Review: Hahnemühle Leonardo Watercolor Block Cold Pressed 280 lb

Watercolor Painting & Sketching Group, Community, and Blog Forums Art Supply Reviews Review: Hahnemühle Leonardo Watercolor Block Cold Pressed 280 lb

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  • For my full review (and giveaway ending 11/05/17), please visit my Life Imitates Doodles blog.  A big thank you to Hahnemühle for their generosity!

    No. of Sheets-10
    Size-24 x 32 cm/9.4 x 12.6 in
    Bound-Glue & Webbing to ensure flatness when wet
    Color-Natural White
    Weight-600 gsm/280 lb.
    Type-Matt/Cold-pressed/Grain Fin
    Content-100% Cotton Rag
    acid free
    age resistant

    Look & Feel
    Hahnemühle Watercolour Blocks are both glued and gauzed on all four sides with one unbound corner (see photo).  I had already removed a couple of sheets before I took this photo, so you can see that the gauze may need to be trimmed around the sides as you go. It isn’t difficult to do, but if you are like me, you need to remind yourself.

    You can see from the photo how thick this 600 gsm/280 lb. paper is, and the thick cardboard backing.  The front cover, which is somewhat like magazine stock, folds back so that it is completely out of the way.

    Off the block, the paper is stiff, as you might expect with of this weight. The surface is not too hard, not too soft.  Surprisingly, the texture was easy to photograph. Though it looks pretty rough, it isn’t. The texture does show in your paintings.  That will please some and not others.


    I taped off a sheet into four quarters.  I did an exercise where you pick a word from a jar and then try to paint something that describes it.  The left is ‘Transparent’ and the right, ‘Aggression’.   The paint flowed well, but not explosively.  I found it easy to control whether I had soft or hard edges.  Dry brushing is very effective on this paper.

    The texture makes it difficult to lift all the way to white, once the paint is dry.  You get white on top, but it is difficult to get into the nooks and crannies.  I did it on the last example, but for Transparent, I used this to get a stippled, shining effect

    Given my experience with the Hahnemühle Turner and Cézanne papers, I was expecting explosive granulation, but was surprised.  There is definitely granulation but it is a much softer effect.   Lifting color while the paint is still wet works very well (always dependent on how staining the color is).  I used both a Fude-style plastic nibbed pen and a nylon-fiber tipped pen with no damage to either nib, and was able to get reasonably solid lines.

    I wanted to make sure that the softer granulation wasn’t just my technique or choice of colors, so I had another try.This time I also tested with masking fluid, using it to reserve the white of the Zebra (a good brand of masking fluid) and splattered more along the ground (cheapo masking fluid).   I overworked this piece in places (mostly at the top) and repainted.  The heavier areas of granulation are actually the result of damaging the paper.  Damage isn’t always a bad thing.  Both the good and cheap masking fluid removed easily and without damage.

    I used a Fude-style pen to outline the Zebra and trees to see if I could pick up any unseen damage, but did not find any.  So then I did a full size painting.  I worked to the point of pilling to get all the way to white for the mist, but the bits came away nicely, and didn’t leave the blobs you often get when you do this.

    The Hahnemühle Leonardo Watercolour Cold Pressed Block has 280 lb mould-made 100% cotton paper with surface-sizing. It’s thick paper, with a medium hard (or medium soft, depending on how you look at it) surface.  Even off the block, the paper is heavy enough to resist curling and buckling.

    The color flows well on the paper giving you a great deal of control over soft and hard edges. It handles masking fluid well. You can see the texture of the paper in your finished painting.

    Color is easy to lift from the wet surface, but once dry the texture means you get a white, stippled effect when you lift color.

    Strangely, given the texture, granulation is good, but softer than it is on the Turner and Cézanne Cold Pressed papers. Whether that is good or bad will depend on your taste.  I like it both ways.

    Thanks Sandra! Good to know. I haven’t tried Leonardo, yet.

    My pleasure.  It’s lovely paper!

    Interesting, I love texture. Just started playing with the Cezanne block I won during WWM, and I love it, so I’d be curious to play with this heavy-hitting paper eventually. I’ll have to check out your blog! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    I just came from adding your name to the list of entries for the giveaway!

    What paper would you recommend for extreme granulation?

    Hahnemühle’s William Turner paper has the best granulation of any paper I’ve used (though I’m sure there are others that do as well).  It can also be challenging because color lifts very easily.  It’s my favorite paper, though.  I’ll be giving away a block of it in a couple of weeks.


    Thanks for this review. I was wondering about the Leonardo.

    You are welcome, Sharon.

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