any time. To cancel your account, please send an email to support@zenartsupplies.co and write “cancel membership” in the subject line. The email must come from the account currently listed on our servers as being associated with your Rewards & Referral Program. If you no longer have access to that email address, please email our customer service department and we will verify your status and cancel your account. Upon cancellation, you are no longer a member, and any unused zen coins accrued in your account will be forfeited and cannot be redeemed. Zen coins maintain their value only on valid accounts in good standing, and except as otherwise provided here for redemption, have no cash value outside of their redemption value on the Site.


  • General Members can earn zen coins on the purchase of qualifying online products at zenartsupplies.co. To receive zen coins for your Online purchases, you must be signed into your account. You may check at any time to see if you are signed in to the Site by looking in the upper right-hand corner of the site. Gift cards do not qualify for zen coins. Other products that do not qualify for zen coins are noted on the Site.
  • Earning Rate. Members earn 5 sen coins for every $1.00 spent on qualifying purchases (in other words, one (5) zen coins for every one dollar ($1) spent). Zen coins are based on your order subtotal, after any discounts, only. Zen coins are rounded down to the nearest whole number. For example, if you spend $9.99, you will receive 9 zen coins. The calculation is as follows: $9.99 x 1 zen coins per dollar = 9.99 zen coins, which is rounded down to 9 zen coins. This program started on August 17, 2020, and initial levels were set on the 2020 amount spent on ordering products. Note: Shipping and Taxes are not taken into consideration. If an item is return and/or price adjusted that will also be removed from your rewards calculations.
  • Gift Cards. Gift card purchases are not eligible to receive zen coins. However, once a gift card is redeemed, zen coins will be awarded to the recipient for the subtotal after any gift card values, provided s/he is logged into the account, as outlined in these Terms and Conditions.
  • Addition of Zen Coins to Accounts. Zen Coins will be added to your Account under the following conditions, and will generally show up immediately. You will receive zen coins:
    • At the time of account registration
    • During the purchase of qualifying products
    • For other activities outlined on the Site that may show up from time to time. Note that for these other activities, including “bonus zen coins” accumulations and other zen coin promotions, zen coins may show as “pending,” depending upon the activity.
    • Joining the Birthday Club. Birthdate must be entered 30 days before your Birthday to qualify.
    • For Liking the ZenART Supplies Facebook page and sharing the ZenART Supplies Facebook page with your following. This is good one time only.
    • Following ZenART Supplies on Instagram. This is good one time only.
    • Referring a friend to ZenART Supplies. Your account will be automatically awarded the discount only if the referral friend used the link sent to them from your referral account and makes a qualifying purchase. Discount will automatically be applied to account if stipulations are met.
  • Exclusions. Members earn zen coins only on the purchase price of: (i) qualifying online products. Calculation of zen coins excludes payment by the Member for shipping charges and all taxes, including without limitation, federal, state, and local taxes or use taxes. Zen Coins will not be earned on any discounts or other credits offered in connection with a product or service. For example, if a product that is normally $50 is on sale for $25, a Member will only earn zen coins on the purchase price of $25. Purchases of gift cards, redemption of vouchers, and any type of price adjustments, including merchandise returns, are not eligible for zen coins. All purchases made: (i) by a Member prior to such member joining the Program, (ii) Online without a Member being logged onto the Website with the Member's Account number linked to the Member's Online account, are not eligible for Reward & Referral Program credit. The purchase of ZenART Supplies products outside the Zenartsupplies.co website are not eligible for the Reward & Referral Program.
