This new paper has been produced by St Cuthberts Mill in the UK as a replacement for Fabriano 5 Hot Pressed (HP) as it is no longer being produced with a smooth surface.
This new paper is virtually as white as the Fabriano 5 and is 50% cotton. It is designed for botanical paintings and for anyone who wants a very white watercolour paper with a smooth surface.
(Please note that this paper is smaller than Imperial size which is 22" x 30")
The packs can be supplied in a pack or 5 full size sheets or they can be cut in half or quarter.
We do not recommend using masking tape on Botanical Ultra Smooth as it seemed to slightly damage the surface of the paper when removed.
This is very smooth paper so I was delighted to see its release and thought it would be what I needed for botanical work. The clue is in the name.
I've tried it with coloured pencils and watercolour. It will take some layering of pencil with a light touch and get beautiful delicate details but it seems impossible to get to the 'oil slick' stage with polychromos pencils and similar that I usually employ. This was not the tooth filling which I expected to happen, but the surface of the paper just came away.
No matter, I thought, my primary need was for watercolour painting which is what this was designed for. Sadly not to be. Even glazing a light or colourless wash using a bead - brush not even touching the paper is enough to get a pilling effect.
Even putting low tak masking tape on for a brief time with the lightest of pressure lifted the surface.
I will persist for a little longer because I want to like this so badly but first impressions are that the surface is just too fragile. Looking like a return to the far more robust but increasingly less smooth HP Fabriano Artistico. An unfair comparison given the different prices and that this one is not 100% cotton, but disappointed all the same. Deborah Walton (Cambridge, United Kingdom) on 1 May 2016
I found that the paper seems to absorb too much water, which makes it hard to control in order to obtain a crisp line. Cynthia Silver (Vieussan, France) on 22 May 2016
My favoured style of painting is pen and wash for which I always use Hot Pressed paper and over the years have tried most of the popular brands - Arches, Saunders Waterford, Fabriano Artistico and Bockingford. I finally settled on Bockingford as being the best because I could see no advantage in using the more expensive papers. With the advent of Botanical Ultra Smooth I thought I would give it a try and having done a handful of sketches have been very pleased with the results. It is advertised as a replacement for Fabriano 5, but not having used that paper I cannot make a direct comparison. However, for my pen and wash it is a beautiful surface which takes both the ink and the watercolour extremely well. It is marginally whiter than Bockingford (at least to my eye) but I do not know how it compares to Fabriano 5. My first impressions of this paper are that, for my purposes, there is very little to choose between it and Bockingford. One thing I have found though is that it is more difficult to lift paint from the Botanical than it is from Bockingford. Painters of flowers etc may come to very different conclusions to mine, and although I will continue to use the Botanical I will not be abandoning Bockingford altogether - at least not for the present. One final point: another thing that I find slightly off-putting is the fact that Botanical is not produced in the standard Imperial size. Is there a technical reason for this or is it just that the manufacturers are wanting to produce something as near as possible to Fabriano 5? Donald Burgess (Shrewsbury, United Kingdom) on 3 May 2016