The latest set of products from Hahnemühle is The Collection, Watercolour blocks in two weights and three surfaces, as well as Sketch pads and Ingress Pastel paper. I’m reviewing the watercolour blocks and the sketch pads. I don’t work in pastel so that paper won’t be included here.
- Size: 24 x 32 cm / 9.4 x 12.6 inch
- Paper Weight: 300 gsm / 140 lbs and 640 gsm / 300 lbs
- Paper Properties: 100 % cotton rag, mould-made, surface sized, vegan, resistant to ageing, acid-free
- Binding: Glued
- Available in cold pressed, hot pressed, and rough
I’m reviewing the block pads. The Collection Watercolour paper also comes in sheets and rolls.
- Sizes: A5 / 5.8 x 8.3 inch and A4 / 8.3 x 11.7 inch
- Paper Weight: 140 gsm / 65 lbs
- Paper Properties: Natural White, 100 % cotton rag, mould-made, surface sized, vegan, resistant to ageing, acid-free, exceptionally grainy texture
- Binding: Glued
I’m reviewing two sizes. The Collection sketch pads also come in A2 / 16.53 x 23.39 inch, and A3/ 16.5 x 11.7 inch
Look & Feel
THE COLLECTION BLOCKS
All of The Collection watercolour blocks are 100 % cotton rag, mould-made, surface sized, vegan, resistant to ageing, and acid-free.
According to the website blurb, they are:
“characterised by a very durable paper surface that is well suited for demanding watercolour techniques. The fibres do not lift, rub off or loosen, even when applying multiple layers of colour, or when using masking fluids and tapes. This paper lets you use the most beautiful colours and create remarkable wet-on-wet paintings.”
Holy moly! That sounds like a paper that’s right down my alley. I love seeing how far I can overwork paper before it refuses to perform.
But first, what is a watercolor block?
A watercolor block is simply a pad of watercolor sheets that are glued together on all four sides, except for one small section.
At first glance, you might think that this block has black paper, but that’s just the glue.
If you look closely at the bottom of the block, you’ll see a thicker piece – that’s a heavy cardboard backing, giving you strong support.
The cover of the block is only connected to the cardboard backing. It flips back out of the way while you are painting.
When you first open the cover, you’ll find a thin protection sheet. You can remove it, keep it to help protect your unused sheets, throw it away, or if you are a mixed media artist, it can be reused in other artwork.
So, if the block is glued on all four sides, how do you remove your finished paintings?
Earlier, I mentioned that one small section is left unglued. Take a tool with a thin, smooth edge and insert it between the top sheet and the other sheets.
Then, just continue around the edge of the paper, carefully cutting through the glue.
A word about the tool you use for this. Lots of things will work. Knives, palette knives, even spoon handles and credit cards. Plastic, metal, wood – that isn’t as important as a certain strength and a bit of flexibility.
Don’t use a serrated edge – it should be a smooth edge.
If you don’t like the black glue that is left on the edge of the paper, you can peel it away. I just leave it on. I kind of like it.
THE COLLECTION – PAPER
The Collection Watercolour blocks come in two weights and three surfaces, for a total of six different blocks. The blocks are all 24 x 32 cm / 9.4 x 12.6 inch in size. This paper is available in sheets and rolls as well.
The paper has a soft feel. Given this and the stress on how strong it is, I wasn’t surprised to find it is fairly absorbent. This affects blending, washes, and the ability to get really drippy effects. You can get those effects, but you do need to be careful with your water/paint ratio. It didn’t take me long to adjust, but this may not be your paper if you prefer a high water to paint ratio or want to pour paint.
On the other hand, it produces deep, intense color, and both crisp hard *edges and lovely soft edges.
*edges– a hard edge occurs when there is a definite edge between colors. A soft edge occurs when the colors blend, one color gradually becoming another color. A soft edge becomes a lost and found edge when it’s difficult to tell where one color ends and another begins.
The surfaces are cold pressed, hot pressed and rough. Paper has tooth – wells and higher points woven across the surface. The amount of tooth varies considerable among brands and types of paper. Hot pressed is smooth, rough is … well … rough, and cold pressed is in between. The most common type of watercolor paper is cold pressed. In fact, many stores don’t carry rough or hot pressed, which I think is a shame.
The rough version of The Collection watercolour paper has just a little more tooth than the cold pressed. It’s easier to scumble, leaving color on the higher points and leaving the wells white (as in the flower pot above). If you like paints that granulate, get that sort of pebbly look, this is a great paper for it. The texture of the paper is more likely to show in the finished painting. While definitely a rough surface, it is on the smoother end of rough surfaces.
The cold pressed has an average amount of tooth for cold pressed surfaces. It has a slightly gritty feel to it and you can get the widest range of effects with it.
The hot pressed is very smooth, but still soft to the feel. The color is most intense because there is little tooth and the paint stays right on the surface. It has an average tooth for cold pressed surfaces.
