YUPO® Paper Pads Regular, Translucent, and Rounds

REVIEW: YUPO® Synthetic Paper Pads

When you open a YUPO Synthetic Paper Pad, it looks like paper inside. But the minute you touch it, you can feel it’s not. When you try to paint on it, you’ll really know it’s not.

It’s widely referred to as paper, though, so I’ll call it that in this review, but I’ll show you some of the differences. I’ll be focusing on watercolor, though YUPO can be used with many mediums.

Legion Paper’s description is ‘YUPO is a space age material made in a space age paper mill’.

The paper is slippery and watercolor slides around. Colors appear different, and most mediums can be totally wiped away unless fixative is used. Yet, YUPO has been around since the late 90’s. Why?

Because it’s fun, and you can get results that you can’t get on any other surface. You can create without worrying about mistakes, because they are easily wiped away, or covered over. But you can also keep the art you like by simply keeping it dry, or fixing it with a sealant.

Yupo Paper regular and translucent


YUPO is made from 100% Polypropylene.  It’s recyclable, acid-free, has a neutral pH, and is archival. It is durable, waterproof, stain resistant, and resists buckling. It’s made in the USA.

You can cut it easily, but it won’t tear.

It can be used with a variety of mediums, including:

  • Watercolor
  • Acrylic
  • Alcohol Inks
  • Markers
  • Monotype
  • Debossing
  • Offset
  • Oil Pastel
  • Pencil/Graphite
  • Silkscreen

YUPO is available in three weights:

  • Medium – 104 lb. (153 gsm)
  • Heavy – 144 lb. (390 gsm)
  • Light – 74 lb (200 gsm)

And two colors:

  • Translucent – light & medium weights
  • White – light, medium & heavy weights
Much is made about the fact that you can wipe YUPO completely clean, getting back to the white, even months after painting. This is definitely true for watercolor.  Some mediums will stain and can’t be removed completely. Isopropyl alcohol may work to remove some of these. A few mediums can’t be completely removed.
Example Painting of hand on YUPO paper

With watercolor, you can easily get back to the white of the paper and repaint, and you can do this almost indefinitely.

For the painting above, I removed areas of color, and repainted five times before quitting.

The oils from your fingers will stick to YUPO, and cause watercolor to bead up. I thought I’d be tricky and trace my hand deliberately leaving oils, maybe even fingerprints. Of course, this was the one time the paper did not pick up a single bit of oil! Ah well, it was a fun painting anyway.

The white papers are bright white, and opaque. The hand painting above was done on the medium white.

The translucent paper is slightly see through, which gives it a grayish cast.

You can paint or draw on one side and see it on the other, though faintly. In the example above, I painted a light green, with splotches of pink on the back.

On the front, I painted the rosebud. 

Having the background on the back gives it a soft, hazy look.

Since this paper isn’t fully transparent, the lighting makes a difference. If the painting is sitting on something dark like a wood table, you might not see the other side at all.

YUPO in Rounds

YUPO Rounds paper pads painting exampleBesides the usual rectangle and square pads, YUPO is available in two sizes of round medium white. Fun!

I used water-based markers for this work. As expected the ink stayed wet for quite a while, which meant smudging if I touched it. The color went down smoothly and it’s pretty, but it took care and patience to use.

Once dried, I covered one half of the page, and sprayed the other with fixative. Then I tried cleaning the color off, using both water and isopropyl alcohol. As you can see, there was a faint stain of color left.

You would be wise to test your medium to see if it will wipe entirely clean before using it on a project you intend to wipe clean. So far, I’ve always been able to wipe watercolor and gouache away completely (see more about that later).


When using YUPO and watercolor, I always feel a bit like I’m working in a sand garden. I can create, then wipe it clean for the next session. There’s something freeing and meditative about it.

But, I do have the option to fix the work with varnish, and keep what I’ve done, if I really like it.

However, you can spend quite some time trying to figure out HOW to use it. That can be frustrating. I certainly won’t claim to have it all figured out, but here are some of the techniques that work for me.

*Note: My soft brush is squirrel-bristle type (which can be synthetic), and my stiffer brush is a medium stiff golden taklon brush.

Koi Fish Watercolor Painting on YUPO Paper

Hydroplanning — this is just wet-into-wet, but on YUPO, it means you’re moving the paint in the water instead of directly on the paper surface. The drying time is different from traditional fiber paper. Paint doesn’t soak into the surface, so it has to evaporate and this takes longer.

I get the most solid coverage this way.

  • With a soft brush, add clean water to areas you want to paint. Be generous with the water.
  • Use a soft, wet brush to lightly (stress on lightly) push the wet paint around, or just tilt the paper and let the paint run. 
    • In my Koi painting, I tilted a little and pushed a lot. 
      • Stop doing this once the paint starts to dry, or you’ll lift color.
  •  If you want to add more color, wait for the paint to dry a little so it doesn’t totally blend together. 
  •  Limit how many colors you add, or you may get mud when they all pool together.

Dabbing — Done with a thicker mix, like heavy cream, and a medium stiff brush.

  • For solid coverage, dab lightly, up and down, overlapping the dabs.
  • To create brush marks by lifting some of the paint, use more pressure, and slide the paint around gently. Very gently, just a little bit at a time.

Once my wet-into-wet had dried, I added the koi by removing paint where I wanted to add them, then dabbing them in.

Lifting/Partial lifting — Obviously, it’s been established that it’s easy to lift color on YUPO. You can make some fabulous marks this way.

