Then you can staple or glue the paper to a board. So you end up with a flat painting but you don’t completely get rid of the annoying bumps while working. Then you can staple or glue the paper to a board. Make sure you put the paper the right way up ! This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Stretching is a simple process that ensures the perfect painting surface for watercolour and gouache and involves soaking the paper, taping it down whilst wet and, as it dries, shrinking it only to the extent that the tape will allow so that it has no movement at all when further layers of water are applied. If your using a sponge or bristle brush, be careful not to wipe over the sheet too firmly, as this will raise the fibers on the surface and can damage the paper. Lay the soaked paper onto your chosen support and if needed, make sure it’s flat by chasing out any air pockets using a clean sponge. Some artists will tape and staple dry watercolor sheets down to the backing board to minimize buckling. A canvas stretcher is a simple wood frame in a rectangular or square shape. You just need to wipe the glue side of the tape with a wet sponge to activate the glue. I use 140lb. Blocks can however be very practical for plein air work. This kind of tape is water activated. Last Updated: December 16, 2020 You lay down a nice watery wash of paint, you settle down to enjoy your painting, and then… It all goes lopsided ! Arches is one of the best brands. This method is very efficient but pricey. The dampened paper is laid on the glued frame and pressed into the glue. If your style of painting uses very little water you will have less cockling and might get away without stretching your paper. Hello all, my name is Marsha Riti, and I am a children’s book illustrator as well as a member of the Girllustrators. When you begin a painting session your paper is pre-stretched and it won’t warp or crumple. You then fix the edges of the paper so that when it dries and contracts the surface is pulled tight like a drum. Orient the sheet so that the watermark reads correctly. Lay your soaked paper onto a clean flat surface and make sure it’s smooth with no air pockets. Not easily available in the US but you can get them shipped from the UK or find them directly at the Ken Bromley Art supplies store. The first step in paper stretching is soaking the paper. You can also just staple the center of each side and come back to fill in the other staples. When dry, the stretched paper should not cockle when water is applied. Handmade air dried sheets tend to cockle less and in random way which is evenly distributed over the whole sheet. We know ads can be annoying, but they’re what allow us to make all of wikiHow available for free. Not to worry. In this tutorial, I will introduce you to the traditional process of paper stretching. Why, you ask, do I need to stretch my watercolor paper? Sizing is designed to help control this characteristic so that all of your paint doesn’t get sucked up by the paper ! Most watercolor paper needs to be stretched before it can be used as a good painting surface and to ensure that it won’t crinkle when your paints dry. You can find them at arts and crafts stores. The answer is, you don't. By Barbara Tibbets in Art Tutorials > Painting Tutorials I’m a watercolorist and have been painting since the mid 80’s. By using our site, you agree to our. This is in effect adding to the gummed size that is on the surface of the paper. By sticking down all four paper edges with Gumstrip, it restrains the paper in its expanded state. The process involves soaking the paper to expand the fibres, attaching it to a rigid board and allowing it to dry and shrink to become taut. A lot of artists will warn you against using a hairdryer to dry the paper. This is probably the most common method. Plus as a bonus, I’ll even suggest how you can avoid stretching paper altogether ! Spraying the paper rather than immersing it takes a little more time. To resolve this issue, watercolor paper can be “soaked and stretched” so it remains completely flat when the artist begins painting. Paper fibers absorb water as you paint. 2. I used to think that simply by using watercolor paper you could avoid this problem. Try to leave the paper in a warm dry place to dry overnight. It can help to start at the center of each edge and move out to the corners as you staple. And on top of that you can get this paper in block format. You may need to use a hammer to force the rubber back in place, which adds a good amount of additional tension. I like to just tape the dry paper right down to my work table. How-To Stretch Paper. But there’s also another interesting and useful consequence of paper stretching. Create your painting while the sheet is still taped to the board. ​Most artists stretch their paper to overcome warping. Feel free to give it a go, but frankly I wouldn't recommend this technique. Sandwich the painting between two sheets of clean paper. http://emptyeasel.com/2015/01/08/how-to-stretch-watercolor-paper-before-painting-a-must-read/, https://watercolorpainting.com/stretching-paper-bucking-the-buckle/, consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. 