In watercolor world, what’s the difference between cold press and hot press watercolor paper? Why, let me show you…
Do you remember the red maple leaf we painted the other day? Well, I painted two of them at the same time using the same steps and the same paints. Here is what they look like:
Cold press watercolor paper (left) has texture. Little bumps and grooves holds in the water and pigment. It really sucks up the water pretty quickly. Cold press is a good choice when you want to convey texture in your subject.
Hot press (right) is super smooth. No texture with this paper. This paper doesn’t suck up the water as fast as the cold press, allowing you to play around more, like re-wetting edges of pigment.
Notice the colors of the two leaves! This is what I discovered when painting them side-by-side, the hot press is more vivid and bright. The cold press is a little more dull…but I used the same paints! Does it have to do with the absorbance of the paper? Maybe? Maybe the pigment gets imbedded in the cold press paper and soaks thoroughly and perhaps the pigment on the hot press dries closer to the surface. Or maybe the tiny groves in the cold press creates an overall shadow to the eye? Hmmm…interesting.
Here is a close up of the upper right section:
Cold Press. Can you see the texture in the paper?
Hot Press. Really smooth.
Buy both papers, don’t limit yourself to just one type…play…have fun! I hope this helps clear up the confusion about cold and hot press watercolor paper.