  • To remove color completely, dab the area with a soft, damp brush, then dab gently with a paper towel or rag. Repeat if necessary to get to the white of the paper.
  • Long sweeps of a damp soft brush will lift long streaks, pushing color to the sides, to imply motion or froth. 
  • A damp, stiff brush can be used to make small white or lighter lines. A soft damp brush can be used to lighten larger areas by gently placing it down and lifting it away immediately.

Most of the motion in my painting came from moving the wet-into-wet paint. But I added the white, frothy streaks around the koi heads with long sweeps of a damp stiff brush.

I also played around with the coloring of the koi, dabbing to apply paint, and lifting with soft brush, then repainting where desired.

My Kitties above were done on the heavy white paper, but I found all three weights worked the same for watercolor.

Blotting — Lifting just enough color to create a mottled look. I used this method to create the background of my the Kitties painting

  • Blot at the damp or dry paint with a paper towel, sponge, or rag. If the paint is too wet, you’ll remove too much color, so test before blotting in too many places.

If you have techniques you’ve used that work well on YUPO, I’d love to hear them!

Can YUPO be sealed?

There is no doubt about it — the ability to completely wipe everything away is wonderful. But when you love what you did, you want to keep it.

You can just be careful with the painting, and make sure it doesn’t get wet. I have YUPO paintings that I did years ago, left unsealed, and they are still fine. However, to be sure of that, you might want to seal your work.

YUPO can be sealed using non-yellowing acrylic varnishes such as Lascaux Fixative or Krylon Crystal Clear.

I had some Krylon Crystal Clear on hand, so I used it to test my marker painting (as mentioned above) and also on this watercolor painting that I didn’t particularly like.

Somehow I managed to delete my ‘Before’ jpg, sorry. This was a dragon, but I let my colors blend too much, and they got muddy. I let it dry for a day, and then did the test.

I placed a piece of paper over half of the painting. Over three days, I did three sprayings. I don’t think you’d have to wait that long in between, but wanted to be certain the fixative dried completely. Extra caution with drying never goes amiss.

Then I used a damp cloth over the entire painting, scrubbing and thoroughly wetting it all.

The non-sprayed half wiped clean, and the sprayed half didn’t budge.

The texture of the sprayed surface did change, becoming slightly gritty to the touch.

Using, the same watercolor that I started with, I painted over both sides completely. Despite, or perhaps because of the texture change, I found I could paint on the sprayed side with no problem, and there were no apparent differences.

This surprised me. I expected the watercolor to bead up on the fixative.

I would caution everyone to test before assuming they’ll be able to paint over sealed areas. It might not work with some fixatives, or with some brands of paint.

Once the painting dried, I took my damp cloth again and wiped an area clean. The new paint wiped clean on both sides, but the original painting on the sprayed side is still intact.

I intend to play with this more. The ability to remove upper layers of paint, while leaving a background layer intact, is awesome!

But What About …

Because YUPO is an entirely different medium than most papers, you may have more questions than I have time or knowledge to answer here. Fortunately, Legion Paper has an excellent FAQ page here,  and you’ll probably find even more answers than you expected.

Why is it called YUPO?

In the 1990s, two Japanese firms — Misubishi Yuko and Oji Paper Company decided to create an alternative to traditional fiber-based papers, and YUPO was the result.

  • YU – the Misubishi Petrochemical Company aka Misubishi Yuko
  • P-Paper,
  • O-Oji Paper Company

YUPO is Available:

Pad Sizes –

  • 2.5 x 3.75 in
  • 5×7 in
  • 9×12 in
  • 11×14 in
  • 7×7 in
  • Round 8” diameter; 12” diameter 74 lb (200 gsm)

YUPO is also available in several sizes of sheets and rolls.



I received one 5×7 inch pad of YUPO Translucent Medium, one 7×7 inch pad of YUPO White Medium, one 9×12 inch pad of YUPO White Heavy and one pad of 8 inch Round White Medium from Legion Paper. I received no other considerations, though this post may contain affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews

13 thoughts on “REVIEW: YUPO® Synthetic Paper Pads

  1. Hello Ms. Sandra,

    Thank you so much for reviewing this product. I’m surprised to know that it’s been around since the 90s! I’d never heard of it and it is very interesting. I loved the rosebud and the koi fish. The water really looks shimmery and ‘watery’🙂 Thanks so much again,

    Have an awesome summer,

    Sparkling Heart
    • sandra-strait
  2. Thank you Sandra. I enjoyed the review. I have created on yupo for years, but largely with alcohol inks. I wondered about sealing and you answered the question. Now you have me thinking about using other mediums.

    Sparkling Heart
    • sandra-strait
  3. Thanks for another wonderful, comprehensive review. I’ve played with Yupo and alcohol inks in the past but was never sure how to seal the color…now I know. Thank you!

    Sparkling Heart
    • sandra-strait
    1. Thank you so much, Mary! With YUPO being around as long as it has, I was hoping I’d be able to share something new with people who’d been using it awhile. I’m glad that it worked!

  4. I’ve seen so many paintings online done on YUPO but never understood what it is. Now I know. I’m struggling enough with regular watercolor papers, think I’ll stick with the challenges I’m familiar with. But it was really interesting to read about this and especially to see your art created on YUPO. Lots of innovation.

    Sparkling Heart
    • sandra-strait
  5. great review, Sandra. I would never have thought to try watercolor on Yupo. awesome dragon I almost got to see 🙂

    Sparkling Heart
    • sandra-strait
  6. Hi Sandra! Yupo paper is so much fun. I use it with alcohol inks and then use my dies to cut out shapes for card making. You can also find it in black, but it’s more difficult to find and work with. I have it in a ‘card stock’ style. Thanks for sharing about this fun product!

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