Basic Breakdown

Sheets, Blocks & Pads

Basic Breakdown: Sheets, Blocks and Pads


Watercolour paper is specially made to prevent warping and allow the absorption of colour into its surface. Paper pads typically come in two formats, Pads and Blocks, this Basic Breakdown will highlight the difference between these two formats whilst also looking at single watercolour sheets.

Both pads and blocks are essentially the same thing save for one main difference. Pads have a singular bind, typically either a ring bind or a glue/gum bind along one edge. This allows for sheets to be removed with ease and stretched onto a board. This is especially necessary if the paper is of a lower weight as being used straight into the sketchpad would most likely result in warping. 


Langton Watercolour Pad - RoughBockingford Flat Pad 300gsm
Left Image: Langton Watercolour Pad (Rough) with a gummed bind
Right Image: Bockingford Watercolour Fat Pad (300gsm)


Blocks on the other hand are glued/gummed on all four sides. This glue bind gives the pad its block name as it is a block of watercolour paper. The paper is easier to paint onto straight away as the glue on all edges prevents warping or cockling. To remove sheets from a block pad a craft knife is used to slice around individual pieces, for stretching or display. 

Both pads and blocks are good for beginners and professionals alike and most practising artists will choose based on their tastes. 


Bokcingford Blocks

Bockingford Watercolour Block (Rough)


As an alternative to both Blocks and Pads there are loose sheets of watercolour paper. By comparison to the pads you get far less paper by square inch however depending on the paper chosen it can be a far more economical choice. Loose sheets are an excellent option for any artist wanting to explore multiple work surfaces. The cost of three sheets of varying textures will typically equate to the cost of a standard watercolour pad. Pads are most likely made containing one texture finish, such as a rough or smooth pad. 

Loose sheets give the artist room to experiment with these different textures without the need for having multiple pads of paper. Additionally as the sheets are available as singles they can be used at any size the artist requires. Either used whole as a larger size work surface or cut down into smaller sizes loose sheets are excellent at providing sizes that are unavailable in pads or blocks.


Bockingford Single Sheets

Bockingford Watercolour Single Sheets


Image Credits;

Title and Product Images - Sandra Manchester