I've been trying out several different brands of watercolour recently. I've finally finished using up the whole pad of Fabriano watercolour paper for this review.
The one I'm reviewing is the Fabriano Studio watercolour paper that comes in 200 and 300GSM.
The pad I used is 12.5 by 9.5 inches, slightly larger than the typical size of 12 by 9 inches that most other brands offer. So if you're keeping Fabriano loose sheets together with the others, this will stand a bit taller.
Fabriano offers several weight and textures for their watercolour paper. The one I have is 200 GSM (90 lb), cold press and acid-free. It's made of 25% cotton and lignin-free cellulose. Generally speaking, artist grade is 100% cotton (e.g. Fabriano Artistico), so 25% is more like student grade. Take note that there are 300 GSM (140 lb) and hot press versions available too.
The surface has a smoother texture, good for line work either with pencil or ink.
At 200 GSM, the paper feels thin. I did not try glazes on it, but I would not want to use too many layered glazes, scrubbing or lifting with it. A friend said that the paper fabric comes off after a few glazes. I will not be surprised.
For the sketch above, I've used a few layers for the leave canopy. The paper still holds up well enough. But I waited for the paper to dry perfectly before adding layers.
Even though the paper is thin, you don't have to worry about it wrapping because each sheet is gummed on four sides to the pad. The paper is also soft, but you'll only know that after tearing off a sheet.
Water absorbs well enough, but because of the weight of the paper, there's a limit to how much it can absorb.
It handles the colours on it quite well. The paper is white and does not seem to dull down the watercolours much.
Overall, durability would be my main concern for this paper. I would use it more for practice rather than doing serious washes and work.
Below are some sketches I did on the Fabriano watercolour paper. Picture links to larger sizes, links go to the individual picture pages. Materials used are sometimes mentioned.
Please note that for this review, I've digitally removed the texture on the uncoloured white surface of the paper.
Sharpie Extra Fine, Schmincke watercolours.
This was drawn and painted on Fabriano Studio 300gsm hotpress. The mixed media I've used here are coloured pencils, watercolour and Caran d'Ache Neocolor I wax pastels. The smooth surface works great with coloured pencils and crayons, and detail work.
300gsm buckles less compared to 200gsm paper. Other than that, the watercolour performs quite similarly. The look of watercolour on hotpress is different of course with less texture, giving it a more stylized look.
Again, before you buy, note the paper weight.