  • Returns/Order Cancellations. Zen Coins earned for a purchase that is then the subject of a return, cancellation, refund, declined credit card or gift card, or other credit will be deducted from your account in an amount equal to the zen coins earned for the original transaction, including any bonus zen coins that may be applicable. Any rewards discounts that are applied to the order, will be distributed equally to the applicable items in the order when completing a return. Zen Coins redeemed on an order will not be reapplied back to your rewards account for any reason on a returned order. If a return/cancellation will cause your account to have a negative zen coin balance, you will not begin earning zen coins again until your zen coins balance is returned to zero (0), by making purchases, or engaging in other promotional activities offered from time to time. If an item is exchanged (different product) any redeemed rewards on the initial purchase may be transferred to the exchange one (1) time only. Rewards used on an order that is canceled cannot be reapplied as they are good for just one use.
  • Bonus Zen Coins Promotions. From time to time, ZenART Supplies may run certain bonus zen coin promotions. Under bonus zen coin promotions, Members can earn additional or "bonus zen coins" in connection with the purchase of certain online products. When you purchase these specially marked products or make the purchase during a bonus zen coins time period, you will earn bonus zen coins on each product, as specified in the offer. Bonus zen coin promotions are subject to the terms and conditions of the offer and may be offered at any time in ZenART Supplies sole discretion. Bonus zen coin offers cannot be combined with any other offer.
  • Limitations on Bonus Zen Coins and Zen Coins, Generally. These terms apply to zen coins and bonus zen coins accruals. If you purchase a product during a promotion and the product comes with an additional, free product, zen coins will not be issued on the retail value of the free product. If you redeem zen coins towards the purchase of a product and pay a portion of the retail price after the zen coin's redemption, you will receive zen coins only on the leftover retail amount you pay, and not on any value attributed to the zen coin you used. If you redeem zen coins towards the purchase of a product in an amount equal to the full price of the product, you will not earn any zen coins.
  • Non-purchase Options for Earning Zen Coins. You may also earn additional zen coins on non-purchase activities. From time to time, ZenART Supplies may offer you the chance to win various prizes, and earn zen coins, for entering into promotions. For sweepstakes promotions, there is NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO PLAY OR TO WIN. Rules and restrictions will apply to such promotions and may be found on the entry page of any promotion.
  • Referring a friend to ZenART Supplies. Email a friend an $8 off coupon on $50 order by clicking “ Earn Zen Coins” then “ Refer a Friend”. Enter the email address of a friend who has not purchased with ZenART Supplies before (if your referral has shopped with us before the referral link will be automatically voided by the system). A referral link will be sent to your friend with an $8 off coupon on a $50 order. $8 off coupon on $50 order will automatically be rewarded to your account only if the referral friend used the link sent to them from your referral account and makes a qualifying first-time purchase with ZenART Supplies. Your Referral friend will receive an $8 off coupon on $50 order, 200 zen coins for signing up, and zen coins from their first purchase made while signed into their new ZenART Supplies account.


