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Hahnemuhle: 440 Years of Papermaking

Date: 01-02-2024


Paper is the most varied surface you can work on. We stock over 150 artistical papers, each one of which provides you with a unique set of surface characteristics.

For an in depth look at these properties, such as how sizing affects colour application, and what art papers are made from, check our previous blog on Hahnemühle Fine Art Papers:
Hahnemühle Fine Art Papers for painting, drawing, and printmaking.
This year, Hahnemühle celebrates 440 years of papermaking in Germany, still using the pure, soft spring water from the Solling mountains. This ensures the highest quality for their papers, all of which are acid-free and age-resistant.

Buying paper in sheets has many advantages over buying pads or blocks. For a start, it’s much cheaper, as you don’t pay for the expense of padding. You also have a greater variety of papers to choose from than those offered in pad form, and a sheet can provide many different shapes and sizes. Many pads only come in “A” sizes, an awkward proportion compared to the classic ratios, such as 3:4 or 7:9, easily made from a sheet by a ruler and scalpel. Handmade and mould-made papers retain their genuine deckle edges and watermarks, sure signs of quality.
Unfortunately, sheets of paper tend to look very similar, at least at first; so let’s take a look at a few of the 40 Hahnemühle papers we offer by the sheet, to all in need of a blank piece of paper.

250gsm Stella is a superlative drawing paper, especially for artists whose techniques require lots of layering, erasing, and working back into the surface, because Stella is a “highly calendared” paper. This means that during manufacture, the paper has been pressed at very high pressure, resulting in an especially hard paper. Stella can be pushed beyond what most papers will take, and still provide a receptive drawing surface – you can even use fine wet and dry sandpaper to work back into your drawing, and the surface won’t fur. Thanks to Dean Tercel for the drawing!

300gsm William Turner is our smallest genuine deckle-edge paper: just 330 x 480mm. It’s a soft 100% cotton paper, but unlike many “rag” papers, William Turner has no surface-sizing, so colour is absorbed relatively quickly and utterly gorgeously into the felt-finished surface. This lets you achieve great depth in wet-in-wet watercolour and ink painting, and allows it to be used for relief and intaglio printmaking too.

Here are three very good reasons why we call 300gsm Harmony “the perfect student watercolour paper”.
Firstly, Harmony is a surface-sized paper. While all painting papers are internally sized, controlling the gradual and even absorption of colour, surface-sizing is usually reserved for the expensive pure cotton watercolour papers – and for Harmony. Surface-sizing holds colour closer to the surface, so they’re brighter; and makes the surface more durable, perfect for lifting out, masking, and erasing techniques.
Then there are the surfaces themselves, which mirror the professional watercolour papers by offering Hot Press (smooth), Cold Press (medium), and Rough, letting you choose according to your style, whether the delicate and detail-friendly Hot Press, the textured variation of Rough, or the popular and versatile Cold Press.
Thirdly, have you seen the price?! You pay less for a 300gsm surface-sized, acid-free, archival, 500 x 650mm, watercolour sheet that’s Made in Germany, and available in three surfaces, than a take-out flat white. Best student watercolour paper ever!

Once you want both surface-sizing and the unique feel and strength of pure cotton, you can’t go past Hahnemühle Professional, from the Collection range. This premium paper is made from selected cotton fibres and a special sizing that provides ultimate control of wet colour, and maintains brilliance from wet to dry. The surface integrity remains even after applying many layers
of paint, or using masking fluid, masking tape, and erasing. Hahnemühle Professional is available in 300gsm Hot Press and Cold Press, and delux 640gsm Cold Press.

Smooth as porcelain, 250gsm Bristol is renowned as a paper for ink drawing, giving crisp lines for even the finest detail. Ink is absorbed quickly for fast-drying lines. The texture-free surface is perfect for delicate pencil work, yet Hahnemühle Bristol is tough enough for rigorous work too. Coloured pencil can be layered, and blended into smooth areas without buckling the paper. It’s also suitable for silk-screen, relief prints, gouache and unique watercolour effects.


Equally suited to acrylics, the 230gsm Oil & Acrylic Paper provides a unique surface for oilpainting. While oilpainting surfaces are usually primed and relatively non-absorbent, Oil & Acrylic Paper is unprimed so gives you a true paper absorbency, and a special additive prevents oil causing a halo effect. This allows for easy blending and quick layering, perfect for alla prima sketches, painting outdoors en plein-air, as well as finished works. The surface has a fine linen texture that provides excellent results for students and professionals.

The Natural Line is a range that shows Hahnemühle’s innovative development of alternative materials for papermaking. Faster growing fibres like Hemp, Agave, and Bamboo are blended with cotton for extra strength to create excellent mixed-media papers.
Due to its unique surface, 265gsm Bamboo is a natural white artist paper very well suited for many different drawing and painting techniques. The colour flows beautifully, with high contrasts and excellent colour intensity. Bamboo is particularly well suited for watercolour, acrylic and pastel painting, as well as sketching; and its absorbent quality makes it thirsty enough for printmaking techniques too.

Our most popular paper is 300gsm Britannia, due to its ability to suit so many different techniques, while being very affordable. While available in Hot Press, Matte and Rough, it is the Matte surface that is most used by a wide range of visual artists. It can be used for gouache and watercolour, acrylic, as a printmaking paper, for drawing in dry and wet media. Britannia is perfect to prime for acrylic and oilpainting too. After applying gesso, the paper naturally curves while wet, yet soon flattens back out, making for a great, cheap surface for painted studies and sketches, even finished works.
And of course, paper is not just versatile, it even gives you a second chance: if your artwork hasn’t succeeded, simply turn the sheet over and you’ve got a fresh surface to start on!