July 15, 2021 3 min read
Yupo is a synthetic paper made from polypropylene used in art predominantly, alongside alcohol inks but is sometimes touted as a “non-absorbent” watercolour paper, which in and of itself is a strange concept to wrap your head around. Traditionally, inks, colours, pigments and dye absorb into the porous surface that they are applied to, or at least bind to the surface. Not so with Yupo paper. Applied inks and watercolours dry on the surface and can be wiped or scraped away which opens up an entirely new way of approaching both alcohol inks and watercolour paints when using Yupo paper.
So, what is the big draw of Yupo paper? (no pun intended!) Well, the ultra-smooth high-white surface is very appealing to those looking to get the best out of their transparent inks and paints, as the white surface of Yupo paper will increase their intensity to make them pop.
The resistive quality of Yupo paper also means that inks and watercolours will glide across the smooth surface effortlessly, and getting to grips with how they flow on non-porous surface might take a bit of practice. This means that watercolours do not dull quite as much as they do on traditional paper, as such washes and colours are almost as bright as it was off the brush when used on Yupo paper.
Yupo paper does not only take wet mediums. It will also accept fineliner pens, permanent marker, alcohol markers and graphite pencil. This is very useful for underdrawings and an overall excellent surface for mixed media techniques and abstract work in particular.
Synthetic papers and especially Yupo paper are exceptionally durable, resist tearing and do not buckle when wet. This means you do not need to spend time stretching paper on a board to keep your work surface lovely and flat. Yupo paper also comes in different weights. We have a standard 85gsm as well as heavyweight 155gsm available.
If you are unhappy with a piece of work on Yupo paper you can take a cloth and isopropyl alcohol (aka rubbing alcohol or surgical spirit) to clean away watercolours or alcohol inks from the paper to start again from scratch. Alternatively use brushes, sponges or cotton buds soaked with isopropyl alcohol to take colour off the page for reductive techniques. It should be noted that if you want to keep from reactivating previously dried layers or accidentally wiping off not entirely dried media, then you should use a suitable spray fixative or alternatively spray varnish to seal the finished piece.
Alcohol inks are super bright and punchy as they provide intense colour thanks to the dye they are made with. They are completely transparent so the bright white surface of Yupo paper only intensifies their vibrancy which makes them a popular choice for subjects like flowers and loud abstract works. In recent times there has been a rise in popularity amongst artists, thanks in no small part to Yupo paper as it provides an ideal surface for use with alcohol inks and can be easily cleaned if needed. On traditional papers alcohol inks instantly absorb into the porous surface and as such do not blend or behave in the fluid fashion afforded to them by Yupo, but still make for lovely detailed work if used with a brush and a steady hand.
Even though alcohol inks lack the same permanent qualities of their pigmented acrylic brethren, manufacturers nowadays are using the strongest and most resilient dyes available that are not prone to fading quickly to address concerns regarding the longevity of their art.
The best way to keep your ink art safe is to use either a fixative or varnish which features a UV filter, that means the filter will protect your work and keep it looking nice and bright for a good time to come.
Ultimately alcohol inks are bright and expressive lending themselves well to those who admire a loose approach to art or enjoy the abstract, but with some practice artists who appreciate detailed work can learn how to control these inks masterfully. Whatever your preference alcohol inks are a rewarding medium to explore as they offer such a unique way of working quite unlike anything else available to artists.
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