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Fabriano 300gsm, Soft Press Paper - REVIEW

Updated: Jul 14, 2022

Watercolour on Fabriano 300gsm - Soft pressed paper
Gilded Blooms 52cm x 16cm

I tried a number of techniques on the Fabriano 300gsm Soft Press paper to see if it addressed some of the concerns that I’ve lately had with watercolour paper. Having been a Fabriano lover and supporter for years I’ve been frustrated with Fabriano paper in the last 2-3 years as it’s lift-off abilities seemed to have been less than what I had been used to in the past.

I’m happy to share my findings with regards to the following techniques:

- Even wash, wet-into -wet, colour blend, ease of making blooms, granulation and lift-off abilities.

I then painted a small painting to see if my findings added up in practice.

Washes and Colour Blends

The even wash went without a hitch. When the wash was wet, it almost looked as if there were small bits of fluff on the surface of the paper but these disappeared as the paper dried. The wash dried extremely smooth with no visible texture .

The same happened with the colour blend. While the even wash was wet, I did a few wet-into-wet lines on the bottom half of the square and as long as you wait for the wash to be dry enough, it takes the thicker consistency paint very successfully.

Granulation and Visible Texture

On the left are two examples of an Ultramarine wash on different Fabriano papers. Fabriano Soft-pressed paper at the top and Fabriano Artistic Cold-press at the bottom.

Hardly any granulation appeared on the Soft-press paper and I chalked this up to the smoothness of the paper. The Cold-press paper has a slightly more

distinct granulation due to the slight texture of the paper. Not as much as

Fabriano Rough but slightly more exaggerated than the Soft-press paper.

Where this paper fits into the Fabriano Range of papers:

Hot-pressed paper - Super smooth and not for beginners, a bit tricky to work with.

Soft-pressed paper - Very smooth but super forgiving and suitable for all levels of expertise. Reacts the same as the other Cold-press paper, just a bit smoother.

Cold-press paper - Slight visible texture and suitable for all levels of expertise.

Rough paper - Reacts the same as the Cold-press paper but shows a very

visible texture on washes and colour blends. Suitable for all levels of expertise.

Blooms and Special Effects

Blooms happen pretty much the same as on any good paper. Due to the grain of the paper, the expanding lines are quite

feathery and narrow in width.

However, creating the blooms,

re-confirmed my suspicion that the paper

releases colour very well as all the centers of the blooms washed out to almost white.

This is a major plus for me.

Lift-off ability and Scrubbing Out

The real value of a good watercolour paper lies in the ability to lift off paint as well as scrubbing out previously dried paints when you’re trying to correct a mistake. In both departments, the Fabriano Soft-press paper performed very well.

Not only does the paint lift easily but the paper seems to take a good amount of scrubbing without perishing - a bonus for every beginner to intermediate painter.

In my opinion, this paper is suitable for any and all watercolour that does not need a visible texture. I’m most impressed with the lift-off ability and the extra white colour of the paper is a major plus for me. I love the pop of a super white background with a colourful subject matter.

Any subject matter that needs to show lots of detail could very successfully be painted onto this paper as the fine texture will lend itself to small washes and thin lines without disturbing these intricate details with the texture of the paper.

As you can. see in the above image, the colour lifted off easily with one dab of tissue paper. I tried a variety of colours. From the left to right, Sap green, Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine, Cadmium Red Hue, Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue. All the paints were Cotman watercolours.

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