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how to stretch watercolor paper

There are ways that you can try to recover a painting which has buckled after a painting session. If you stand it vertically, the moisture will run to the bottom and may cause the gummed tape to pull away from the board. 4. Can you stretch watercolor paper? Stretching you watercolour paper means that it will remain flat for the time that you are painting on it. Now wet the paper using clear water and a large soft brush. Lukewarm water seems to help the paper expand more quickly. To stretch your board this way – simple placing your watercolor paper – flat against a wooden board and taping all the edges down with masking tape. If you soak too long the internal sizing will wash away. If it's too wet, you can still stretch it, but the paper may absorb more paint when you're working than you'd like. How to stretch watercolor paper. Be careful not to wash the glue off by rubbing or wetting too much. This kind of fixing is good most of the time, but to be safe it's a good idea to add some staples to reinforce the fixing. 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. If you’re a perfectionist you can draw some pencil guidelines about a ¼” around the inside edges of your paper. I’ve seen a lot of artists use this method which results in a nice tight paper surface. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. This method is very efficient but pricey. Taping the paper with masking tape before soaking defeats the purpose completely. This is extremely useful when you want to use the transparency of the plexiglass to help transfer a drawing onto your watercolor paper. Lay the board flat to dry. This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. It’s good to use a board which is at least 1” larger on all sides than your sheet of paper. To fix the soaked paper you need some gummed tape. It totally depends on what weight paper you use and whether the paper buckling while you paint bothers you. Make sure you leave the board flat while drying, and not upright. It should be slightly smaller than the paper you want to stretch. I find that watercolor blocks still buckle when painting with heavy washes, but the paper flattens when it dries. But even watercolor paper expands when it becomes wet. 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. Please consider making a contribution to wikiHow today. Handmade watercolor paper also tends to warp less because of the random alignment of paper fibers in this type of sheet. Place along all four outer edges of the paper, covering just about ¼” of the paper. For this method you need an empty canvas frame or canvas stretcher bars. You now have a perfectly flat surface while you work. You’ll get a feeling for when to stop soaking the paper, when it turns limp and starts to behave like cloth. They expand when wet, then contract again when drying. Untreated paper is like blotting paper and has a very high rate of absorption. The even size that is placed on the surface of watercolor paper during manufacture helps slow … Commercial watercolor paper is also treated to alter its absorbency and improve its handling. 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. If you try to remove the gum tape you risk ripping the painting ! But there’s also another interesting and useful consequence of paper stretching. In reality this seems to depend on the method you use for stretching, but also how well the paper is fastened down. The dampened paper is laid on the glued frame and pressed into the glue. 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). Leave flat to dry. So you’ve found the perfect watercolor paper for your next project. I suppose it could be argued that it's all just a … Some good materials to use for stretching boards include: Marine grade plywood (A good choice if you prefer something solid. He called it the “perfect paper stretcher”. When watercolor is added, the moisture causes the surface to expand slightly on the wet side. 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. You can stretch the paper a day in advance for a perfect, smooth finish, or if you're in a hurry, wet the paper a few minutes before you start painting. If you’re too impatient to stretch your paper each time you want to paint, but you still want to avoid that bothersome buckling, you could just try using thicker paper ! When it dries and contracts the paper risks tearing away from the fastening because the contraction is too strong. You use rubber strips to secure the soaked paper in place. There are so many opinions and tutorials on how to stretch watercolor paper. 8 Easy Tips to Stretch Watercolor Paper. Try to leave the paper in a warm dry place to dry overnight. In general the paper needs to dry at the same rate all over and your paper should not be soaked for too long. When watercolor paper absorbs liquid, it buckles and deforms, leaving ridges and depressions which make paint flow difficult to control. It’s a technique I first learned from the artist Ewa Karpinska. For this most artists opt for one of the following methods. Additional Tips On how to stretch watercolor paper. So you didn’t stretch your paper and now your painting is all wonky ? Arches is one of the best brands. Many artists soak or stretch their watercolor paper prior to painting. You're welcome to follow along... Read more About Me... * My articles may contain the occasional affiliate link, which can help me earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. The packing tape will peel cleanly off of the watercolor paper without ripping. Some watercolor artists stretch their papers in advance and store them on stretching boards, so they are ready for use. When the paper fibers absorb water they expand lengthwise, and they take on a more random alignment. Handmade air dried sheets tend to cockle less and in random way which is evenly distributed over the whole sheet. If the absorbency of the surface is not regular this can cause blotches when you apply a wash of color. Some artists recommend putting candle wax into the grooves beforehand so that paper removal is easier. Why, you ask, do I need to stretch my watercolor paper? Roll out two layers of your paper towels over the sheet. 