Quality Feel, Great Texture, and High dMax
Epson recently added Exhibition Watercolor Paper, a traditional, mould-processed paper, to their signature collection. It's a thick (22 ml), heavy (310 gsm), highly textured 100% cotton-fiber paper that's OBA-, acid-, and lignin-free. Because it's OBA-free, the paper white is slightly warm. Epson states that it has a dMax of 2.3, which is the densest black I know of on a watercolor paper from any manufacturer.
In general, when compared to gloss or semigloss, watercolor or matte papers have a smaller dynamic range, blacks aren't as dense, colors aren't as vibrant and, because of their inherent texture, they show less of your image's detail. But, if the image is right, Exhibition Watercolor Paper hits the spot.
Inside the box, Epson placed the printable side up to make it easier to discern the coated side of the paper. I downloaded the Epson-designated ICC profile and, to demonstrate the paper's capabilities, I used a standard print test target of a variety of subjects that included landscapes, skin tones, color, and black-and-white patches. Using the Epson HDR print set, I printed on an Epson Stylus Pro 7900. With the Adobe Lightroom soft-proofing feature and my calibrated display, the results were impressive. The paper is capable of a relatively wide dynamic range; rich, saturated colors; deep blacks; and smooth gradients. Despite its highly textured surface, my images still retained a lot of sharpness and detail, and the paper was especially effective for portraits.
The distinctive look and feel of this paper is so wonderful that it's a shame to put it under glass. I recommend buying a box of 8.5×11″ (available in roll and sheet), and see if some of your images look better with this rich, highly textured watercolor paper.
Company: Epson America, Inc.
Price: Varies by sheet or roll size
Hot: Rich colors and blacks