  • How To Use Your Zen Coins. Zen Coins must be used in increments outlined in these Terms and Conditions. The maximum number of zen coins that may be used in a single transaction is 10,000 zen coins. Zen Coins may only be used Online at the ZenART Supplies website. Zen Coins towards Products: Members can use their zen coins to reduce the purchase price of a product or to receive a product for free based on the following scale:
    • 500 zen coins = $5.00 off
    • 1,000 zen coins = $10.00 off your at least $50 order
    • 1,500 zen coins = $15.00 off your at least $50 order
    • 2,500 zen coins = $25.00 off your at least $50 order

    Zen Coins can only be redeemed in any combination of the zen coin and increment amounts set forth above. Redemption of zen coins towards purchases of products is subject to product availability. Any rewards discounts that are applied to the order, will be distributed equally to the applicable items in the order when completing a return.

  • Gift cards. Once available, zen coins cannot be used towards the purchase of gift cards. Gift card redemption, however, is eligible for zen coins. Zen Coins accrued pursuant to the use of a gift card will benefit the gift card user, provided the user has an account in accordance with these Terms and Conditions.
  • To Redeem your Zen Coins. Before you begin shopping with us, sign in to your Shop account on our site. Select “Redeem Zen Coins” from the red tab housed in the lower left-hand corner of the screen and select the amount of zen coins you would like to redeem. You will be issued a custom code that you can copy and paste into the discount bar during check out (Please note - only one code can be used). Your total payment amount will be discounted by the amount of zen coins you allocate to the purchase. Note that zen coins may only be redeemed for the purchase price of the product. Sales tax, shipping, and other handling charges assessed in addition to the price of the product are your responsibility and zen coins may not be used to discount these additional charges.
  • Exclusions. Only one account per natural person. Only one discount code can be redeemed per transaction. Rewards redemption codes may not be combined with any other discount codes. Zen Coins may not be transferred or gifted at this time. Zen Coins cannot be used on past purchases. Zen Coins accumulated on different accounts by different members may not be combined or aggregated to make purchases of products or for any other reason. Zen Coins earned in a transaction cannot be redeemed in the same transaction. Redeemed zen coins cannot be retroactively applied to any past order or receive a price adjustment on any order where redeemed zen coins were not applied. Zen Coins have no cash value outside of the ZenART Supplies website and are available only to members in good standing.
  • Zen Coins Expiration and Time Lapses. All zen coins acquired, whether standard zen coins or bonus zen coins, shall expire 180 days from the date the zen coins are added to your account. Zen Coins expire 180 days from the date in which they were assigned to your account. Specific onsite activities in which zen coins will be awarded are set to accrue zen coins based on a time-lapse at the discretion of ZenART Supplies.
    • Sign up: zen coins are added to your account instantly
    • Order: zen coins are added to your account when your order is placed.
  • Once zen coins are redeemed, a discount code will be assigned and we are unable to cancel the discount code and reapply the zen coins to your Reward & Referral account. Discount codes generated by redeeming zen coins do not expire until used. They are a one-time use code, so once it is used it is gone. If an order is returned zen coins will not be reinstated.

4. Subscribe & Save Plan

  • Re-occurring purchase. Purchase is necessary in order to participate in this plan. The plan is worth $6.95 and will be charged to your account on the same date of the month that you purchased the plan, i.e. if you purchased the plan on 19th of January, you will be charged for the plan on the 19th of each month you are a Subscribe & Save Plan member.
  • 15% re-occurring discount. As a member of the subscribe & Save Plan, you are eligible for a 15% discount every time you put an order in place. You are qualified for the discount as soon as you purchase the plan.
  • Cancellation. After a purchase made with a Subscribe & Save Plan, you are not able to get a refund for the plan for the month the purchase was valid for but you can cancel for the following months.
  • Free samples & accessories. These are included for members of Subscribe & Save Plan only. These are not included in each order but the member will be informed when they will receive "extras" in their order.
  • Access to exclusive content. Exclusive access to tutorials, guides, tips & tricks in video, pdf, or audio format will be part of the membership program. Not all exclusive content is available but what is and will be available is up to ZenART Supplies sole discretion.