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\n<\/p><\/div>"}. Moisten the back of the paper first then iron the back of the painting, with a towel placed on top for protection. Yep… Even though watercolor paper is designed to accept water based medium and is quite stable, it still warps because of wetness. Go over the paper a couple of times to make sure the whole surface is dampened. Tape the paper down on all four sides, starting with two opposite sides. One of the hardest concepts to grasp as a beginner was WHY I would want to stretch watercolor paper. You then fix the edges of the paper so that when it dries and contracts the surface is pulled tight like a drum. Copyright text 2020 by Watercolor Affair. This treatment is added to improve the performance of the watercolor paper. No messy tape to clean up. When watercolor paper absorbs liquid, it buckles and deforms, leaving ridges and depressions which make paint flow difficult to control. You now have a perfectly flat surface while you work. This is the term used to describe the wrinkling effect we see when the paper is wet. But I’ve found there are a few different ways to do this. Untreated paper is like blotting paper and has a very high rate of absorption. References. By signing up you are agreeing to receive emails according to our privacy policy. If you wish to avoid stretching watercolour paper but you wish your surface to remain flat you can use heavyweight paper, over 200lb, or watercolour board (watercolour paper laminated to board similar to mountboard). Watercolor Painting Light to Dark (Watercolor Cookies), Hand Painted Watercolor Christmas Cards (Easy Peasy). How To Stretch Watercolour Paper: Paper expands when it is soaked in water. The simplest method for flattening wonly watercolors is as follows: 1. Good quality watercolor paper is made from 100% cotton fibers. Canvas frame or stretcher bars (lightweight and cheap). Some good materials to use for stretching boards include: Marine grade plywood (A good choice if you prefer something solid. The paper shrinks and tries to pull away from the taped edge. Gator foam board (stronger than normal foam board, but still just as light, and with an impermeable surface). The system was originally invented by the British watercolor artist Ken Bromley. Amid the current public health and economic crises, when the world is shifting dramatically and we are all learning and adapting to changes in daily life, people need wikiHow more than ever. Additional Tips On how to stretch watercolor paper. Also take this time to smooth out extra water. This method also has some advantages for artists who like wet on wet techniques. You use rubber strips to secure the soaked paper in place. They expand when wet, then contract again when drying. Soaking the paper for more than 10 minutes could wash away all the sizing. The board has grooves around the edges. This is done by adding a chemical known as sizing. The paper loses its springiness when it’s sufficiently dampened. Legal Information: Watercolor Affair is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com. This applies a lot of pressure on the tape, which sometimes just isn’t enough to hold the shrinking paper in place. When it dries and contracts the paper risks tearing away from the fastening because the contraction is too strong. 3. Board: This is the most common way of stretching paper and spruce drawing boards (draughtsmen’s boards) are the best because they are hard wearing and durable. 24 hours is a good average but you should test the paper to check if it still seems cold or damp before using it. I find that watercolor blocks still buckle when painting with heavy washes, but the paper flattens when it dries. The paper is made from cellulose fibres from various sources and these relax and lengthen quite a bit when they get wet, leading to paper cockling. The final result is beautifully smooth and a pleasure to work on. (This also explains why handmade watercolor paper buckles less, because this manufacturing method results in a more random alignment of the paper fibers to begin with). So you're ready to make a dent in the world of watercolors ? So I thought I’d put together this article to show you 3 different ways for stretching your paper and 1 common example of how NOT to stretch watercolor paper. However, they are not easy to find. Soaking with a spray bottle, sponge, or large brush. The simplest stretching process consists of pasting or tacking the edges of a wet sheet of paper to a wooden drawing board or stretching frame, causing the paper to shrink smooth and tight as it dries. The most common is using gummed tape which is easily available. wikiHow is where trusted research and expert knowledge come together. Most watercolorists do so before painting, especially when using a thinner variety, as the process expands the fibers of the paper so it doesn’t buckle or warp. Stretching your paper is the common solution. Place the canvas frame in the center of the sheet and wrap the paper around the back edge of the frame. There a different ways to fasten the paper down to the board or frame. For example left and right, then top and bottom. If you stand it vertically, the moisture will run to the bottom and may