Choosing Paper And Card For Your Art And Craft Projects
Paper is the base for many art and craft projects, so it's important you choose the right kind to ensure your creative endeavours turn out the way you want them to. To help you select the right paper every time, the team at Spotlight will guide you through each type of paper and card you can find and use from our collection. From colourful construction paper to elegantly textured cardstock, let's dive into the wonderful world of paper together!
- Paper Sizes And Dimensions
- Writing And Printing Paper
- Construction Paper
- Artist's Paper
- Specialty Paper
Paper Sizes And Dimensions
Paper and card will vary in size and weight depending on how they are made and what their intended uses are. It's a good idea to know what you're looking for in these areas when you're stocking up to ensure you have the right dimensions for your project!
The most common paper size you'll see is called A4 - it's the paper that comes out of your printer and the size your regular school and office writing books will be in. Paper sizes range from A1 to A6, with A1 being the largest (often used for posters) and A6 being small enough to use as a pocket notepad. As the paper numbers go down, the size decreases by half! You may also see B-sized papers around (they tend to be a bit bigger), but they are far less common than their A-sized counterparts.
When it comes to envelope sizes, DL stands for 'dimension lengthwise' and the C indicates a mean number between the A and B paper sizes - for example, the metric mean of an A4 and B4 paper will give you a C4 envelope. Make sure you have a good range of envelope sizes around if you plan on using many different sizes of paper to send letters!
Dimensions paper sizes
Paper size (mm)
594 x 841mm
420 x 594mm
297 x 420mm
210 x 297mm
148 x 210mm
105 x 148mm
Dimensions of envelope sizes
Envelope size (mm)
110mm X 220mm
120mm X 235mm
114mm X 162mm
162mm X 229mm
229mm X 324mm
324mm X 458mm
176mm x 125mm
250mm x 176mm
353 mm X 250mm
Paper weights - what is paper GSM?
The weight of a paper is measured in grams per square metre (GSM), with a higher GSM indicating a thicker and heavier paper. Lighter paper is usually cheaper, as less material is needed to make it.
- A newspaper will generally be between 35 and 55gsm. Because newspapers are printed in bulk and contain many sheets, the thinner the paper the less expensive it is for news companies to make.
- Most printer paper is between 80 and 90gsm, making it thin, light and flexible, which is what you need for paper that is travelling through a printer.
- Poster paper will be between 130 to 250gsm. Poster paper is strong but still flexible and will keep a straight shape when hung from the top corners.
- High-quality magazines and brochures will be made from paper that is 260 to 300gsm. This gives it strength and durability while still being able to bend.
- 350 to 450gsm paper is used for paper that shouldn't be bent, like business cards and wedding or special birthday invitations. It can stand up under its own weight and is very rigid.
Writing And Printing Paper
The paper we use for writing on or printing with is the kind we will use the most in our lives! We take notes, sketch ideas, jot down reminders and print important documents and projects on this kind of paper.
This silky paper is ideal for use with pens, pencils and markers, as the smooth surface won't damage your writing tools and your letters will glide across the page. Because of this, inks may take a while to settle and dry so be careful not to smudge your linework when using water-based products.
Have a writing paper pad you want to personalise? Check out our colourful Washi tape project and let it inspire your decorating!
Brightly coloured and roughly textured, construction paper is a must-have for kids who love to draw, colour and craft! It holds up to drawing with pencils, markers and crayons and is also strong enough for creating papercraft projects like paper chains, origami and chatterboxes.
Construction paper is generally sold in large, inexpensive paper pads. It's an easy and useful kind of paper to stock up on, both for practising with and for creating serious projects. Make sure you have plenty of kids' art supplies (like acrylic and poster paints, paintbrushes and sponges) and craft supplies (craft scissors, stamps and glues) to use with your construction paper.
Try making our adventurous treasure map project with some white or cream construction paper!
Artist's paper is designed to help the artist create all kinds of art while keeping their colours (whether it's ink or paint) intact and in place. While you can buy artisan artist's paper by the sheet, it's much more economical to buy a pad full of quality paper, and you can find many such pads at Spotlight.
Here are some things to look out for when buying artist's paper:
- Is it archival quality? If so, then the art created on the paper will survive the test of time. Archival paper won't yellow or become brittle over time, but artwork created with it should still not be displayed in direct sunlight without some other form of protection, like UV-proof glass.
