Inside: All you need to know for printing on watercolor paper at home with an inkjet printer
My sister couldn’t believe I printed the rainbow fish hanging in my kitchen with a standard inkjet printer. Because the colors were so vibrant and the prints were on watercolor paper, she initially thought they were original paintings.
After she asked lots of questions about how I printed onto the watercolor paper and the exact brand I used, I decided to write a step-by-step guide.
Why Print On Watercolor Paper?
- It’s an affordable way to get high-quality authentic looking prints of artwork by using your home printer. The botanical and art prints on Pictureboxblue look superb when printed on watercolor paper.
- To combine print and paint on the same paper. Print out an outline before adding watercolor paint by hand. For example, print adult coloring pages and then paint them.
- Hand colorization of photos. Print black and white photos onto the paper and then add touches of colour by hand. Like with the Japanese photographs of Kimbei.
- To combine printed text with watercolor paints.
Also, to create the authentic vintage look with the rainbow fish in the kitchen, I was able to tear the thick textured edges of the watercolor paper.
Best Watercolor Paper to Use
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One of the most important things to consider before printing on watercolor paper is the maximum paper weight your printer can handle. Check the manual or online guide and do a test run first.
My inkjet printers recommend a maximum paper weight of 220 g/m2, but I print on 300 g/m2 watercolor paper without any issues.
I tried out three different watercolor papers with my inkjet printer.
- Bockingford Inkjet Double-Sided Watercolor Paper (190 g/m2) – I used this paper to print the rainbow fish. A perfect thickness for the printer with a medium rough texture and works well for combining print with watercolor paints. The off-white paper color, makes printed vintage artwork look more authentic.
- Ecoline Liquid Watercolor (150 g/m2) – Much cheaper than the Bockingford paper, it’s a thin bright white paper with a smooth texture. The prints look better than on standard computer paper, but nowhere near as good as the other watercolor papers. You are recommended to use Ecoline liquid watercolour inks when painting.
- Standard watercolor sketchbook paper (300 g/m2) – The thickest paper with a rough texture. The print quality is good, and it’s the best paper for painting. One advantage is it’s available in many different shades of white. But you might need to trim it to fit your paper feeder. There is a guide on choosing the right watercolor paper for painting here.
How To Get The Best Print Results
Step 1: Use the correct inks, those recommended for your model of inkjet printer. Knock-off inks are cheaper, but the quality won’t be as good when printing in color.
Step 2: Make sure the paper is the right size for the printer. If you’re using a watercolor sketch pad, you may need to cut it to the correct size for the printer’s paper feeder.
Step 3: Add the paper to the empty paper feed tray. If using the heavy 300 g/m2 paper, add the sheets one at a time. Also, check it’s the right way up so that the image prints onto the textured side. The Bockingford paper is double-sided, so this isn’t an issue.
Step 4: Check the printer menu settings. Make sure the paper is the correct orientation, landscape or portrait. Choose the paper type as photo paper and the best quality print options. Let the printer choose the colors and not your software programme. Tick the scale to size box on the menu so that the image fits onto the paper.
Step 5: Press print and start your image printing on watercolor paper. Wait for the printer ink to dry for a few minutes before adding any paint.
I printed the same image of Louis Renards’ fish paintings on the different watercolor papers using my Brother J6930dw inkjet printer. The print quality of all three was excellent, but the Bockingford paper performed the best. Also, the off-white color of this paper looked better with the vintage images.
Photographs printed on watercolor paper will lose a tiny bit of sharpness with the more textured paper. They often print slightly darker too.
If you choose the right watercolor paper when printing vintage illustrations, they might be mistaken for originals!