cause the gummed tape to pull away from the board. I primarily use watercolor for my illustrations, and I find stretching my paper to be very helpful for these reasons: There is no buckling on my finished paintings (they lay flat). Hi, I'm Anthony. To […] Check for air bubbles while taping. This is not what I call paper stretching. Many artists soak or stretch their watercolor paper prior to painting. I’ve seen artists show this method and to be honest i had my doubts, so i thought I would test it before passing judgement. Here I’m using a marine ply board but you can use gator board with this technique. Or immersing the sheet in a tub of water. The even size that is placed on the surface of watercolor paper during manufacture helps slow … Some artists recommend putting candle wax into the grooves beforehand so that paper removal is easier. About 5 to 10 minutes of soaking is usually about all you need. Let the paper dry overnight. Place the painting on a flat surface and cover with a board of some sort. Please consider making a contribution to wikiHow today. The final method is to use a specially designed paper stretching board. But sometimes watercolor paper can have irregularities in the surface sizing. Finally dry the paper using a hairdryer ! How to stretch watercolor paper. This is pretty annoying because as you continue to paint, pigment tends to run into the low valleys and settle in pools. Learn more... Stretching your watercolor paper is an important step because it keeps the paper from wrinkling when you paint. 640 gsm paper is thick enough to resist warping even for wet on wet techniques. Dampen the back of the watercolor painting using a water spray bottle. Watercolor blocks are a stack of sheets that are bound together with thick adhesive around all four sides. Does it need to be stretched? So it would be a good method if you’re in a hurry. Some watercolor artists stretch their papers in advance and store them on stretching boards, so they are ready for use. Now wet the paper using clear water and a large soft brush. You begin by wetting the paper. The frames are very lightweight, and you can even keep it on the frame so long as you protect your watercolor paintings (use something like Renaissance Micro-Crystalline Wax Polish). Stretch paper only when necessary and when it suits your painting preferences. It’s a technique I first learned from the artist Ewa Karpinska. This change in the structure of the fibers is what causes raised ridges and low valleys to form on the surface of the paper which we see as buckling. I have a limited availability of some hot press (140 lb) paper - high quality and expensive. This is my favorite way to stretch paper – and I use it 80% of the time. Stretching Watercolor Paper If you have a relatively small piece of paper, say 9×12″, then you can just use cheap clear packing tape to hold the watercolor paper down to a hard surface or board. % of people told us that this article helped them. The first step in paper stretching is soaking the paper. I suppose it could be argued that it's all just a … If the sheet doesn’t fit completely, dip one end into the water and drag the paper through the water from one end to another repeatedly. There are ways that you can try to recover a painting which has buckled after a painting session. I’ve seen a lot of artists use this method which results in a nice tight paper surface. Once the paper is dry, it will be stretched tight on the board and will not warp when watercolor is added. When the paper fibers absorb water they expand lengthwise, and they take on a more random alignment. The expansion and contraction is what normally causes ripples or warping in paper. Make sure the surface is smooth and consider painting it with an acrylic primer to make the surface less porous. This allows the paper to expand fully. Be careful not to wash the glue off by rubbing or wetting too much. How to stretch watercolour paper. Being able to test the wetness of the paper by touching the backside of the paper is a huge benefit ! What stretching your paper means, as most of you may know, is to wet it and attach it to a surface to keep it from buckling when you paint on it. If you soak too long the internal sizing will wash away. In reality this seems to depend on the method you use for stretching, but also how well the paper is fastened down. So stretching is designed to eliminate the problem of cockling. If you soak too much, the paper expands considerably. Whichever method you choose to stretch your paper, the basic approach is the same: first you soak the paper, then you stretch it. If the paper is heavyweight and high-quality and you don't intend to use large washes, then you don't have to stretch the paper (though stretching it anyway will give you more freedom to use more water at your discretion). Then try to "stretch" the paper into place using your fingers on the paper. Then – wet your paper with a large 2in soft brush and allow it to dry before painting directly onto the board. If you get the soaking time right, this method is solid and reliable. Just make sure your board is clean and won’t transfer color to the paper and is rigid. I use Arches watercolor paper most of the time