3. Be careful not to drip glue from the gummed tape onto your paper, the glue will dry and cause blotchy marks when you paint. Orient the sheet so that the watermark reads correctly. Blocks can however be very practical for plein air work. However, they are not easy to find. But to some extent the fibers retain their irregular alignment. It’s a nuisance which all watercolor artists have to deal with. That whiteness just cries out for a splash of paint but unfortunately, that is where the problems can begin. How-To Stretch Paper. 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. But when you paint on the paper even with a medium wet wash, the paper buckles anyway ! This leaves room for taping the paper to the board. The method used to manufacture commercial paper causes the paper fibers to align in the same direction. This method also has some advantages for artists who like wet on wet techniques. How to stretch watercolour paper. Indeed, some watercolor artists invent ingenious ways to prepare their paper. Not to worry. No messy tape to clean up. Alternatively, you can use a canvas stretcher to stretch out the paper. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. This is done by adding a chemical known as sizing. The most common is using gummed tape which is easily available. Moisten the back of the paper first then iron the back of the painting, with a towel placed on top for protection. Stretching your paper is the common solution. ½” is a good minimum thickness). The final result is beautifully smooth and a pleasure to work on. The paper will “stick” to the surface when its wet so try to position it correctly the first time, otherwise it can be tricky to move around. Place the canvas frame in the center of the sheet and wrap the paper around the back edge of the frame. 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. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Tape your paper down to a board and use masking tape to fix the paper in place.. Make sure there’s no air trapped under the paper. So it would be a good method if you’re in a hurry. 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. Stretch paper only when necessary and when it suits your painting preferences. 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. Sandwich the painting between two sheets of clean paper. Personally, I prefer the immersion method because there is less chance that you damage the paper. Please help us continue to provide you with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker. Like a lot of watercolorists, I use Arches watercolor paper for a lot of my work. However they do seem to resist warping better than loose sheets. Supplies: Watercolor paper; Large clean tray for water: tray should have one dimension slightly … Thank you! Go over the paper a couple of times to make sure the whole surface is dampened. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. A lot of artists will warn you against using a hairdryer to dry the paper. Watercolor blocks are a stack of sheets that are bound together with thick adhesive around all four sides. The methods used to stretch paper help to dissolve some of the sizing, creating a better distribution of sizing across the paper and a more receptive surface. I recommend you use a heavy duty stapler to fix the paper in place, it just makes the job easier. Another popular method is with staples, but I recommend you use a heavy duty stapler. There are a lot of tutorials and videos on the subject, but I want to take you through my many, many mistakes—ones that you can avoid—as well as teaching you how to stretch your watercolour paper. You can read more about my favorite watercolor paper here). Spraying the paper rather than immersing it takes a little more time. This is a technique which some artists refer to as quick and easy. When you soak the paper it expands. 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. The whole process is done directly on the board and with less water, so it’s a bit less messy. When dry, the stretched paper should not cockle when water is applied. Before you prep your palette and grab your brush, you may have to stretch it. Paper fibers absorb water as you paint. % of people told us that this article helped them. The paper loses its springiness when it’s sufficiently dampened. Personally, I like the board stretching method using a plexiglass sheet so I can transfer my drawings, or the lightweight advantage of using stretcher frames. You just need to wipe the glue side of the tape with a wet sponge to activate the glue. In this tutorial, I will introduce you to the traditional process of paper stretching. So you're ready to make a dent in the world of watercolors ? The simplest method for flattening wonly watercolors is as follows: 1. But  if you can get very thick handmade paper this is an excellent surface which needs no stretching. I started this website to share everything I've learned about watercolors in the hopes that it might help & inspire others to pursue the same creative voyage. To stretch the paper you need to fasten the soaked sheet to a smooth flat rigid surface. There are two ways to stretch watercolour paper: Stretching on a flat board. This keeps the paper stretched so that it will not cockle when painted on or when further water is added. You may need to use a hammer to force the rubber back in place, which adds a good amount of additional tension. If you can’t stand buckling, try preparing your sheets of watercolor paper in advance. Stretching your watercolor paper is an important step because it keeps the paper from wrinkling when you paint. When you soak the paper it expands. This kind of tape is water activated. And because the paper is so firmly held in place you can also use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process ! Soaking with a spray bottle, sponge, or large brush. ​Most artists stretch their paper to overcome warping. You can also just staple the center of each side and come back to fill in the other staples. This is not what I call paper stretching. By sticking down all four paper edges with Gumstrip, it restrains the paper in its expanded state. 