Each surface type is available in a 300 gsm / 140 lbs weight and 640 gsm / 300 lbs. The photo above is a comparison of the rough paper with the 300 lbs on top and the 140 lbs on the bottom.
The heavier weight paper is less likely to buckle or warp, even if you remove it from the block before painting. It might be harder to frame.
The Collection Sketch pad comes in two sizes – A5 / 5.8 x 8.3 inch and A4 / 8.3 x 11.7 inch. Both are 140 gsm / 65 lbs. The paper is a natural white color, vegan, resistant to ageing, and acid-free. The texture of the paper is noticeably grainy.
They are a standard pad format, with glued binding, a sturdy cardboard backing, and a front cover that is only attached to the cardboard. This allows you to flip it back out of the way while you sketch.
In the photo above, you can see the texture of the paper at the upper right. Even though it’s a grainy texture, I didn’t get any bleed, feathering or skipping from the pens, pencils and markers that I used – the exception being the flexible fabric brush marker I used. Since the tip covered a wider area, I wasn’t surprised that it made a fuzzier line.
The paper works well for all dry sketch mediums, and definitely isn’t formulated for wet mediums. That said, it handles watercolor moderately well. That strange yellow/purple with the brown dot above was done in watercolor, and I did some washes of various consistency on other sheets. The paper does buckle, getting waves and dimples, but doesn’t curl much. The paint moves, but not with a great flow. It works better with watercolor pencil or watercolor marker than actual paint.
The only thing that bled through to the back was the alcohol-based marker, which is to be expected. Nothing else even showed through.
As with the watercolour blocks, there is a thin protection sheet at the top. This one doesn’t have the text on it, so if you need any kind of guide, like ruler marks, you could add them to this sheet with a permanent pen, and then keep it with the pad for when you need it.
While hanging on to the bottom edge of one sheet of paper, I bounced the pad up and down to see if it would come loose. It did not. The paper stayed secure and didn’t rip or separate from the glued binding.
However, when I pulled with even pressure at the binding, it was easy to tear off the sheet without ripping it.
The paper feels slightly gritty to the touch, producing a slight sound and feel when you draw on it.
The Collection Watercolour Blocks
As I mentioned before, this is absorbent paper and I did have to pay attention to my water/paint ratio to get the effects I wanted. Once I had that down, I was able to get intense color, soft blending, and crisp edges. Color lifts moderately well, and you can overwork the paper to the nth degree. More about that later.
Masking Fluid and masking tape came off all three surfaces with no tearing. I was able to overpaint the areas with no signs of damage. As might be expected, it was more difficult to get an even application of the masking fluid on the rough surface.
When drawing my preliminary sketch for all of these paintings, I used an eraser with some force. The pencil marks lifted well, and I didn’t notice any appreciable damage when painting in those areas.
Hahnemühle emphasized the strength of the paper, citing a ‘chosen variety of cotton offers extremely strong fibres and incomparable purity’. I decided to really put that to the test.
THE KITCHEN SINK TEST
I did this painting, lifting color, repainting, lifting. I used a high water to paint ratio – to the point where I could pour the paint if I wanted to. You can see how intense the color is. You can also see the areas of the tree, where I scrubbed to remove most of the color. Not content with that, I decided to go a step farther.
I ran the painting under the faucet until the paper was thoroughly soaked.
Then I took a paper towel and SCRUBBED, while running water over it. Once satisfied that I’d punished the paper enough, I blotted it with clean towels and left it to dry.
This is what it looked like, once it dried.
So, then I sat down and painted over the original. I was able to get good crisp edges, softly blended color, and I even scrubbed some more and added more paint. The paper did not pill, get muddy or refuse to take more color.
This is my finished painting. I used the 140 lbs cold pressed surface for this, and after all my abuse, it was a bit more like the rough surface. You can see more texture than the original had, but the color is so clear and it even glows in places.
The paper did warp a little, but it flattened out well when I weighted it down over night.
So bottom line here – If you are someone who tends to fuss, and overwork, this might be the paper for you. You are less likely to create mud (though you can still do that by mixing the wrong colors), and you have a good chance to either save the painting or repurpose it as I did.
Having satisfied myself, that yes, this paper was tough, I went on to do paintings on all six versions.
THE 140 LBS COLD PRESSED
I chose very intense colors for this one. The same that I used in my great sink experiment, so I could see how the color would look without being overworked.
THE 140 LBS HOT PRESSED
This time, I deliberately used less vivid, opaque colors. Hot pressed is traditionally used for botanical studies and is supposed to keep colors brighter. It was easier to get hard edges on all three surfaces, but especially with this hot pressed.
THE 140 LBS ROUGH
This was my favorite surface of the three, though that’s a personal choice. It was easier to get soft edges, and I love dry brushing – painting with an almost dry brush so that the deeper wells remain white.
Note: Dry Brushing and Scumbling mean the same thing, but scumbling is also used when referring to drawing with various media.
THE 300 LBS COLD PRESSED
I used a reference photo from a good friend of mine, for this painting, and I’ll have to repaint it someday, because I did overwork it. I felt I should test to see if the heavier weight paper was as tough as the lighter weight.
