Strathmore 400 Series Toned Gray Paper Review - The Best Grey Toned Paper?

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Review of: Strathmore 400 Series Toned Gray Sketch Paper


Really good price for the amount of sheets you get


Smooth to medium surface making it really good for colored pencils


A little thin, but still good


Really good, doesn't even get damaged when erasing

What I like

  • Perfect texture for colored pencils
  • Lots of sheets
  • Handles colored pencils very well

What I don't like

  • A little bit too thin

Summary: Srathmore Toned Gray paper is best for using dry media like graphite, pastel and colored pencils. This paper is probably the best grey toned paper out there.

The texture is amazing for drawing with colored pencils. You can easily fill in the grain and make your drawing look very smooth and well blended. Though because the paper is grey the drawing might turn out a bit desaturated.

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I wanted to try this paper ever since I saw a video of Roman Miah using this paper. It made his drawing really pop so I wanted to try it too.

My experience with the Strathmore Toned Gray Sketch Paper

What mediums are best for Strathmore Toned Gray paper?

The Strathmore Toned Gray paper has a fine grained surface which makes it really good for graphite, charcoal, pastel and colored pencils.

The paper isn't really suitable for any wet mediums except for markers, because the paper is with a weight of 118 gsm/80 lb. a bit towards the thin side. A better option for wet media would be the Gray Toned Mixed Media paper from Strathmore. When drawing with colored pencils however you can use a solvent without the paper warping too much.

Why you should use gray toned paper

Gray toned paper is a great choice if you want to speed up your drawings or you want to make your drawing stand out more. You can easily do that by using a white pencil or a white pen to create highlights which you otherwise wouldn't have been able to see on white paper. And because the paper is already a mid tone you only need to draw the shadows and highlights which saves a lot of time.

The best textured paper

This paper has in my opinion the best texture for colored pencils.

When drawing with colored pencils it is very easy to fill in the grain and make your drawing look very smooth and well blended. Some pencils can be a bit transparent, though, which will make your drawing look desaturated and grey-ish, which I really don't like. But you can avoid that by using pencils that are opaque such as the Prismacolor Premier pencils (I've heard they are opaque, I haven't tested them yet). And as I said earlier, this paper works really well for using solvents to blend.

The drawing on the left made on the Strathmore Toned Gray paper looks more desaturated than the drawing on the right made on white paper. Both drawings are made with Faber castell Polychromos.


This paper has with a weight of 118 gsm/80 lb. a medium thickness and weight, but when making a colored pencil drawing in the sketchbook I found that I indented multiple sheets when I needed to press harder to blend and burnish. So if you're making a drawing and you need to press hard, don't draw in the sketchbook, but take the sheet out first to avoid indenting it.


The Strathmore 400 Series Toned Gray paper is available in 9" by 12", 11" by 14" and 18" by 24". The first two have 50 sheets and the last one 24.


Overall score:





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