- Is it smooth, rough or somewhere in between? Artist's paper can have all kinds of textures to suit the medium you are working with. Use rough paper for when you need your paints (like fluid watercolours or acrylics) to be kept in place. Or use smooth, synthetic paper for ink art that you can tilt and manipulate! Be aware that very rough artist's paper can damage the delicate tip of some markers.
- Do dry mediums, like pastels, rub off when touched? You may need to choose a grippier paper, like watercolour paper, for the job.
- Does the paint or ink sink into the paper and spread, or stay on the top? If you don't want paper that causes your mediums to bleed, look for water-resistant paper. This could be paper with a coating over the top, or synthetic paper made from plastic.
Try using some quality watercolour paper to create this Reeves Coastal Painting project!
Sturdy and solid, posterboard is great for creating any projects with a display requirement, It's commonly used for creating display boards and project posters, as it can stand while still having things glued onto it and pinned into it. You can use posterboard as a backing for poster paper if your poster paper needs a bit of strength behind it.
Posterboard comes in a great range of sizes so you can always find the perfect posterboard for your next project!
What size is poster paper? Posters generally come in the A1 size (59 x 84cm), but larger posters hung outdoors or on walls can also be sizes B2 (50 x 70cm), B1 (70 x 100cm) and even A0 (84 x 119cm).
What is cardstock, and why is it so popular? Cardstock paper is thicker than regular craft paper but thinner than cardboard - it's great for use as scrapbooking paper, in card-making, for paper embossing and can even be popped through certain printers, which makes it amazing for creating beautiful invites on too!
Cardstock paper can come in smooth or textured finishes, so keep this in mind if you plan to draw or write on your cardstock. Make sure to check out our card-making supplies for envelopes, embossing tools (like our beautiful embossing folders) and decorative tapes if you plan on using cardstock for this purpose. And if you're wondering 'What is an embossing folder?' think of it like a flower press or stamp for your cardstock! The paper is pressed between the two sides of the embossing folder and, with the help of an embossing tool, will create a 3D imprint of the pattern in your cardstock.
What is vellum paper, and does it come under the cardstock paper umbrella? Vellum paper was traditionally made from animal skin and membrane, and was known for being a very high-quality, parchment-like paper. Modern vellum paper is made from a synthetic plant material that gives you the same finish and feel, and is ideal for tracing, drawing blueprints or creating semi-transparent cut-outs and shapes in scrapbooking and card-making.
Its strength also makes cardstock paper ideal as scrapbooking paper as it can hold many different glues and accessories without buckling or tearing. If you plan to use cardstock paper for scrapbooking, make sure to also grab an empty scrapbook, some embellishments, die cuts for card making and fun additions like lace, gems, feathers and glitter to help bedazzle your cardstock!
If you want to create precise shapes and letters with cardstock paper, consider using a cutting machine to do the hard work for you. These amazing craft machines allow you to input a design and it will cut it out on the cardstock for you, giving you precise and professional-looking shapes every time. Use a cutting machine to make this beautiful stencilled card project, and check out the rest of our card projects for even more card-making ideas!
For paper that makes an impact, look to our range of specialty papers! These amazing papers have special finishes that make them stand out from the crowd, such as a velvety flocked surface, pearlescent and glitter paper, pre-embossed paper with a 3D look and even rice paper for creating delicate, layered papercraft projects.
Specialty papers often come in square shapes in easy-to-tear-out paper packs. They can be used for making invitations and announcement cards, as scrapbooking paper, poster accents and 3D craft projects. Try creating this beautiful paper wreath project using special metallic or glitter paper!
Writing and printing paper, cardstock
Note-taking and writing
Writing and printing paper, construction paper
Cardstock, specialty paper
Cardstock, specialty paper
Construction paper, cardstock, posterboard
Cardstock, specialty paper
Sketching and drawing
Artist's paper, construction paper
Artist's watercolour paper
Find The Perfect Art And Craft Paper At Spotlight
No matter what kind of paper you need, you can find it in a range of sizes and colours at Spotlight! Shop online, pay your way and we'll deliver your art and craft paper straight to your front door. Alternatively, visit your nearest Spotlight store and our friendly team will help you find the perfect craft paper for your needs.
For more information on what you'll need to purchase for your papercraft, read our other buying guides on cutting machines, scrapbooking and glues and tapes. And if you need some creative inspiration on what to do with your art and craft paper, check out our blogs on how to master drawing with markers, how to use watercolour pencils and your guide to soft pastels.