Hahnemühle sent me the following papers:
Hahnemühle Cezanne (hot-pressed), the heavy Hahnemühle Leonardo (hot-pressed), and a „Federzeichenblock“ (which means pen and ink drawing pad). All of these three come in a natural white and they are hot-pressed, which means they’re as smooth as you can get for watercolor papers.
I tested them all with similar techniques to be able to compare the results:
- writing with black drawing ink/Nikko G
- writing with walnut ink/Brause EF66
- writing with thinned watercolors/Brause EF66
- painting detailed watercolor blossoms
- painting a small and a big watercolor wash
Two of the three papers (Cezanne & Leonardo) come in pads that are glued together, which is great if you work exclusively in watercolor because the water can’t make ripple in the paper, but for calligraphy you need single sheets anyway if you want to use a lightbox underneath. You’ll have to loosen the sheets very very carefully, because they’re glued together quite strongly. I used a ruler (no sharp edges) and then my fingers for this to keep the edges intact.
This 300 gsm (140lbs) natural white paper feels slightly rough when the nib goes over the surface (it feels perfectly smooth to the touch of a finger!), even though it’s hot-pressed – Cezanne is made of 100% cotton rag. But the nib doesn’t skip or splatter, it’s just a small resistance the nib encounters.
Writing quality with all three combinations is very good and smooth, you can write very fine lines.
The detailed blossom painting worked really well, and making a wash worked well too, you can see the fine structure of the paper through the pigment.
The paper rippled a little bit, which is to expect when you use a lot of water – which I did with the last wash.
Federzeichenblock – pen and ink drawing pad
This is a natural white paper predominantly for ink drawings, it has 250 gsm (120 lbs), and I wanted to find out how it would hold up when treated with watercolor. This paper has the most yellow paper color of all three, and I would describe it as a noticeable yellow tint that I don’t enjoy on first view.
But it’s a very smooth paper, great to write on with a nib in all combinations, I didn’t encounter any problems or resistance.
When painting on it with a lot of paint or water you can notice the paper gets very wavy and the pigment pools in those little ripples, which doesn’t make washes easy to pull off. I’d recommend taping this paper down to the table to prevent the rippling effect.
The detailed blossoms worked out nicely on this paper, too, although there isn’t the distinguished ethereal watercolor look to them.
This is the heaviest paper of all three at 600 gsm (280 lbs), and the paper feels very nice and „expensive“ if you can say that. It has a very soft surface, almost like fabric (it’s made of 100% cotton rag), and both the Nikko G and the Brause EF66 don’t have any problems writing on it, although I had to be a bit careful when writing with watercolors: these tend to make the nib a bit rigid and my nib skipped a few times when I didn’t pay attention. Also the nib was a bit harder to start (but that’s often the case for a EF66 anyway). All in all a great paper to write on if you pay attention. I’d assume a soft big nib like the Brause Steno writes even better on it.
The Leonardo stays in place even when you apply a lot of water due to its weight, and it shows a beautiful structure when you apply pigments – not as fine as the Cezanne.
The detailed painting turned out really nice too.
Due to the weight of this paper it was a bit hard to see my guide underneath, but still possible.
All in all, I can recommend every single one of these papers for stand-alone calligraphy and even for combining calligraphy with watercolor. The pen pad was the paper that performed worst of all three when it comes to washes where a lot of water is used, but I have to say the results are still better than with some other papers I have tried. Still remember, this is paper that it usually not used for watercolor paintings and it has its strengths when used with nib and ink.
The Cezanne and Leonardo are artist grade watercolor papers, and you can see and feel that while using them. You can achieve lovely results on both, and depending on your project I’d recommend both for finished pieces. The fact that you can still see through the thick Leonardo paper with a lightbox is a definite pro! I liked writing with a steel nib just a little bit better on the Leonardo, although you will have to concentrate when using watercolor for writing.
All in all, three great papers to write on and a huge thank you to Hahnemühle for making it possible to test these!
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