Paper Alert

Comparison: Elias and Tomoe River Loose Sheets

EverythingCalligraphy sent over a few loose sheets of Elias and Tomoe River Papers for me to compare. These two are my favorite types of paper, and I was really happy to compare them side by side. I must admit it’s quite difficult to do that, though, because they’re quite different. To the uninitiated, paper is paper is paper. To the true pen and paper fans, it doesn’t matter if you have the best writing implement in the world. If you write on poor quality paper, it just grates on the nerves. Writing on good paper is such a pleasurable, tactile experience that I enjoy so thoroughly that it takes me a long time to pick a notebook, and only a few make it to my “staples”. These two are at the top rung.


I tested the paper samples with different pens and inks. Here are a few close up shots of the writing samples.

For Elias’ 90gsm loose sheets

Elias paper is so easy to like. It’s smooth and creamy and makes your pen’s nib just glide on the paper. Even scratchy nibs feel smoother on it, and I’ve yet to see a pen and ink combo that will make it bleed through or feather. Here are some writing samples below.


Tomoe River (White)

Tomoe river is one of the nicest paper I’ve ever used. It has a premium feel to it, which is strange because the paper is so thin and delicate. It reminds me of papel de hapon or onion skin paper, it’s really thin. However, it holds up really well to any kind of writing implement, as well as watercolors. Here are a few close ups of the writing sample below:


Tomoe River paper also comes in cream color, which I prefer. It’s difficult to photograph the difference between the white and cream colored paper. It’s a lot more pronounced in person, but check out the photos below (cream on the left, white on the right). Brown and green inks are a lot more gorgeous on cream-colored paper, I think. It has that aged look to it.


Overall Impression

I really like both paper, though they’re very different in terms of how they render fountain pen ink colors. Elias renders the colors very vibrantly, and the edges of the lines you write appear really smooth and sharp. When using fountain pens, it’s like writing on a very soft surface. Writing on Tomoe River paper gives just a tiny hint of feedback, which is also a really nice thing (in a different way). The resulting lines that you write with pens isn’t as crisp as on Elias paper, but the overall effect is really super awesome.

I also think Elias paper handles brush pens better than Tomoe River because the brush pens just glide over it so easily, and distributes the ink so well. Brush pens tend to feel just a tiny bit dryer on Tomoe River paper.

In terms of showing off sheen, Tomoe River shows off sheen in the way that it shows off shading (more sheen in places where the ink pools), and Elias paper shows off sheen in a more uniform way, evenly distributed as you write.

Elias paper tends to absorb ink at a faster rate, which results to some inks rendering differently. For example, brown inks tend to look different (Elias paper on the left, Tomoe River on the right):

Brown ink tend to look lighter on Elias than on Tomoe River paper. I find the same effect on green inks. It’s not that it doesn’t look good, it’s just different. I posted this some time ago, but here’s a comparison of R&K Alt Bordeaux on Elias paper (left) and Tomoe River paper (right).

I think it’s a prime example of how inks react differently on different kinds of paper. Both colors are pretty, though.

People who like to integrate art in their journals will be happy to know that both Elias and Tomoe River paper take watercolor well. Tomoe River takes wetter washes better, though (say that 10 times, fast haha). Elias can take moderately wet washes, and it doesn’t break apart. See the photos below (Elias on the left, Tomoe River on the right)


There will be much wrinkling on paper, and somehow the thinner Tomoe River paper will show that more obviously at first, but since it’s softer and can lay flatter, it is a lot less noticeable on your journal in the long run as you fill more pages with watercolor painting.

Elias Paper
Tomoe River paper

A big difference between these two kinds of paper is their price. Tomoe River is, by far, more expensive.

Like I said earlier, they have a different look and feel, but both are very good paper in their own right. The best way for you to know which one you like better is to try them. Both are available at Everything Calligraphy.

7 thoughts on “Comparison: Elias and Tomoe River Loose Sheets”

  1. Great review. May I know what blue ink had that spectacular red sheen used in the Franklin-Christoph? 🙂


      1. Thank you. Never thought Shin-Kai would have that much sheen. Tomoe River is fantastic.. 🙂


  2. Excellent review. Which of the two papers show blue inks better?
    Although you reviewed the white Tomoe River paper here, may I ask which is “yellower” or more yellow in color between Elias paper and the cream colored Tomoe River?
    Thank you.


    1. Hello! Both of them show off lovely sheen and shading. I think Tomoe River reacts less with the ink colors as they dry, though. The ivory color of Tomoe River is yellower than Elias paper. 🙂 Hope that helps!


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