I'm one of those people that gets hooked on one kind of paper (or soap, or jeans, etc) and does not look any further afield. Arches 140lb cold press works just dandy for me. I've tried other brands but they have ridges in the wrong places and my paint doesn't flow the way I want it too. Even stepping up to Arches 300lb is a bit of a shock to the system for me, although I do use it for larger pieces because of it's strength and durability (less warp factor). I tried it for a few ACEOs because I thought it would be nice and sturdy, but it was more of a pain than anything else.
Hot press (smooth) paper is great for ink & watercolor illustrations, but I have serious blending issues with it so I don't use it for portraits.
But last year I read an article that referenced Yupo paper. It's a completely man-made paper with an incredible smooth finish and zero warpage. Too good to be true?
Well I finally picked up a pad last weekend and tried out my new Opera Rose shade of watercolor on it. I used a child's synthetic paintbrush because that's all I could find at my dad's where we stopped after our road trip (going to Blick's requires food and travel papers...I'll explain another time).
So this is what I found: the texture of the paper is like plastic. Actually, the paper IS plastic I guess - it's 100% polypropylene. But the watercolors didn't bead like you'd expect. They reacted in much the same way as on hot pressed paper. A little tricky to control, but the colors stayed true. I had some issues at first and added a WHACK of water to the blue background (my issues involved dust in the paint tray that I had to try and drain off). I was so surprised to find that the paper didn't even buckle. And it's not thick! A matte finish was produced after drying.
Is this something I'll use often? Probably not, but I will have fun experimenting with illustrations in the meantime.
oh, and by the way...you can't take a ruler to it and try to rip off a section (d'oh!) yeah, it's plastic all right.