What is Drafting Paper?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2019
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Drafting paper is paper which has been specially prepared for use in technical drawings. It has a number of unique features which are designed to make it useful for architects, engineers, and other individuals who need to prepare technical drawings. Many art supply stores carry drafting paper, in a range of sizes and styles to meet specific needs. The use of drafting paper is in decline, thanks to the advent of computer aided design (CAD) systems, which allow people to make technical drawings on a computer, rather than needing to draw them by hand.

When a draft is prepared, it must be done on archival-quality paper, so that the image will endure and remain crisp for years. The paper must also contrast well with the colors of pen and pencil used, making it easy to copy the technical drawings. It is also important to use paper which is firm and not very elastic, since otherwise the precise details of the drawing could become distorted. Erasability is also key, as changes may need to be made and tell-tale streaks, lines, and smudges are not desirable.


Several materials can be used for drafting paper. Specially prepared wood-based papers are one option, as are rag papers and vellum. Some drafters use plastics, with plastic films being especially ideal for drawings which will be used to produce blueprints. Tracing paper is also used for drafting in some cases. In all cases, the paper is typically mounted on a drafting table, and specialized pens, pencils, and tools are used in the drafting process to render a very clear and precise image.

Some drafting paper is clear and unpatterned, but it is also possible to purchase paper with a grid. Grid vellum and other gridded drafting papers are useful for technical drawings, because they provide a frame of reference for the drafter and for anyone viewing the draft. Some grids are designed to fade out when the technical drawing is copied, so that they are not a distraction in prints, while in other instances, the grid will be retained when the paper is copied.

This paper is designed to be of archival quality, making it important to use archival pens and pencils on the paper so that the integrity of the image will not be compromised. It is also important to store drafting paper appropriately. Drafts should be rolled or laid flat, never folded, and they should be kept in a cool, dry place in low light. When people need to examine an original, they should make sure that their hands are clean, and they should spread the paper out on a flat surface, rather than unrolling it in the air.


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Post 3

Has anyone ever used Clearprint vellum drafting paper? I hear good things about it, and I'm trying to decide which kind of drafting paper to use for my architecture drafting and design course.

Could someone advise me please?

Post 2

Engineers use drafting paper too, but it's usually drafting graph paper or isometric drafting paper.

This allows them to better represent 3d shapes and designs on their drafts, which can be crucial in complex engineering.

Of course, I don't think it's the same kind of vellum drafting paper that architects use...

Post 1

I had no idea that you had to be so careful with architectural drafting paper. I guess that makes sense, especially for plans and blueprints that will be used years later, but surely every sheet of drafting paper doesn't get the same treatment.

I mean, don't architects have scratch pads or filler paper for their brainstorming? Otherwise that would be an extremely expensive and time consuming industry (well, more than it already is).

Or maybe I'm off -- are drafting paper and supplies used in an architect's daily work?

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