I have lots of wonderful drawers in my studio. Many artists (myself included) flock to the ALEX range from IKEA because it’s about as close as you can get to a plan chest on a budget, but they are also very clean and stylish looking. That said, they only hold up to a size A2 (420 x 594 mm / 16.5 x 23.375″) for paper and that fit is tight. For loose paper I often use a palette knife along the edge to pull up what I need, a sheet or so at a time, but pads are trickier to grab onto. Here is a really, really easy solution:
Get some duct tape (or packing tape) and tear off a strip, stick it to the underside of the gummed edge of the pad of paper. Fold it onto itself to create a lifting tab. Told you it was easy. No more struggling to cram a finger or ruler under the edge.
Simple is so often the best.