Paper Matters - The Best Papers For Your Brush Pens
Paper Matters - Learn how to choose the right papers for your brush pens

When you’re first starting with brush lettering (or brush calligraphy), you can’t understand why your brush pen is being ruined, especially if you’re using the Tombow Dual Brush Pens because they fray so easily. What are you doing wrong? Is it the way you’re holding the pen or you just don’t know how to use it yet?

The thing about brush pen lettering is that paper matters a lot. If you’re not using the right papers, you’re just wasting your money by buying more and more pens because they get ruined a lot easier.

In this post, I’ll talk about the best papers for your felt tip brush pens. You’re gonna be able to make decisions about which one fits in your budget and help your brush pens live for much longer.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you happen to purchase something, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you! See my full disclosure here.

What Is The Best Kind Of Paper For Your Brush Pens?

As a beginner, it can be tempting to use regular printer paper to practice your brush lettering. After all, you’re still a newbie and you don’t master the art at all. So you’ll probably want to spend less money in your supplies. But what you don’t know is that a regular printer paper can end the life of your pen. Even though it may seem like printer paper is smooth, it really isn’t. And that’s what we’re looking for: smooth paper is great for your pens!

Why Is Smooth Paper The Best For Felt Tip Brush Pens?

On Strathmore’s website (which is one of the brands I’m going to talk about later on) they say: “Smooth surfaces are great for pen & ink, mechanical pencil, airbrush, and markers. There is little to no tooth, making these surfaces great for creating fine lines, detail drawings, or marker drawings.”

Every paper is made of fibres and textured paper has long fibres. With smooth paper, the fibres aren’t as long as any other kind of paper. That is why there’s less tooth, as mentioned above. Amanda Arneill explains on her blog: “Tooth is the amount of roughness that a paper has. While the difference in tooth might be negligible to the touch, the difference on your pen is massive!”

The Best Paper For Brush Pens


Strathmore Tracing Paper

Tracing Paper

Tracing paper is one of my favorite papers to use when I’m brush lettering. Because it’s a see-through paper, you can use guidelines underneath and you can also trace your designs. For example, if you have a pencil sketch on another paper, you can put the tracing paper on top and trace directly with your brush pen. This is my go-to paper for practicing my letters and words.





Rhodia Pad

Rhodia Pad

The Rhodia Pad is among the favorites for many brush lettering artists. They come in various sizes and with different types of sheets. You can get them with blank sheets, lined sheets, dotted sheets and graph paper. This is also a very good paper for your practice sessions.




HP Premium Choice Laserjet Paper

HP Premium Laser Jet Paper

This is a really good paper if you are looking for an alternative for the regular printer paper. It is used in laser printers and their surface is smooth, which why this paper is great for your brush pens.





Canson XL Marker Paper

Canson XL Marker

The Canson Marker Paper is great for any marker, not just felt tip brush pens. The paper is semi transparent, so you can also put some guidelines underneath. They are very thin but it doesn’t let the ink bleed through. They come in a pad of 100 sheets, so it’s really affordable.






Canson XL Bristol Paper

Canson XL Bristol

The Canson XL Bristol is a great paper for finished pieces because they have a heavy weight paper and a smooth finish, so it’s good for your pens. They only come in pads of 25 sheets, but you can pick up the 11”x14” pad, cut it in half and you will end up with 50 sheets. Win!






Strathmore Bristol Smooth Paper

Strathmore Bristol

The Strathmore Bristol pad is very similar to the Canson Bristol paper. It’s fantastic for your finished pieces as it is also heavy weight paper with a smooth finish, so it won’t hurt your brush pens. They only come in a pad with 20 sheets, but you can always get the 11”x14” pad and cut it in half as well.





Why You Shouldn’t Use Your Brush Pens on Printer Paper

If there’s one thing I want you to learn after reading this post is the following: don’t use regular printer paper! Your pens will fray and the ink won’t last much. Unless you’re using a cheap brush pen that you don’t mind losing quickly (or if you don’t mind wasting your money by needing to buy others brush pens over and over again ), just stay away from it. Use it for sketching, for practice with pencils and other types of pen (like a micron, for example) but please, let your brush pens last longer.

Since we’re talking about felt tip brush pens here (they are non-refillable), it’s pretty obvious that they don’t last forever. They will run out of ink one day. It all depends on how much you’re using each brush pen. But using the right papers will help your pens live much longer than you expected.


I have to refer to Amanda Arneill’s post one more time, because she talks about a paper that is good for finished pieces as well and it’s the one that she personally uses. Even though I haven’t tested it myself yet, I completely trust her!

She talks about the Lynx FSC – Certified Cover Stock Smooth Finish, which comes in a pack of 50 from Amazon. The paper has a smooth finish and the size is 11”x17”, which you can also cut in half. Amanda says she uses it all the time for her work, so I will definitely give it a try sometime.

If you have any questions about papers for brush pens, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. If you found this post help, please share it your friends, family or however you’d think might appreciate it!


The Best Papers For Brush Pens