How to Flatten Watercolor Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide

As a watercolor artist we all know that paper is one of the most important elements of your artwork. However, dealing with wrinkled or curled paper can be frustrating and ruin any painting. In this article, we will show you how to flatten watercolor paper using various methods, including using an iron, wet stretching, and dry mounting.

flatten watercolor paper

Why Does Watercolor Paper Wrinkle or Curl?

Before we dive into the methods of flattening watercolor paper, it’s important to understand why it wrinkles or curls in the first place. Watercolor paper is made from natural texture fibers, which expand when they absorb water, causing the paper to warp. Additionally, some watercolor paper may have a tendency to curl due to the way it’s packaged or stored.

Factors that Affect Watercolor Paper Flatness

There are several factors that can affect the flatness of watercolor paper, including:

  • Humidity: High humidity can cause the paper to absorb moisture and warp.
  • Weight of paper: Heavier paper is less likely to warp than lighter paper.
  • Quality of paper: High-quality paper is less likely to warp or curl than lower-quality paper.
  • Storage: Proper storage can prevent the paper from warping or curling over time.
  • Painting technique: Using a lot of water or paint can cause the paper to warp or curl.

How to Flatten Watercolor Paper: Methods

Using an iron is one of the most common methods of flattening watercolor paper.

Prepare iron

Set your iron to the lowest temperature setting and place your watercolor paper on a flat, heat-resistant surface.

Protect paper

Lay a damp towel or cloth over the paper.

Use hot iron

Gently press the iron over the damp towel, moving it in circular motions. Continue ironing until the paper is flat.

Method 2: Wet Stretching

Wet stretching involves soaking the paper in water and then stretching it to make it flat. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Soak your watercolor paper in water for about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the paper from the water and lay it on a flat, clean surface.
  3. Use tape to secure the paper to the surface, stretching it as you go.
  4. Allow the paper to dry completely before removing the tape.

Method 3: Dry Mounting

Dry mounting involves using a special adhesive to attach the paper to a backing board. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Apply a dry mounting adhesive to the back of your watercolor paper.
  2. Place the paper on a backing board.
  3. Use a dry mounting press to apply heat and pressure to the paper and backing board, adhering them together.
  4. Allow the paper to cool before removing it from the press.

Tips for Preventing Watercolor Paper from Warping or Curling

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips for preventing watercolor paper from warping or curling:

  • Use high-quality watercolor paper.
  • Stretch your paper before painting.
  • Paint in a dry, cool environment.
  • Don’t use too much water or paint.
  • Store your paper flat or in a protective sleeve.
  • Keep your paper away from moisture and humidity.

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