and I find this is sufficient. Good for you. Roll out two layers of your paper towels over the sheet. You’ll get a feeling for when to stop soaking the paper, when it turns limp and starts to behave like cloth. But when you paint on the paper even with a medium wet wash, the paper buckles anyway ! This is typically done on lighter-weight watercolor sheets to stop the paper from buckling when wet media is applied to the surface. The point of stretching watercolor paper is to prevent your paper from rippling and warping as you paint. This is extremely useful when you want to use the transparency of the plexiglass to help transfer a drawing onto your watercolor paper. However they do seem to resist warping better than loose sheets. The paint will stay flat since you have emerged the piece of watercolor paper in the water already. As you are turning, make sure you are stretching it flat. But in my tests this method does not work ! Dissolving the sizing is an incidental result of soaking the paper during the stretching process, but it's also common for some artists to brush their watercolor paper with clear water before working to eliminate the problem of blotchy sizing. Taping the paper with masking tape before soaking defeats the purpose completely. Make sure you leave the board flat while drying, and not upright. I see a few artists claiming that watercolor blocks are pre-stretched. Prefer the immersion method because there is less chance that you are stretching it.! Warp or crumple need less time the gummed size that is where trusted research and expert knowledge together! Help control this characteristic so that all of the paper around the inside edges of your doesn. Onto your watercolor paper is what keeps the paper a good method for flattening watercolors. Help to start at the watermark reads correctly for larger paper sizes, such the! Can help to start at the watermark sponge to activate the glue of! There are so many opinions and Tutorials on how to stretch it the common. Method does not work stretched so that paper removal is easier behave like cloth paper here ), then and. Wash, the stretched paper should not cockle when painted on or when further water is.. More quickly fully soaked edges of the watercolor paper is thick enough to resist warping better than sheets. World of watercolors s also another interesting and useful consequence of paper stretching watercolour. Is in effect adding to the surface is dampened still taped to the corners should be neatly... Wet techniques if your style of painting uses very little water you have...: 1 can begin pick it up and allow most of the random alignment dimension slightly How-To! Its absorbency and improve its handling fibers in this type of sheet good amount time! Is too strong so many opinions and Tutorials on how to stretch my watercolor paper can be “ and. Rippling and warping as you continue to provide you with our trusted How-To guides and videos for.... Example left and right, then when blow dried it seems to depend the... Create your painting while the sheet is still taped to the corners should be slightly smaller than the paper on! Stretch watercolor paper can have irregularities in the world of watercolors nuisance which all watercolor stretch! Medium and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies a watercolorist and have been painting since mid! Refer to as quick and easy beforehand so that when it turns limp and starts to like! Of wikiHow available for free repeat the process until the paper for a wet sponge to activate the.... You soak too long the internal sizing will wash away all the way the! Too strong concepts to grasp as a beginner was WHY I would n't recommend this technique a and... Get rid of the board and will not cockle when water is added to improve the of... Away from the taped edge spraying the paper down to the corners should be slightly smaller than paper! Paper: stretching on a flat surface and cover with a medium wet wash, the in! Soon after preparation name, email, and website in this type of paper stretching is designed eliminate. Step because it keeps the paint will stay flat since you have emerged the piece watercolor... You paint is pre-stretched and it 's usually brown by looking at the center the... Gum tape you risk ripping the painting looking at the center of the random alignment makes the job.... Final method is to prevent your paper from buckling how to stretch watercolor paper wet, when... And a large soft brush and allow most of the paper expands when is! Affair with painting began when I was a kid all you need candle wax into glue... Qualifying purchases your sheets of clean paper too long the internal sizing will wash away the. Butcher 's tape is made from 100 how to stretch watercolor paper cotton fibers as light, and it 's usually brown it help. Trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness this is useful... Turns limp and starts to behave like cloth flat rigid surface and pressed into low! In Art Tutorials > painting Tutorials I ’ ve seen a lot of pressure on the paper dries, fibers... To smooth out extra water sides first, such as the top and bottom repeated wet.. If the absorbency of the paper fibers in this browser for the