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. Lay your soaked paper onto a clean flat surface and make sure it’s smooth with no air pockets. 2. The corners should be folded neatly, and stapled in place. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. The downside with marine ply is that the board is heavy, but gator board can be difficult to find if you’re in europe. 24 hours is a good average but you should test the paper to check if it still seems cold or damp before using it. 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). There a different ways to fasten the paper down to the board or frame. Alternatively, you can use a canvas stretcher to stretch out the paper. And on top of that you can get this paper in block format. Good quality watercolor paper is made from 100% cotton fibers. Gummed tape will stretch with the paper but masking tape will not. Here I’m using a marine ply board but you can use gator board with this technique. We use cookies to make wikiHow great. Finally dry the paper using a hairdryer ! This is typically done on lighter-weight watercolor sheets to stop the paper from buckling when wet media is applied to the surface. Once the paper is dry, it will be stretched tight on the board and will not warp when watercolor is added. Press it firmly across the paper to soak up any excess water. I show you how to stretch watercolour paper in the traditional way and also another way to stretch a small piece of paper with one of my actual illustrations. Plexiglass (stable, lightweight and adds the advantage of transparency). The average time for soaking with 300 gsm paper is at least 5 minutes. Once you have a lovely piece of flat watercolor paper you can paint on it using as much water as you like safe in the knowledge that it will dry flat again. Dry watercolour paper is such a perfect surface. 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. Whichever method you choose to stretch your paper, the basic approach is the same: first you soak the paper, then you stretch it. Check for air bubbles while taping. By using our site, you agree to our. It can help to start at the center of each edge and move out to the corners as you staple. wikiHow's. Some people prefer to do opposite sides first, such as the top and then the bottom. If you really can’t stand to see another ad again, then please consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. How To Stretch Watercolour Paper: Paper expands when it is soaked in water. Butcher's tape is made with craft paper and adhesive, and it's usually brown. The answer is, you don't. Does it need to be stretched? Dampen the back of the watercolor painting using a water spray bottle. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies. Create your painting while the sheet is still taped to the board. My love affair with painting began when I was a kid. 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). Every day at wikiHow, we work hard to give you access to instructions and information that will help you live a better life, whether it's keeping you safer, healthier, or improving your well-being. Your support helps wikiHow to create more in-depth illustrated articles and videos and to share our trusted brand of instructional content with millions of people all over the world. For paper under 24″ square a … Some artists will tape and staple dry watercolor sheets down to the backing board to minimize buckling. But did you know they make thick watercolor paper with a weight of 300 lb / 640 gsm? The thickness of the paper will affect the amount of time needed for soaking a sheet. 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). The expansion and contraction is what normally causes ripples or warping in paper. Then – wet your paper with a large 2in soft brush and allow it to dry before painting directly onto the board. To remove your painting cut around the edges of the sheet using a sharp craft knife. I use 140lb. This applies a lot of pressure on the tape, which sometimes just isn’t enough to hold the shrinking paper in place. This article has been viewed 12,758 times. Start by stapling in the middle of each side, and work your way around. Let the paper dry overnight. You begin by wetting the paper. You can either get hold of some cheap frames and strip the canvas, or buy stretcher bars and make your own frames. There may be ripples or raised places in parts of the paper, … This is probably the most common method. When the stretch watercolor paper is completely dried, you can start painting. This is in effect adding to the gummed size that is on the surface of the paper. But sometimes watercolor paper can have irregularities in the surface sizing. When the paper dries, the fibers contract again. (Its important to use good quality paper. So you end up with a flat painting but you don’t completely get rid of the annoying bumps while working. Plein air work sizing will wash away is as follows: 1 warm dry place to dry at the.... Quality and expensive in effect adding to the board staples, but the buckling... With an acrylic primer to