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Sketch Paper vs Drawing Paper

sketch paper vs drawing paper
The main idea is to use sketch paper for planning, practicing, and figuring out what you want your art to look like and even experiment with strokes while using a drawing paper for finished projects that will have more depth, details, pigments, and textures.

Most artists use sketch paper because we all know how practice can make you better at something and that is essentially what they’re trying to achieve before committing hours of their time and talent for a finished project on a more high-quality drawing surface.

Difference Between Sketch and Drawing Paper


Sketch paper is thinner compared to drawing paper, it is because it is meant for light and fast sketches. Artists use this paper to keep for their future references, of course, you can use a much cheaper type of paper or any paper that you have in hand for that matter but the longevity will not be the same, these sketches must last for a long time.

You don’t want your references to fade or to turn yellowish in just a few years, we want to prolong their condition so that when we need to go back for a future artwork, we can still see what we needed from the sketch reference.

Drawing paper on the other hand was made a little thicker and heavier compared to the sketch paper since it should be capable of enduring layers of different shadings as well as erasures here and there. The more detailed finished drawings tend to go through long hours of work and more mediums are used.

Mediums that work best in drawing papers are graphite, charcoal, dry monochromes, soft and oil pastel, markers, pen, and ink. While most dry mediums work fine in sketch papers.


sketch paper

It will be easy to feel the difference between sketch and drawing paper textures, the former has a smooth surface, and the latter has a significant roughness to it. Again, these are clearly due to their purposes since it will be easier for artists to do their fast and light sketchings on smooth paper compared to a rough one.

The roughness of drawing paper is also known as “tooth”, which describes its surface, paper with more “tooth” is rougher while a paper with less “tooth” is considered the smooth paper. Knowing what paper to use is a significant detail artists need to identify because of its practicality.

Imagine drawing on a smooth surface using oil pastel and not getting the pigment that you want, or detailing your drawing with a pen or a marker on a smooth surface that will most likely not absorb the ink and not give justice to the color payoff.


Drawing papers usually cost more compared to sketch papers, you also get fewer sheets to work with compared to sketch paper pads. Both experienced and new artists will use more sketch paper throughout their creative careers, especially new artists who are just starting to learn how to do different shadings and strokes for subjects that they have never drawn before.

It’s a practical choice not only for your budget but also for your time and efforts, you want to make sure that your work, may it be your sketches for archival purposes or final representation will last a very long time and will not fall apart just because of the paper that you used.


As I’ve mentioned earlier in this article, sketch paper and drawing paper were made having different purposes, to begin with, and will therefore function differently, it is still your freedom to choose whichever paper you want to use for your artworks of course but using these papers according to what they were made of will protect your hard work in the long run.

Sketch papers are used during studying, and learning about what you want to draw and how you want the drawing to reflect on actual paper, it’s the experimentation paper, in short, drawing paper is where you put in all of your concepts and everything that you learned from the trial and error process that you think will look good if you implement in the final artwork.


You will get different results using different papers, since the sketch paper has a smooth drawing surface it will give you fewer details and yes, fewer pigments too, and since drawing papers have more tooth, it would show darker shades, more pigmented colors as well as more intricate details of a drawing.

Here are the Mediums that Will work great with Each paper:

drawing paper

Sketch paper

  • Oil pencil
  • Colored pencil
  • Different types of chalk
  • Graphite

Drawing paper

  • Ink
  • Charcoal
  • Soft and oil pastel
  • Graphite
  • Markers
  • Dry monochromes
  • Pen


We hope you learned a thing or two about your craft and how something as trivial as paper could affect different aspects of your art. I’ve been saying this over and over because I want people to be reminded that there is no set of “rules” when it comes to art and that most of these are just guidelines to help you decide better but the choices are still fully yours to make.