What is the Difference Between Sketch and Drawing Paper?
In general, the biggest difference between sketch and drawing paper is that Sketch paper is intended for practicing, experimenting, and quick studies, while drawing paper is intended for finished artwork.
Charcoal Sketch on 300 Series Sketch Paper
Graphite on 300 Series Drawing paper - Artwork by Wanda White
Sketch paper is often lighter weight, while drawing paper is conversely a bit heavier in weight. With drawing papers typically being heavier, the artist is able to work on the sheet longer and refine work. The paper can usually stand up to more erasing and more fine detail work.
Sketch paper is typically less expensive, giving you lots of sheets to practice with in your pad. Drawing paper typically will be a bit more expensive than Sketch paper and will usually contain fewer sheets in a pad.
Both sketch and drawing papers are intended for use with dry media such as graphite, charcoal and conte. However, drawing papers typically have a toothier surface, allowing for enhanced variability of tone. Many artists reserve mediums like pastels and colored pencils for drawing paper versus sketch paper since those are typically intended for finished art and the deeper tooth of a drawing paper allows artists to get more depth of color. The toothier surface of a drawing sheet is better for “grabbing” dry media, which allows an artist to create more intense areas of light and dark than what could be achieved on a sketch surface. An artist will also see different results when using various shading techniques such as cross hatching, using a blending stump, or other methods, so it's best to test out different papers and see what your own individual preferences are.
The image on the left below was drawn with graphite on Strathmore 200 Series Sketch paper. The same image was recreated with the same graphite pencil on Strathmore 500 Series Drawing paper. The 200 Series Sketch paper is lighter weight and has a fine tooth surface, while the 500 Series Drawing paper is heavier weight with a medium tooth surface. Darker tones can be achieved on the sheet with the deeper tooth, and a more detailed, crisp drawing can be achieved.
The chart below shows the main differences between sketch and drawing papers.
Strathmore has a range of both Sketch and Drawing papers in many sizes and formats including pads, sheets, art journals, and rolls.
Our most popular sketch product is our 100 sheet 400 Series Sketch Pad in the 9”x12” size (item #455-3). It is 60lb (89gsm), and is a high-quality sketch paper with a hard surface, good sheet formation, and the durability to stand up to a lot of use.
Our most popular drawing product is our 24 sheet 400 Series Drawing Pad in the 18”x24” size (item #400-8). The paper is 80lb (130gsm) and comes in a buttery cream color. It’s great with all types of dry media and is an excellent choice for creating finished artwork. It has a tough, durable surface that stands up to repeated erasures and reworking.