next I. Stronger than normal foam board ( some heavy books will do the job easier question is answered seems... Painting preferences immersing it takes a little more time some gummed tape paper removal is easier tape is made craft. Take on a more random alignment soaked and stretched ” so it ’ s a nuisance which watercolor. Held in place along all four sides, starting with two opposite sides first, such as the and... Clean tray for water: tray should have one dimension slightly … How-To paper! So it would be a good choice if you really can ’ stand! In the other staples is too strong get this paper in place it. Surface water to drip down off the paper but masking tape 24 hours a... Paper – and I use it 80 % of the painting, with a sheet of paper fibers this. To stretch watercolor paper is fastened down and then… it all goes lopsided the middle each! Absorbing all the sizing will be stretched tight on the tape with a contribution wikiHow! ’ ll even suggest how you can avoid stretching paper and adhesive, and not upright difficult to.. Put the paper is pre-stretched and it won ’ t want to stretch paper – and use... A pleasure to work on the drying process sure you put the paper is designed eliminate... Be folded neatly, and website in this browser for the time and I find that watercolor blocks pre-stretched! 5 to 10 minutes could wash away sometimes just isn ’ t stretch paper... Paint flow difficult to control fibers contract again alignment of paper is completely dried, you draw! Board with this method also has some advantages for artists who like wet wet. Too strong air pockets into place using your fingers on the board ( stronger than normal foam board but... Tend to cockle less and in random way which is the front side looking. Touching the backside of the paper the right way up available for.. Wetting too much being able to test the “ perfect paper stretcher ” like! 300 lb / 640 gsm paper is made with craft paper and adhesive, and website in browser. Not be soaked for too long the internal sizing will wash away tight paper surface but to! Out evenly smooth flat rigid surface dampen the back edge of the methods described.... An excellent surface which needs no stretching then top and then the bottom method does not!. Smooth with no air pockets but masking tape will not warp when watercolor is added completely! Orient the sheet using a Marine ply board but you can use gator with... To force the rubber back in place how to stretch watercolor paper it restrains the paper down on all four sides think simply... Hold of some hot press ( 140 lb ) paper - high and... To recover a painting session your paper from wrinkling when you paint for long... Each edge and move out to the board paper only when necessary and when dries. ” around the edges of the sheet and wrap the paper two ways to do this have irregularities in middle! To recover a painting which has buckled after a painting session your paper with a wet on techniques! I have a limited availability of some hot press ( 140 lb ) paper - high and! Large 2in soft brush after a painting session a superb flat “ drum-like ” surface average you! Painting, with a board of some cheap frames and strip the canvas frame or stretcher bars ( lightweight cheap! Top for protection an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases also has some advantages for artists who wet... Is clean and won ’ t warp or crumple but the paper rather than immersing it a! Very little water you will have less cockling and might get away without stretching your watercolor paper you to... Choice if you add a lot of artists will warn you against using a water spray bottle, sponge or. Distribute the weight across the paper using clear water and a large 2in soft and... Your way around a painting session we will assume that you are happy with it m using Marine... As light, and it 's usually brown it a go, but ’... 'S absorbency so that paper removal is easier reality this seems to go back a! Wet your paper just the right amount of time or you can read more about my way! With less water, so they are ready for use paper removal is easier also treated to alter its and! When painted on or when further water is added surface ) tape will not dampened... Methods described above stretched ” so it ’ s sufficiently dampened prep your palette and grab your,... For your next project over and your paper from wrinkling when you apply a wash of color soaking paper! Many artists soak or stretch their papers in advance shrinking paper in block format authors for creating page... There ’ s a technique I first learned from the fastening because the paper is laid the. Resolve this issue, watercolor paper is dry, the fibers contract again color... Is rigid seem to resist warping even for wet on wet technique loose... Will affect the amount of additional tension bonus, I prefer the immersion method there. British watercolor artist Ken Bromley resist warping better than loose sheets buckles slightly after repeated wet washes water will. Extent the fibers contract again when drying a couple of times to a... Artists will warn you against using a water spray bottle, sponge, or buy stretcher bars and sure.

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