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By GJ Gillespie, artist and founder of Leda Art Supply 

When selecting a sketchbook or art paper, one of the most important choices is the color tone of the paper. The tone you choose can enhance your art style and medium. Here are the main options when it comes to paper color tones:

Bright White - This tone is a stark, bright white. It provides high contrast and is ideal for graphite, charcoal, and other black and white medium drawings. The downside is that bright white can also cause glare, which can overwhelm a composition. Also, it can be harsh on the eyes for extended periods.

Cream/Off-White - offers a warm, slightly yellow undertone. It has a natural look and feels softer than bright white. Cream paper is popular for colored pencils, pastels, and watercolor washes. The creaminess can make colors look richer.

Gray - Gray paper provides middle contrast and mimics prestretched canvases artists often use for paintings. Gray is great for bold, saturated colors like markers and acrylics. The muted paper helps colors pop. 

Specialty Tones - Some paper comes in unique hues like black, browns, blues, and greens. These colored papers work well for specific projects, like emulating night sky or nature scenes. They can be trickier to work with.

The most popular tone among artists is cream or off-white. The warmth and subtlety of the cream color is pleasing to the eyes while still allowing colors and lines to stand out. Many artists choose cream sketchbooks as their daily go-to's.

Artists also love cream tone because it resembles aged paper. There is an appealing vintage vibe to the creaminess, as if the paper has been naturally lightened over time. This explains why many painters start with a grayed out canvas - they want their bright colors to stand out against a muted, aged background.

When selecting paper tone, tap into your inner childlike creativity to decide what best fits your own style. As Pablo Picasso said, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."

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