Toned Paper: Don't Tone it Down!

Toned Paper: Don't Tone it Down!



When we think of fine art paper, what we often think of is soft, white archival quality paper with a hefty price tag. Not all art paper has to be like that! That’s why Bee Paper offers several different, affordable, toned paper options in the Big Bee series and each has a unique quality that sets it apart.

Why Brown/Gray Toned Paper?

When you work with white paper, you only make the paper darker. You leave highlights, but it’s much more difficult to add them. The opposite is true of black paper. Using black paper means you only lighten a piece and add highlights, the shading is already in place for you. Brown and gray paper counteract that! They are considered “neutral tone” papers which means it’s up to YOU, the artist, to add both shading and highlights. Neutral toned paper is also known to make your highlights pop, just take a look at these pieces!


One of the number one benefits of neutral tone paper is the ability to create highly realistic pieces, as you can see in the beautiful pieces above. Consider: what exists in the world that’s naturally pure white? Not much! The neutral toned paper allows you to see art from a more natural perspective.

You may also be curious about the difference between gray and brown paper, it simply comes down to preference and the look you’re personally going for. Our gray paper is lighter than our brown paper, which might be more you style if you're working with a lighter medium. Pro Tip: When getting started with neutral toned paper, consider making a value scale. A value scale will show you where your highlights and shadows balance, as seen below:


Bee Paper has two options for brown paper, the Bogus Recycled Rough Sketch and the Big Black Bee. If gray paper is more your speed, give the Big Purple Bee a try!

Why Black Toned Paper?

We covered why neutral toned paper exists, but what about black? Black paper has no light inherently in the paper, which means the artist is responsible for all the light themselves! The biggest problem people have with black toned paper may be obvious: media. What can you even use on black paper? Plenty of things! While we designed our black paper with white charcoal in mind, there are plenty of other uses as well! Take a look at these pieces from the #beepaper Instagram.


Colored pencil, graphite, gel pens, pastels, chalk, so many wonderful options available to you! The best method to finding the media that works for you and your black paper is to play with it! There are so many different methods and styles that work with black and it makes it a very fun method to explore. Bee Paper has two different options available for black paper: the Big White Bee and the Heavyweight Black Bristol Board. Both papers give you the chance to explore black paper in a way that suits your needs!

Classic white paper is unarguably beautiful, wonderful, and multi-purposed, but it’s fun to step outside the box and try something different. Whether that’s gray, brown, or black, we’re excited to see what you discover and see the beautiful art you create! Bee playful. Bee paper.

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