I didn’t repeat my kitchen sink test, but I kept scrubbing and repainting until I finally got the paper to pill – little bits of paper coming off the sheet. It took a few hours of overworking to do that. My impression is that while this paper IS tough, the surface is just a little softer, just a bit more absorbent than the 140 lbs. That is common for heavier weight paper, so I may have already been convinced that it would be.
For all intents and purposes, I didn’t notice any difference, other than I could get some pilling. Eventually.
THE 300 LBS HOT PRESSED
With 140 lbs Hot Pressed, I concentrated on hard edges. With this 300 lbs, I made more effort to get soft and lost and found edges. I switched to a softer brush that holds more water, but had no trouble getting the edges that I wanted.
THE 300 LBS ROUGH
Lol! This was supposed to be an idealized painting of gnarly old trees, but I kept seeing faces and suddenly I was painting Ents. No more Lord of the Rings for me!
Since this was my last painting for the review, I just had fun with it and enjoyed the painting.
The Collection paper suits me and my style very well. I did have to adjust my water/paint ratio from what I use most often. It’s easiest to get hard edges, but also easy enough to get soft or lost and found edges as well. Juicy drippy effects are more difficult, but not impossible.
The Sketch Pad
As I mentioned above, The Collection Sketch pad paper has a grainy texture. I wondered how this would affect the line quality, especially with pen, and whether it would be too rough for fabric-tipped markers.
As I suspected this paper is great for pencil. I’ll admit that I mostly use pencil for drawing preliminary outlines. I’m allergic to pencil lead. I could have continued layering and burnishing this tomato, but I kept sneezing! As it is, you can see the texture here and the wide range of values I was able to achieve.
Since I had some concerns about fabric tips, I did drawings with both plastic and fabric tipped brush pens.
Hopefully, you can see the line more clearly in this close up. I could get bold line with more pressure and a scumbled, textured effect with less pressure. I didn’t get any feathering, bleeding or skipping (except with the scumbling where I wanted it). You don’t get the absolutely crisp line that you would with smooth paper, however.
Both the highlighters and metallic brush pens used in this drawing have fabric tips, though the shape of the point was different-flexible brush, bullet and fine. Color went down evenly, brightly and without feathering, bleeding or skipping. I applied more pressure than I normally would.
Afterwards, I found no evidence of damage to the pen tips. Just as a general caution though, I would expect any paper with a gritty or texture surface to wear down a fabric tip more quickly than smooth paper. That’s just common sense.
Hahnemühle The Collection Sketch pad is standard format with glued binding. The paper has a grainy texture and elegant feel that is good for almost any dry media, allowing layering and burnishing for excellent effects.
Possibly a bit rough for fabric-tipped pens, as any textured surface would be, but I found no damage to mine after using them.
At the same location for 436 years, Hahnemühle has produced traditional artist papers manufactured from old recipes from high-quality cellulose and pure spring water. Noted as a customer-oriented and innovative manufacturing facility, their motto always has been ‘Quality instead of Quantity’.
Hahnemühle holds competitions for artists and photographers, and supports environmental protection projects through their ‘Green Rooster’ initiative, which includes reforestation, animal protection and environmental education programs. Their production site sits next to a nature reserve, giving them even more reason to take great care with their manufacturing process.
Related Reviews on Doodlewash
- Hahnemühle Watercolour Book
- Hahnemühle Grey & Cappuccino Book
- Hahnemühle ZigZag Book
- Hahnemühle 1584 Notebook
- Hahnemühle Toned Watercolour Books
- QoR Mini Half-Pan Set
- Daniel Smith “Ultimate Mixing” Half Pan Set
- Hahnemühle’s new “The Collection” has just arrived in the U.S. and Canada, so my review is a teaser for what is to come. The Collection is now available at Wet Paint Art. Meanwhile, don’t hesitate to ask for them at your favorite art store!
Other Materials Used In Review
- “Ultimate Mixing” Half Pan Set
- Other Daniel Smith Colors Used: Rose of Ultramarine, Undersea Green, Lavender, Piemontite Genuine, Moonglow, Green Apatite Genuinem, Nickel Titanate Yellow, Sedona Genuine, Hematite Burnt Scarlet Genuine, Serpentine Genuine, Tiger’s Eye Genuine
Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff
- American Journey Artists’ Watercolor Colors Used: Coastal Fog, Pat’s Coastal Blue, Coral Red, Apricot, Peachy Keen, Taylor’s Flamingo Pink, Janet’s violet rose, Skip’s Green, Mint Julep, June Bug
- Miller’s Old Faithful Brushes: (White Synthetic One Stroke Flat, Size 1/4, 1/2 and Round, Size 10)
- 3M Highland Masking Tape ½ inch
Disclaimer: I received six The Collection Watercolour blocks and two The Collection Sketch pads from Hahnemühle for the purposes of this review. I received no other considerations, though this post contains affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.