With all these different sizes of drawing paper, it gets overwhelming. I’ve been drawing for years and I want to tell you how to pick the right size drawing paper for you.
To choose the right size drawing paper you need to take into account how big you like to draw, if you value practicality over price, and if you have the money to buy in bulk. These factors help you decide the right size paper.
Unfortunately, there is no ”one size fits all” when it comes to paper. Or is there?
What is the standard size drawing paper?
The standard size drawing paper is usually A4 and A5. An A4 size paper is 29,7 x 21 cm or 8.3 x 11.7 inches. An A5-sized drawing paper is half that of an A4: 14.8 x 21cm or 5.8 x 8.3 inches. These sizes are the most common ones used for drawing.
However, there are lots of other sizes available that a lot of people use.
The classic A-something sheets, that have an aspect ratio of 1:1.41, landscape sketchbooks, and portrait sketchbooks. There are also square ones and lesser common round mixed media paper.
If you like the look of the brown square sketchbook you can check out this review I wrote: Hahnemuhle toned tan sketchbook review.
Choosing the right size drawing paper for you
As mentioned before, you should choose your paper having 3 factors in mind:
- Do you mind cutting paper yourself or do you need ready-made sheets to save time?
- How big do you like to draw?
- If you tend to draw small you might want to stay away from A4 and bigger
- Does your budget allow you to buy in bulk?
- Frame availability
- Do you want to sell your artwork?
The tip I always give people is to buy big sheets. Opt for A3 size so you can cut the paper yourself. Not only give this more freedom, but it will also cost you less than if you were to buy ready-cut sheets.
The downside, of course, is that you need to cut everything yourself. This is both time-consuming and might be annoying to you. It is to me, but in the end, I’m always glad I did it.
Buying larger-sized paper is in a way more expensive because you have to pay a lot of money at once but in the end, it is cheaper than buying smaller. So if your budget won’t allow you to buy in bulk, it’s better to buy small.
If you want to sell your artwork you need to think about the customers/collectors. Do they want to frame your work? Probably! That’s why it’s best to not stray from standard sizes.
Of course, you can offer to customize framing but this means that the customer has to pay more. Something to think about.
Common paper formats
The most common paper formats when it comes to drawing paper are:
- Sketchbooks ranging typically from a6-a4
- These sketchbooks come in ring-bound, glued, and sometimes even glued to 4 sides (I highly recommend 4 sides glued for watercolor paper!)
- Single sheets ranging from a4-a2
- Pads ranging from a5-a0
All of this is purely preference. Personally, I prefer A3 sized paper. I then cut them myself using a handy paper guillotine.
The one I linked in particular is great. I also tried one you have to slice yourself but it’s just too much of a hassle. That’s why I recommend this one.
If you don’t want to spend money on that you can always draw a line with a ruler and then cut it with scissors. If this is too much then you’re better off if you choose for single sheets or a sketchbook.
Drawing paper size A0 A1 A2 A3 A4 in cm and inches
Here’s a guide of how many cm and inches all these A-something sizes are:
|Paper||Size in CM||Size in Inches|
|A6||10.5 x 14.8||4.1 x 5.8|
|A5||14.8 x 21||5.8 x 8.3|
|A4||21 x 29.7||8.3 x 11.7|
|A3||29.7 x 42||11.7 x 16.5|
|A2||42 x 59.5||16.5 x 23.4|
|A1||59.5 x 84.1||23.4 x 33.1|
|A0||84.1 x 118.9||33.1 x 46.8|
The sizes a3 to a6 are the most common ones.
Largest size drawing paper
The largest size drawing paper is usually A0 size. You can go even bigger though. There are rolls of paper available that you can customize to your liking. These rolls come in different sizes for example 91.44cm x 457.2cm (36 inch x 5 yard ). This is bigger than an A0 sheet.
Of course, these rolls of paper may be different in size. It depends on the brand.
Trustworthy paper brands that offer these kinds of rolls are:
The benefits of drawing on A3 paper size
Drawing on A3 paper is a very common thing among artists. This paper size, which is 11.7 x 16.5 inches (297 x 420 mm) is great for intricate details.
What a lot of people tend to forget is that when they want to sell their art, most customers want to frame the art. A3 fits into standard frames easily, making it convenient to sell.
It is also a size that appeals to many art collectors. This ultimately enhances the marketability of your creations. I bet you haven’t thought of that before!
Also, working on a3 allows you to add way more detail than if you were to work on a4. Portraits for example can have more detail. If you are really into drawing every single texture and pore of skin, for example, I would even recommend going a size up: A2.
However a3, because of its size is manageable in a studio or at-home work environment because it’s not too big. A2 would be a tad harder to move around.
However, it’s essential to remember that the “best” paper size ultimately depends on individual preferences, artistic goals, and the specific requirements of your project.
Experimenting with various paper sizes can help you discover the one that aligns best with your artistic aspirations :)
Paper brands I use and recommend
I’ve gone through lots of paper brands and here are some that I use:
- Canson Bristol paper A3 size
- Hahnemuhle toned watercolor sketchbook
- Strathmore toned sketch paper pad
This is how you choose your best size drawing paper
To sum everything up mentioned in this article:
- Do I draw small or big?
- Small > Stay away from A4 and bigger
- Big > Stay away from A5 and smaller
- Does your budget allow you to buy in bulk?
- Yes > Consider buying a roll of paper you can cut yourself
- No > Go for sketchbooks, pads, or single sheets
- Do I value practicality?
- Yes > Buy ready-cut sheets or a sketchbook or pad
- No > Buy 1-2 sizes up from what you normally draw in and cut it yourself
- Do I want to sell my art?
- Yes > Stick to single sheets in standard sizes
- No > Get creative and size your paper however you like
What’s your preferred size drawing paper? Let me know in the comments below. Feel free to sign up for my art letter to receive articles like these straight to your mailbox.
See you next week!