Traditionally, vellum refers to a specific parchment made from animal skin—typically of a calf, goat, or sheep—that has been carefully cleaned, scratched, and cured. As the papermaking industry evolved, so did the term, which has today also come to refer to paper surfaces that are translucent, not unlike tracing paper. Thin and smooth, modern vellum is typically designed to withstand redrawing and erasing and can be used for drafting, tracing, and overlays. As our picks below show, it’s important to pick the right type to suit your needs.
1. Canson Artist Series Vidalon Vellum Paper Pad
Designed to take a variety of mediums, Canson’s vellum presents a stunning writing and drawing surface. Each sheet—noticeably sturdier than typical tracing paper—has a uniform translucency and feels super smooth. You can draw on this archival vellum with pencil, pens, ink, and even use gouaches without the surface buckling, and it captures subtle details, such as shading and texture very well. It even stays crisp after repetitive erasures.
2. Paper Junkie Translucent Vellum Paper
This is an economical pack of vellum paper that’s well suited for DIY projects. It is very thin, so while not the best for drawing on, it is easy to cut and makes for excellent tracing paper or a decorative surface. The waxy feel of the sheets can add an elegant touch to invitation cards, for example. Should you want to write or draw on them with ink, we recommend taking extra care to let your message dry before touching. And keep it simple, as these sheets are prone to curling with moisture.
3. Shynek Colored Vellum Paper
This festive pack of vellum features sheets in 10 colors, from light-blue to scarlet. As the sheets are quite thin, almost akin to tracing paper, they are best used as decorative accents rather than drawing surfaces. Use them as bright overlays to jazz up a card or to add pops of color to your scrapbooking projects. Their flimsiness makes them easy to cut and fold, but they are still relatively durable, so they won’t inadvertently rip.
4. Clearprint 1000H Design Vellum Roll
Architects swear by this vellum, which presents a clean and satisfying translucent surface to draw on. Made of 100% cotton, it stands up to erasing and holds ink with no ghosting, feathering, or warping, so your lines always look sharp and crisp. Clearprint also offers consistently top-quality products, and you can rely on each roll to present a flawless and uniform surface all the way through.
5. Strathmore Laser Vellum Inkjet Paper
If you need to print designs with a laser printer, this is the best vellum to feed into your machine. Once inked, the sheets dry quickly, and while they have smooth surfaces, these aren’t prone to smudging as they move through the printer. The vellum also has a good amount of translucency to show any inked message on its surface, while still allowing details of anything placed beneath it to come through. Results might vary slightly depending on your printer, but these sheets are generally resistant to curling as they get inked.