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Everything you need to know about giclée papers for watercolours

photo of watercolour giclée print

Everything you need to know about giclée papers for watercolours

There are many giclée papers for watercolours, but we’ll discuss the main points that effect what choice you make. Bear in mind there are no hard and fast rules you need to abide by. Just as you are free to be creative with art, you can be just as creative with the giclée paper you choose. We just thought it would be a good idea to give you more information on giclée papers for watercolours.

What are giclée papers made of?

Giclée papers are made of and go through the same processes as your painting papers. The choice of pulp to create the giclée papers, decides the quality, strength and longevity of the paper.

photo of giclée print on hemp paper

Giclée print on Hahnemühle Hemp paper

Acid-free Wood Pulp

These are often described as a-cellulose (alpha cellulose) papers. They are also described as lignin free, which means the papers resist discolouration and yellowing. They are a good choice of paper, especially if you wish to avoid a cotton paper.

Cotton Rag

These are made from 100% recycled cotton textiles. They have the longest fibres, so they are the stronger and most durable of papers.



Texture and surface of giclée papers for watercolours

There are matte giclée papers that have a similar texture to watercolour NOT paper. There are smooth papers similar to HOT PRESS watercolour paper. Heavy textured papers can lose the fine details of watercolour. There are also gloss and satin giclée papers available too.

photo of watercolour on giclée Somerset paper

Giclée print on St. Cuthberts Mill Somerset Velvet paper

Colour of giclée papers for watercolours

Generally giclée papers vary from a bright white, off-white, to a very creamy Natural white colour. These may seem subtle differences but can impact the colours re-created in the giclée print of your watercolour painting. For example a natural white paper can bring out the warm tones of yellow and orange, while a bright white paper can lose the subtle translucent tones of watercolour.

Also bright white giclée papers will have optical brightening agents (OBAs) added to the pulp, to create whiter brighter paper. Eventually over time these brightening agents breakdown evenly, returning the paper to its natural white colour. Not all bright/ pure white papers have OBAs, some have a lightfast white pigment added, which does not affect the archival quality of the giclée paper, such as Canson Infinity’s new ARCHES range.

Membrane added to giclée papers

Finally all giclée papers are coated in a membrane, this allows the ink to sit on the surface of the paper, rather than being absorbed by the paper. Otherwise the colours could react like blotting paper. Giclée papers are generally only sized on one side.

These are some of the giclée papers for watercolours that we recommend. Though you are always welcome to Get in touch we’re happy to help

Textured Giclée paper for Watercolours
  • Hahnemühle German Etching 310gsm (Matte paper) – Natural White, 100% a-cellulose paper, Low OBAs
  • Hahnemühle Museum Etching 350gsm (Matte paper) – Natural White, 100% Cotton paper, No OBAs
  • Hahnemühle Agave 290gsm (Matte paper) – White, 70% agave fibres, 30% Cotton paper, No OBAs
  • Hahnemühle Hemp 290gsm (Matte paper) – White, 60% hemp fibres, 40% Cotton paper, No OBAs
  • Canson Infinity Arches Aquarelle Rag 310gsm (Matte paper) – White, 100% Cotton paper, No OBAs
  • St Cuthberts Mill Somerset Velvet Enhanced White 33gsm (Natural Woollen Felt Textured paper) – Radiant White paper, 100% Cotton, Low OBAs
Smooth Giclée paper for Watercolours
  • Hahnemühle Bamboo 290gsm (Matte paper) – Natural White, 90% bamboo fibres, 10% Cotton paper, No OBAs
  • Hahnemühle Photo Rag® 308gsm (Matte paper) – White, 100% Cotton paper, very low OBAs
  • Hahnemühle Photo Rag® Bright White 310gsm (Matte paper) – Bright White, 100% Cotton paper, moderate OBAs
Canvas for Watercolours
  • Hahnemühle Daguerre Canvas 400gsm (Matte) – Bright White, Poly-cotton canvas, moderate OBAs

You can learn more about our range of papers and canvases here or Order our Sample Book here

watercolour giclée print

Giclée print on Canson Infinity Arches Aquarelle paper

In Conclusion

As we said earlier there are no hard and fast rules, when it comes to choosing a giclée paper for your watercolours. You just have to consider what will best suit your artwork, such as a smoother or textured paper, with creamy undertones or a purer white tone. Also you have to decide if you prefer a 100% cotton paper or a bamboo or hemp paper. The choice is yours and don’t forget you can always order print proofs (test prints) to see how your watercolours look on different giclée papers. This way you get to touch the papers and a lot of the time it actually comes down to how you like the feel of the paper. Though remember not to touch the print area.

See our blog where we discuss the benefits of print proofs here

If you’d like to order print proofs/ test prints then click here


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