Tips for choosing a surface for drawing and sketching

Artists sketch and draw on many different surfaces, but the most popular is cartridge paper. It got its name when it was used to wrap gunpowder for cartridges in the early 19th century. While this use ceased long ago, the name has become synonymous with any general grade of drawing and sketching paper.

There are many types of cartridge paper available. The most popular are often white with a slightly toothed surface and are light to medium weight. Internally sized papers (see our guide to sizing paper) can also be used quite well for drawing and sketching, but a harder, surface sized paper is necessary if a lot of rubbing out and reworking is necessary.

The degree of coarseness, or tooth, of cartridge paper will also contribute to the character of your work and how the final image will appear.