Many accomplished artists work only with sketchbooks of a certain format and this may very well be your MO. Whether you’re an experienced artist or new to sketchbook creations here are a few points you’ll want to consider when shopping around for your next art journal to bring out your best work.
Points to Consider When Searching for the Best Sketchbook
First up, the sketchbook you might choose would depend greatly on the type of work you typically create. For many, whether your book is a landscape or portrait orientation is just as important as paper quality. Do you prefer large strokes of your medium or are you a mini art creator?
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Then there’s spiralbound or hardbound, and soft or hardcover. All of which is a personal preference.
I prefer hardbound to spiral for example because I find spirals awkward to work around. But in saying that, I’ve never displayed my hardbound sketchbooks neatly on the shelf – instead, they get thrown in the deep bottom drawer of my wardrobe. So oftentimes I’ll go for the thinner thread-bound softcover sketchbook. This also makes it nice and light to travel around with which I tend to do on my long hikes in search of sketchable landscapes.
The type of paper, of course, is incredibly important for anyone using a sketchbook for their creations – whether that’s writing, painting, or drawing. Depending on what you’re working with you may prefer some thirsty pages for watercolor, crisp, smooth sheets for mechanical pencils or textured sheets for colored pencils or charcoal pieces.
To help you decide on the best sketchbook, one that you won’t regret, here’s a list of our top five.
For the frequent traveler who works in color.
Leda is an excellent brand that many artists love for many reasons – one being paper quality. These creamy colored and dense sheets will make your colors pop.
The pages don’t easily rip, smear or bleed and there are 160 of these perfect beauties. They can take quite a range of different mediums like pens, pencils, pastels, charcoal, ink, and graphite. But avoid this one if you work with wet media – as the near-perfect pages tend to warp.
You can also get this sketchbook in three other sizes: medium (5.7″ x 8.25″), large (7″ x 10″), and extra-large (8.25″ x 11.5″). The pocket is super small (3.5″ x 5.5″) and so great for a frequently traveling artist.
It’s one of the best sketchbooks with a softcover so it’s flexible and easy to bend if that’s your flavor and creating while on the go isn’t essential for you. The binding is sewn and very strong as is the reputation of Leda.
Some cool extra features are that it has a minimal and stylish cover design and comes with an accordion back pocket and elastic band to keep the book closed together or you can also use it as a bookmark.
For the artist on the go.
If you haven’t heard of Moleskin you’ve probably been living under a rock. The reason for the brand’s incredible popularity is because it caters not only to artists but also to designers, writers, travelers, and students by creating top-quality planners, notebooks, diary planners, and other writing supplies.
The quality of this hardcover art book is no different from its other products. This one, however, is excellent for people who love to sketch — maybe even in transit — and those who love to use tempera colors and ink.
The off-white paper is acid-free and with a density of 111 lbs for each of its 104 pages.
It’s small enough measuring at 5″ x 8.25″ so it can also be used by a traveling artist but gives you more room if you prefer your creativity to explore the page.
Part of its beauty is its thread bound spine which is often one of the reasons that so many people lean towards Moleskins. Though this particular sketchbook is a hardback, you can get the same leather-like cover in paperback as well (even better for the travelers). Both types have the bonus interior pockets for your artwork on the loose.
You can grab a color to suit your personality as they come in black, blue, red, green, and brown.
For the space lover.
Canson is a reputable brand that produces some of the best quality supplies and paper products. This superior sketchbook is no different, perfect for dry media including graphite and charcoal because of its fine texture and versatile surface.
Artists love Canson pages for their smudge-resistant feature and they can take a vigorous erasing session and remain wrinkle-free. The paper is both heavyweight and acid-free and there are 100 perfect sheets of them.
Their line of Artist Series Sketchbooks has some convenient features like micro-perforation, spiral binding, and a softcover design.
This landscape pad is incredibly long measuring two feet wide. So it’s the best sketchbook for artists who love to work with the space.
For the beginner.
This is a classic and the best sketchbook for all dry media including both writing and drawing. It’s perfect for the novice artist because of its simplicity and reliability.
There are 220 pages of the white 70-pound white paper inside – all acid-free and come from certified sustainable forests. This particular sketchbook is a couple of inches smaller than an A3, measuring 11″ x 14″.
The leatherette textured hardcover is both robust and smart. The fact that it’s hard means you can make art pretty much anywhere. Your drawings will be pretty safe from most smearing since the cover prevents the pages from sliding and also from crinkling while in transit.
It’s bound straight and sturdy so it lays flat when it’s open but looks great on your shelf as well.
For those who prefer wire binding– you’re in luck. This also comes wirebound which won’t get in the way when you’re creating your art.
For the square who works with wet media.
This square sketchbook (5.5″ x 5.5″) is also great for traveling it’s small enough so it fits in your bag easily.
The other excellent factor with this sketchbook is it’s not limited to dry media. The paper is a heavyweight buff drawing paper that’s acid-free. There are 128 pages for you to cover in dry or wet media including acrylic paint, pens, charcoal, graphite, and markers. But watch out when or if you’re using watercolors since the pages can only take a light wash before they crinkle.
This little beauty made in India has a durable cover that you can get in four different colors – red, blue, black, and green.
Its other features include the handy elastic bookmark/ wrap depending on which you prefer. Plus a clear pocket where you can store your loose works.
It’s also available and three other formats: large landscape (5.5″ x 8.25″), large portrait (8.25″ x 5.5″), and pocket landscape (3.5″ x 5.5″).