Papers and boards

Types of papers and boards and their uses

Papers and boards are formed from wood pulp, which comes from trees. This squishy wood pulp is rolled out into thin sheets in paper mill factories to form the papers and boards that we use.


Papers are made from wood pulp. Their density is measured by their weight, in grams per square metre (gsm) - the thinner the paper the lower the gsm.

PaperPhysical propertiesWorking properties
Bleed proof paperWhite, can be textured, thinCoated to stop colour seeping, ink stays bright on the surface
Cartridge paperThick, textured, roughExpensive and opaque, used for ink and watercolour
Grid paperWhite paper printed with a variety of grids, eg isometric, graph etcLines are usually blue but can be darker to trace through
Layout paperSmooth finish, off-white colour, translucent (see-through)Takes most media well
Tracing paperTranslucent (see-through), smoothShiny, takes pencil well
A pair of hands shown drawing a stretch of figures with a black pencil on white paper.

Bleed proof paper


Board thickness is measured in microns or grams per square metre (gsm) - the thinner the card the lower the microns or gsm.

BoardPhysical propertiesWorking properties
Corrugated cardPaper bonded to the outsideCorrugations make it strong, protective and insulating; used in packaging
Duplex boardTwo layers of card bonded togetherStiff, lightweight and printable for packaging
Foil-lined boardWhite card with foil backingStiff and oil resistant, foil backing reflects heat, used for food containers
Foam core boardSmooth surface, laminated with white boardThick and rigid, available in a variety of thicknesses, prone to creasing and cracking, used for models and mounting photographs
Inkjet cardBright white and smooth on both sidesDeep colours as the photographic ink sits on the surface
Solid white boardSmooth on both sidesStiff, can be cut or scored
A close-up view of rolled up corrugated card in green and brown.
Corrugated card