  • By registering with Zenartsupplies.co and joining the Reward & Referral Program, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions set forth in these Terms and Conditions, as well as any other terms that may be associated with the Reward & Referral Program. ZenART Supplies reserves the right to cancel, modify, suspend or restrict the Reward & Referral Program, your account, the redemption of zen coins, or any aspect of the Program, including, without limitation, the zen coin conversion ratio and the zen coin expiration policy at any time. Any changes can be made without advance notice. ZenART Supplies may make these changes even though such changes may affect your ability to use zen coins already accumulated. You are responsible for remaining knowledgeable about the Program Terms and Conditions. A Member's zen coins balance, as reflected in ZenART Supplies records, shall be deemed correct. ZenART Supplies reserves the right to determine the amount of zen coins in any Member's account based on ZenART Supplies' internal records related to such Member's account. In the event of an inconsistency between the amount accrued in a Member's account as stated on any Member's receipt and ZenART Supplies internal records, ZenART Supplies internal records will control. ZenART Supplies assumes no responsibility for errors caused by incorrect Member information. Your right to transfer zen coins earned or granted under the Program is strictly limited. The sale of zen coins is prohibited and may result in the confiscation or cancellation of your zen coins as well as suspension or termination of your membership, which in each case shall be final and conclusive. All transactions involving zen coins and all Member accounts are subject to review and verification by ZenART Supplies. The zen coins balance in a Member's account may be unavailable for use when an account or transaction is under review. ZenART Supplies may revoke any Member's membership in the Reward & Referral Program at any time if such Member engages in abuse of the Reward & Referral Program or fails to follow the terms and conditions of the Program. Fraud or abuse relating to the accrual of zen coins or redemption of rewards may result in revocation of membership in the Program and may affect a Member's eligibility for participation in any other ZenART Supplies program, present or future. Zen Coins are non-transferable and cannot be redeemed for cash. The interpretation and application of the Program's Terms and Conditions are at the sole discretion and determination of ZenART Supplies. For more information or other questions, click on Contact Us.
  • The Terms and Conditions of the loyalty program are subject to change at ZenART Supplies’ sole discretion at any time and without notice to customers. Upon customer’s at-will termination of their Zenartsupplies.com registered account, or if a customer is termination for violation of these Terms and Conditions or other activities in violation of the intent and good faith intended use of this Site, all zen coins will immediately be forfeited and will no longer be redeemable. ZenART Supplies will make reasonable efforts to award zen coins as outlined above to all 1. registered and 2. qualifying Zenartsupplies.co customers but is not responsible for any technical or unforeseen errors that may occur.
  • Zen Coins are nontransferable, nonredeemable for cash, are nonrefundable and are not valid outside of Zenartsupplies.co. Purchases made outside Zenartsupplies.co are not valid for zen coin accrual (this includes, but is not limited to Facebook resell groups, Ebay, and Amazon).
  • Employees of ZenART Supplies are not eligible to participate in the Reward & Referral Program.

Subscribe & Save Plan

Membership Benefits for Just $6.95/Month

For other currencies, the respective conversion applies.


What Is Watercolor Paper and How It Is Used

What Is Watercolor Paper and How It Is Used

What is watercolor paper made of? | Student Grade and Artist Grade | Textures | Weights | Various Forms

When I first encountered watercolor paper as a student, I was truly amazed. I thought to myself, “Here’s what I’ve been missing all along”. Using the same cheap, student-grade watercolor paints, painting on regular sketchpad paper vs watercolor paper was an enlightening experience. The difference was so great that there’s just no going back. And this wasn’t even the 100% cotton kind. What is watercolor paper exactly and why is it so important to use the right paper? Let me go through the essential information that’s useful to know below.

watercolor palette painting on watercolor paper block
ZenART’s Square watercolor paper (block/pad), 12 x 12 in.

What is watercolor paper?

It is paper specifically made for artists to apply paint on, most suitable for watercolors as its absorbent property allows the transparency of the said medium to fully shine. Nowadays, it’s also used as a substrate for other mediums as well, such as gouache, tempera, acrylic, pastels, graphite, charcoal, and even oil as long as it’s properly primed.

Handmade paper process using mold and deckle.
Handmade paper process using a mold and deckle.

There are various manufacturing processes for watercolor paper. They can be handmade, moldmade (made using cylinder-mold machines), and machine-made. Handmade being the most expensive, strongest, and comes with four deckled edges due to its manufacturing process. Moldmade paper follows with two deckled edges and is still quite strong, but not as strong as the handmade ones. And machine-made for last and usually comes with four straight cut edges. Though there are some that come with added deckling and there are also ways for you to mimic the deckling if you’re looking for that effect.

Handmade paper examples with four deckled edges.
Handmade paper with four deckled edges.

What is watercolor paper made of?

Professional Grade

Professional grade watercolor paper is almost always made with 100% real cotton and is also acid-free. This ensures that your paper won’t slowly start to yellow and break down as years go by, making it of archival quality. Sometimes also referred to as “rag” or “cotton rag”. Using professional-grade paper makes a huge difference and allows for a wide range of beautiful watercolor effects and can take more water and abuse.

