Yupo paper is pretty amazing. It’s a synthetic (read: not made from trees), waterproof, recyclable paper that comes in white and translucent finishes. Because of that, you can’t treat Yupo paper like regular paper. I sort of knew this before I tried it, but rather than read all about the do’s and don’ts I jumped in straight away with a Micron and some markers.
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I started out with a sketch of the little cutie Pino from Ergo Proxy. It’s a pretty simple line drawing – perfect for tracing a bunch of times and experimenting!
I used a .01 Micron to trace the line drawing onto computer paper. Normally, I draw lots of sketchy lines when I use pens. This time I went for long, smooth lines and regretted it about half way through. I grip the pen too hard, my hand shakes – it’s not me and it shows. So I switched to a .005 Micron and used shorter strokes on some cheapo marker paper and the Yupo paper.
One thing I did read about Yupo paper was that you could use watercolor on it, pretty much wash it off after, and the paper would be fine.
Knowing this, I tried (SO HARD) not to drag my hand through the ink or touch it at all. Knowing this, I used a super-secret technique to strategically place archival fingerprints all over the drawing.
I used Prismacolor, Copic, and Winsor & Newton (W&N) brush markers to color the line drawings. Keep an eye on the big art supply websites and every once in a while you can catch a good deal on a set! For the computer paper drawing I used a #2 cool gray W&N marker to map out the shadows, then colored it in.
I liked the effect of doing it this way, but for some reason the W&N marker didn’t play nice with the other two brands. It created a strange edge, even after giving the first layer plenty of time to dry. I also noticed that the W&N markers don’t flow as well as the Prismacolor or Copics.
For the marker paper I used a lighter gray because I thought the other one was a little dark. As it turns out the W&N #1 cool gray was too light, but the effect was still nice.
When it came to the Yupo paper I had a decision to make between the lighter and the darker gray. Since the permanent, archival Micron smeared so much already, I figured the lighter gray would be better. Let’s be real, I had no delusions that the markers would blend on the Yupo paper. But I really wanted to see how this would work. Spoiler alert: it was a mess.
Not only did the colors not blend at all, but they picked up the permanent, archival Micron ink and smeared it all over! I wasn’t super surprised by this, since drawing on this stuff is kind of like drawing on plastic. The paper is not absorbent at all, so layering isn’t really an option.
Side note: the translucent version does give you the option of using both sides to add layers/colors/etc. Mab Graves does amazing work with Yupo paper and if you don’t know her, you do now. You’re welcome!
Yupo paper is pricey, but the good news is that you can play with it and wipe it pretty much clean if you don’t like the result. Obviously some media and colors will stain, but that just adds character, right? The flip side of that is if you want to preserve your masterpiece it will need to fixed properly – both to protect the work and to keep the paper from yellowing.
I’m super excited to keep playing around with Yupo paper. If there’s something you want me to try, let me know in the comments.
Thank you so much for reading! Happy New Year!