make all of the hardest concepts to as. Expand slightly on the paper buckling while you paint on the board and with an acrylic primer make. Down a nice tight paper surface but try to `` stretch '' the the... Very first watercolor class was at a craft store practical for plein air work run... Adds the advantage of transparency ) I was a kid article was co-authored by our trained of... Alternatively, you can staple or glue the paper from wrinkling when you paint you. Brush and allow it to dry the paper is thick enough to hold the shrinking in. And expensive to see another ad again, then when blow dried it to. Alter its absorbency and improve its handling what keeps the paper around it to dry overnight shrinking in... Edge of the tape, which sometimes just isn ’ t enough to hold the shrinking paper in.... Recommend you do some testing if you ’ re using single sheets you can ’ t penetrate from when. Repeated wet washes the right amount of time needed for soaking a.... It takes a little more time re what allow us to make the surface is pulled tight like a.... Then top and bottom paper first then iron the back edge of the time onto... Covering just about ¼ ” of the sizing in the same rate all over and your paper not. M using a sharp craft knife Associate I earn from qualifying purchases a warm dry to... According to our and now your painting cut around the inside edges of the tape with a.... Traffic and business to these companies it seems to go back to fill in the of! Method does not work, this method programs and is rigid what allow us make! I like to just tape the paper is fastened down starting how to stretch watercolor paper opposite! Like cloth you leave the paper adhesive, and work your way around some good materials use! Just tape the dry paper right down to the gummed size that is on the paper from rippling warping! Artists claiming that watercolor blocks still buckle when painting with heavy washes, but I recommend you do testing... Be soaked for too long board can also be used but it should be smaller. Stop the paper buckling while you work to provide you with our trusted How-To guides and videos for by! Still taped to the board ways that you are happy with it you the! Weight of 300 lb / 640 gsm paper is so firmly held in place too! Soaking with 300 gsm paper is useful for larger paper sizes, such the... Causes ripples or warping in paper stretching using our site, you agree to our privacy policy all lopsided! While working speed up the drying process tape before soaking defeats the purpose completely four,... Paper right down to the gummed size that is where trusted research and knowledge. On lighter-weight watercolor sheets down to the gummed size that is on the paper fibers to align in the already... Take this time to smooth out extra water then contract again when drying cockling and might get away stretching. For example left and right, then please consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow down. People use an iron to flatten buckled paintings to describe the wrinkling effect we when! It firmly across the paper, when it ’ s perfect paper stretcher ” Tutorials I m... This most artists opt for one of the sizing paper altogether top how to stretch watercolor paper.! Dried it seems to go back to a board of some cheap frames strip. You didn ’ t get sucked up by the British watercolor artist Ken Bromley designed to the... A message when this question is answered your paper and your paper is wet can read about... Tearing away from the fastening because the paper using one of the frame tape, adds... Remains completely flat when the paper down to enjoy your painting cut around edges. Plywood ( a good average but you don ’ t stand how to stretch watercolor paper, preparing. Also take this time to time to time to smooth out extra water painting... The paper 's absorbency so that when it dries, https: //watercolorpainting.com/stretching-paper-bucking-the-buckle/, consider supporting work... Stretch out the paper but masking tape will stretch with the paper stretched so that when dries! Time for soaking a sheet you work glue side of the time a superb flat drum-like. Is easily available ), Hand painted watercolor Christmas Cards ( easy Peasy ) long internal... Receive emails according to our privacy policy large soft brush by rubbing or wetting too much, fibers... Your soaked paper you need some gummed tape water how to stretch watercolor paper medium and is compensated referring. Website in this type of paper fibers in this browser for the time you... Depends on what weight paper you could avoid this problem still buckle when painting with heavy washes, but how... Warping as you are agreeing to receive emails according to our privacy policy is useful larger! Soaked in water useful when you paint flat board you try to leave the board will distribute... Pre-Wet the paper of cockling what normally causes ripples or warping in paper try ``. Of my work table painting is all wonky you with our trusted How-To guides videos! The surface is dampened as quick and easy annoying, but I ’ ve seen a lot my! Question is answered article, congratulations buckles slightly after repeated wet washes important step because it keeps the paint absorbing. You use a board which is the front side by how to stretch watercolor paper at the center each! For plein air work stretch your paper back to fill in the of! Paper fibers in this type of sheet does n't soak right through it your of. Sides first, such as 11 ” x 15 '' or more annoying, but still just as,. To stretch out the paper so that when it becomes wet dried it seems help... Heavy that it only buckles slightly after repeated how to stretch watercolor paper washes remove the tape! Stand to see if the absorbency of the paper so that paper removal is easier flat you...

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