Student Grade

This is a much cheaper option for those who are just starting out and exploring. They’re usually made of a combination of wood pulp and cellulose, or cotton and cellulose mix (with cotton at just 25%). This kind of paper is NOT acid-free more often than not and will therefore be non-archival. It doesn’t absorb as well either and layers get easily lifted, so it will greatly limit your painting techniques.

What is “sizing”?

You might have heard of this term in passing. So let me briefly go over this. Sizing is the addition of gelatin to watercolor paper. But for what reason? Adding gelatin allows for a more controlled absorption. Without sizing, the water and pigment will spread willy nilly and it would be such a pain to paint if so. How and what amount of sizing is added will differ across brands, so it will be a matter of personal preference which one you would be most comfortable using.

What are the different textures of watercolor paper?

Hot pressed, cold pressed, and rough watercolor paper.

You’ll find that there are three different textures of watercolor paper that you’ll commonly encounter: Hot pressed, Cold pressed, and Rough. They each have their own characteristics and the choice will depend on your painting style.

For comparison, I painted on the three different textures using the same color (Indigo), brush (#5 Round from the Turner Collection), and testing: color gradation, wet-on-wet, and line exercises.

Three different textures of watercolor paper tested out using indigo watercolor paint and a #5 round brush.
All three were painted using Indigo from the Vista Palette and the #5 Round brush from the Turner Collection, both from ZenART.

What is Hot press watercolor paper?

Close up of hot pressed watercolor paper.

Hot pressed watercolor paper is the smoothest, it still has texture but it’s the least textured of the three. From the term ‘hot pressed’, this paper is made by pressing it between hot metal rollers and as such gives it a smoother finish. This is a favorite choice among illustrators and botanical artists as they like to work with high precision, especially with their highly detailed and delicate painting style. I find that hot pressed paper doesn’t absorb as quickly and as much as the other two. You also need to be careful when layering as you can lift the previous layers much sooner than you think. So just be careful with those brushstrokes.

The smoother texture and great paper thickness make it very suitable for graphite drawing, charcoal, and pen and ink applications as well.

Below is Indigo on hot pressed watercolor paper.

Hot pressed watercolor paper tested out using indigo watercolor paint.

What is Cold press watercolor paper?

Close up of cold pressed watercolor paper.

Cold pressed watercolor paper is the opposite of hot pressed. It’s made by being pressed between cold metal rollers. This process in turn gives it its more textured surface. This is the most popular choice among many artists as it’s quite versatile. The added texture allows for more textural painting effects as the water and pigment can pool and sink into the little depressions on the paper. And yet it’s not too textured that it won’t be able to handle the detailwork. It’s also more absorbent compared to hot pressed, though doesn’t absorb the wetness too quickly, allowing you some valuable working time.

You'll also see this labelled as CP or NOT (not hot pressed). 

Here’s the one for cold pressed watercolor paper:

Cold pressed watercolor paper tested out using indigo watercolor paint.

Indigo from the Vista Palette painted on a 4 x 6 in (Albert Card) watercolor paper block, both from ZenART.

What is the difference between hot press and cold press watercolor paper?

The main differences between the two are their textures and their absorbent properties. Hot pressed absorbs slower compared to cold pressed. It’s also much easier to lift off the paint on hot pressed paper even when fully dry. They’re both equally good paper. It just boils down to preference and what’s more suited for certain styles and techniques.

What is Rough watercolor paper?

Close up of rough watercolor paper.

The aptly named Rough watercolor paper is the one with the roughest texture of them all. It’s rougher because unlike the previous two, it’s not pressed between rollers at all giving it its much rougher surface.

This is not the paper to use if you like to work with detail or want great control with your brushstrokes and effects. The very toothy surface is fantastic for more expressive painting styles as you’ll get beautiful dappled effects when the water and pigment settle into the little craters. And some white bits of the paper remain unpainted if it’s not too wet of an application. Granulating paints and effects will also be intensified and many artists take advantage of this beautiful unpredictability.

And finally for the rough watercolor paper:

Rough watercolor paper tested out using indigo watercolor paint.

What is the difference between hot press and cold press watercolor paper?

