Mineral & Polypropylene Papers

This week we are exploring a relatively new addition to the world of art supplies - archival art papers that are plant-fibre-free! (Just when you thought you had heard it all!)  Originally, these papers were developed for industrial printing purposes, however artists from all disciplines have passionately latched onto synthetic papers for their incredibly unique and versatile qualities.  We are going to look at how best to use two specific products: YUPO made by Legion Papers, and Mineral Paper made by Yasutomo.

 Fluid Acrylic on YUPO 


  • made of 100% polypropylene
  • waterproof
  • stain-resistant
  • extremely strong and durable, resists tearing and buckling and remains perfectly flat
  • non-absorbent, flawlessly smooth vellum surface
  • transparent colours applied to bright white YUPO retain their true clarity and brilliance
  • 100 lb weight – rigid and opaque
  • 100% recyclable (category 5 plastic).

Watercolurs on YUPO 

Media Recommendations

  • watercolours
  • pen and ink (especially alcohol inks)
  • pencil (coloured or graphite)
  • acrylics. 
Because it is essentially a plastic paper, YUPO rejects thick applications of oil and acrylic; as the paint films dry and shrink, they can peel right off.  YUPO is also not recommended for use with cold wax medium and definitely cannot be used with hot encasutics or it will melt.  The general rule for YUPO is that whatever media you choose to use, make the application very thin and you'll have good results.

 Oil paint on YUPO 


With watercolours, diluted acrylics, and ink, YUPO behaves similar to a hot pressed watercolour paper. YUPO's non-porous nature allows colours pool on the surface and dry slowly, which also allows colours to be lifted again and again even after drying completely. 

YUPO has a lovely velvet texture which is similar to vellum and has enough tooth to make it suitable for pencil work (graphite, coloured, or watercolour pencils).

 Watercolour Pencil, Coloured Pencil and Graphite on YUPO

Avoiding YUPO's Pitfalls

  • Smears & Smudges:  Like many great things in life, the thing that makes YUPO unique and awesome is also what makes it a pain in the behind; it's non-absorbancy.  Dried oils and acrylics (if laid on too thick) can peel or chip off if the sheet is handled roughly.  All pencil lines (coloured or graphite) smudge endlessly and will need to be spray-fixed before handling.  The same goes for inks and watercolours; they'll need to be spray-fixed before handling.  If you choose not to fix, be aware that any direct contact with moisture will leave your painting with permanent water spots, smears, or (worse yet) it'll just wash away.
  • Mud:  Because of the non-absorbent nature of YUPO and the tendency for paint to pool on the surface, it's recommended to work slowly, allowing colour applications to dry before adding more, and/or use a limited colour palette (or your piece can end up quite muddy as colours pool together).
  • Finger Prints:  Although it can fail to accept some media, YUPO readily holds fingerprints which can act as an oily resist when using watermedia.  It's recommended to wash your sheet of YUPO with soap and water before you paint.

Alcohol Ink on YUPO

Mineral Paper

  • made of 80% calcium carbonate (limestone powder) and 20% HDPE (high density polyethylene; plastic resin)
  • The source of the calcium carbonate is waste material from marble quarries and off-cuts which are ground and reduced to fine white powder.
  • Very environmentally friendly, the production of mineral paper uses no water, no acid and no bleach or optical brighteners
  • waterproof
  • stain-resistant
  • extremely strong and durable, resists tearing and buckling and remains perfectly flat
  • non-porous, flawlessly smooth vellum surface
  • pH-neutral and is 100% recyclable (class 2 plastic)
  • 100lb – supple, flexible and translucent

Mineral paper (which is also called stone paper) is different from other synthetic papers, offering it's own unique working properties.

Ink & Watercolour on Mineral Paper

Media Recommendations

  • watercolours
  • pen and ink (especially alcohol inks)
  • pencil (coloured or graphite)

Although it is technically a 100lb paper, it doesn't have the same integrity as Yupo. Mineral paper won't stand up under it's own weight like a proper 100lb cardstock sheet would. Instead, mineral paper tends to want to slump (more like fabric than paper).  As a result of this, mineral paper is not suited for use with heavy bodied paints (oil or acrylic). 

Mineral paper is compatible with inkjet printers, but will not respond well to the high temperatures required with laser printing.  


Mineral paper is the newest member of the synthetic paper family (so new in fact that it is difficult to find examples of art completed on mineral paper). This paper has a slightly more pronounced tooth than YUPO and has a similar velvety feel like matte drafting film. Mineral paper will accept staining colours better than YUPO. It also has in common all of the same pitfall issues as YUPO: smudges & smears, mud, and finger prints, with the addition of staining incredibly well too (this could be a good thing or bad thing). Before commencing work, make sure your sheet is clean of oils and finger prints and that artwork is fixed in place after its completed

March 02, 2016 — Karen Bullaro


Vitginia Odenkirk said:

Who made the art in this article? Is there an artist website that I can find them on to learn more about the techniques used?

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