Bristol paper for coloured pencils

Hello all,

I’m doing Matts coloured pencil course on Udemy. There he is suggesting to use Bristol paper. I tried canson and strathmore, I had to abandon both projects as after third layer the paper started to look dirty… I completed my projects on watercolour and pastel papers.

What am I doing wrong on Bristol paper?

I’m brand new to all of this:)


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That is a good question. I’m sorry I don’t have an answer.

I had smooth Bristol from winsor newton and while I’m not a fan of this it’s good paper imo but the downside is layering is a bit difficult.

I’m using steathmore 400 bristol vellum for the first time now, and I have the same issue as you. Both the crumbs from erasing and from the pencil application itself stick to the surface, no matter what I do. I thought I had bought a bad patch bc my paper also tore while getting it out of the binding.

Really curious what answers you will get

Hi Tia,
if I remember well Bristol is very smooth surface with little tooth. Wax based (soft sort) coloured pencils like Prismas can work realy well if used in light layers to avoid damaging the tooth. Use of odoreless mineral spirits (OMS) is encouraged after about five layers, where there is enough of pigment on the surface. This helps to create an even cover and preserves tooth for yet another amount of applications over it. For oil based pencils (Faber Castell - Polychromos) as they are rather hard, pastelmat or any sturdier paper is better. Just remember to work light, build your layers patiently. Coloured pencils are considered to be very slow medium, especially if you aim for realism. I hope this makes some sence. Good luck and don’t forget to share your beauties :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Oh yes and use paper under your hand to avoid any smudges



I find it easier to work on the Strathmore 400 series multimedia paper for colored pencils. They also have them in a steel grey, tan, white, and blue to help with value after learning.

When first starting it is difficult to decide on a paper that you like but with practice and trying different papers you will find the one that works best for you.

It is important to remember that Matt’s suggestions are just that, suggestions and he does it that way for newer artist to explore a variety of papers and find what works best.

The same with the colored pencils. We will all have a preferred pencil brand, for me I only use Faber-Castell Polychormo pencils as they are oil-based, and I did not like working with the waxy build-up of wax-based pencils.

I hope this helps you to not get frustrated. and remember it is all a learning process, and there is so much to learn and explore.