The main difference between the two is their texture. Rough is rougher and toothier than cold pressed. Their absorbent qualities are quite similar.

Just like the brushes, the textures of all three papers will vary across different brands. The different manufacturing processes (handmade, mold-made, and machine-made) also affect the variety of textures available.

What is the difference between watercolor paper and regular paper?

Most regular paper is made using recycled wood shavings or wood shavings mixed with a very small percentage of cotton. This allows it to be very thin and have an ultra-smooth surface. And that’s appropriate and more than enough for our general use of paper. Regular paper (like printer paper) usually ranges from 20-30 lb while a ‘thin’ or ‘light’ watercolor paper is 90 lb.

But watercolor paper, since it will be used with a great amount of water, needs to be much, much more absorbent than the regular paper. For this to be possible, the watercolor paper contains cotton in varying amounts that are mixed in with the fibers. If you use regular paper for watercolor, it will drastically warp, buckle and even tear or break down. But with the cotton in the watercolor paper, this issue is highly reduced or even eliminated – depending on the thickness and the amount of cotton.

Different watercolor paper weights and what they mean

You’ll most likely often see the following weights: 90lb / 190gsm, 140lb / 300 gsm, 300lb / 640 gsm. The higher the weight, the thicker the paper. GSM means the grams per square meter, and lb is for pounds per ream. Sizes of sheets in reams differ across brands. So I usually go for the gsm measurement when looking as I find there’s less confusion for me there.

Chart of most common watercolor paper thickness or weight.

If you go for thinner paper, you need to stretch it before using it. Stretching requires you to pre-soak the paper. Then place it onto a clean, rigid surface that won’t easily warp or bend and blot out the excess water with a sponge. But not too dry, mind you. And lastly, tape it down on all four sides using gummed kraft paper tape. Leave it flat to fully dry (best to wait till the next day) and you’ll see that the paper will get stretched so tight and flat. So you’ll be able to use more water than usual when painting, the paper will get stretched flat again once it dries.

I find with my usual go-to, 300 gsm, I don’t have to do pre-stretching for my general painting needs. If I’ll be working with a wetter application, then I use my blocks.

For painting with very, very wet applications, I suggest you use 640 gsm paper. Most professional painters paint on this thickness, or at the very least 300 gsm.

Various forms that watercolor paper come in

Now armed with the knowledge of various textures and paper qualities, it’s time to get to know the different forms you can get them in. You can buy them in rolls (individual sheets too), blocks, pads, panels, and even canvas.

If you’re just starting out you can start with pads and blocks, and not necessarily 100% cotton. But do get the best you can afford as the quality of the paper will greatly limit you and the techniques you can do. Eventually, you can spring for higher-quality paper when you’re more confident that you won’t be wasting it.

Many professional artists opt for buying sheets for their works as they can have the option of using the entire sheet or cutting it up into different sizes. But they also have blocks and pads for general convenience and smaller works. It all comes down to personal preference whichever form you choose.

Rolls or sheets

Rolls of watercolor paper.

Sheets can be bought individually or in a pack and are usually 22” x 30” size-wise. While rolls can be as long as 10 meters. 90 and 140lb paper will need to be stretched before you paint on them, otherwise, they will buckle. If you don’t want to go through this extra step, you can get the 300lb paper.

Watercolor sheets during manufacturing.

If you’re looking to try out various paper weights and textures, this is a good option. You can just start with a sheet of each for testing out before investing big time.

Watercolor blocks

ZenART's selection of watercolor paper blocks.

ZenART’s watercolor paper comes in blocks of various sizes with the biggest measuring 12 x 16 in (Pythagorean 4/3) and the smallest 4 x 6 in (Albert Card).

Watercolor blocks are my favorite. They come pre-glued on the sides so you won’t have to stretch your paper beforehand. A block is just like a pad but with all sides glued together. You just paint on the sheet directly, and even if it warps a bit, it’ll straighten out once it dries as the glue will keep the paper stretched.

Once your work is done, you can remove the top sheet by using a palette knife. Just find the small unglued section (usually at the top-middle) and carefully run the edge of your knife all around until you’ve separated the entire page from the block.

Removing the top sheet of a watercolor block using a palette knife.

The downside to this is you won’t be able to use the sheets below until you’re done with the one at the top. You can of course have several blocks like me since I don’t always get to finish my work right away. And I don’t want to be rushed into finishing it for this reason.

Watercolor pads


Watercolor pads are very convenient to have on hand for sketchbooking, practice painting, and for plein air painting. Pads come tape-bound or wire-bound. Some wire-bound ones come perforated near the wire so you can easily remove each page if you want. This form makes it very convenient to just flip from one page to the next – provided of course that it has dried. And as such is great for bringing along when traveling.

When buying pads just be careful to check all the details so you know what you’re getting. A lot of them contain student-grade paper and that’s why they’re also cheaper. There are student-grade ones that are acid-free, so just make sure to get those at least. But not to worry, there are pads containing artist-grade paper too. If you’re looking for those, just make sure that it checks all the specifics that you’re looking for.

This is what makes ZenART’s watercolor paper so convenient - designed as a pad and a block in one! Just run your palette knife across one glued side and et voila you have a sheet just glued on one side just like on a regular pad.

So what is the best watercolor paper?

The best watercolor paper is the best one that you can buy considering your budget. If money weren’t an issue, there’s no doubt we’ll always choose the best of the best. Especially when it comes to our art supplies.

My personal choice is cold pressed watercolor paper, 300 gsm, 100% cotton, and acid-free. I have it in various forms from pads to blocks and also a few sheets. ZenART’s watercolor paper is the perfect cross between a block and a pad. It’s glued on two sides instead of four allowing for much easier removal. And comes in a multitude of awesome sizes! Coldpressed, 300 gsm, acid-free, and made with 100% cotton - what more can you ask for?

The artworks featured on the covers were painted on the very watercolor blocks they’re placed on by ZenART’s Brand Ambassador, the talented Anastasia Shimshilashvili.

ZenART's watercolor paper blocks in various sizes.

The eagle watercolor painting below is painted on the Square watercolor block (12 x 12 in) using colors from the Art Nomad travel set, both from ZenART Supplies.

Eagle watercolor being painted on a watercolor block using a travel paint set.

There’s so much to consider when choosing which watercolor paper to buy or which is right for your style. But don’t stress too much over it, it all comes down to your own personal preference. I suggest you try them all out so you can fully explore what you can do with each one. Start small or buy in sheets so you won’t be spending so much.

Just keep in mind that the quality of your paper will greatly affect the final quality of your creations. Good-quality paper will allow you to do so, so much more than the cheaper student-grade paper. You’ll be able to achieve effects, techniques, and beautiful granulations and layering that won’t always be possible on cheaper paper.

I hope this will help you narrow down your choices at the very least, or will be a useful guide when you’re ready to invest in artist-grade paper. If you have any questions that I haven’t covered or answered here, please do comment below. I’d love to hear from you and provide more useful advice or information.

Looking for some extra guidance in starting out your watercolor journey? Find out how to choose watercolor paints, what are the essential watercolor techniques to know, and many more in our Toolkit section!

We’d love to hear your thoughts!

What kinds of watercolor paper have you tried using so far? What do you find is your favorite watercolor paper texture? Comment away below! Join our friendly art community Painting Inspiration Daily on Facebook. You can share your art and ideas, watch LIVE tutorials, and be inspired to paint!

Looking to try out oil painting? Watch out for our next Toolkit sharing some oil painting ideas to help you start out. Until then, good luck on your quest to choose the right watercolor paper for you!


Kathleen is the Wordsmith at ZenART, resident artist and art editor. When God sent a shower of talents, Kathleen made sure she got a basketful of them! She's a visual artist with practical knowledge on various fields from painting and sculpture, to costume and set design which comes in very handy when writing about various art techniques and theories. She also shares her passion for the arts through teaching. She runs her own brand of handmade wirework jewelry designs.

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