The best way to express and emote your feelings through art is on the canvas and, in our case, a sketchbook!
Deciding what kind of sketchbook is best for you can be a real challenge, especially if you have just started your creative journey. There are tons of options available on the market that offer something for everyone. The first step is to figure out what you want and what you can work with, depending on your level of expertise.
Some sketchbooks create a challenge for you, while others offer a ground for experimentation. There are some sketchpads that allow you to use mixed media on it, while some only stick to dry or wet media which is again a very specific need according to what the artist desires.
We also need to figure out what size we should be working with. Is it a small, medium, or large size sketchbook that will be perfect for a portrait or can be framed later on?
In most cases, you will also need to decide whether you want one for journaling and carry it with you everywhere or just use it for special occasions when you want to draw in peace and quiet.
This article presents a selection of the five best sketchbooks based on their paper quality, size, and versatility of media use.
- Best Double-spiral binding Sketchbooks: Strathmore 455-3, 400 Series Sketch Pad
- Best Acid-free pages Sketchbooks: Leda Art Supply Perfect Premium A5 SketchBook
- Best For all dry media Sketchbooks: Moleskine Art Sketchbook
- Best for Drawing & writing Sketchbooks: Hahnemuhle SketchBook
- Best Lightweight & travel-friendly Sketchbooks: Pentalic Art Drawing Book
5 Best Sketchbooks – Must-haves For Artists
The five best sketchbooks featured in this list are analyzed based on their paper quality, size, and ability to use any media type.
Strathmore 455-3, 400 Series Sketch Pad
This Strathmore 455-3, 400 Series Sketch Pad is a perfect sketchbook with perforated papers as well as a double spiral binding base which allows the sketchbook easy to spread flat on any surface so you can draw and sketch with ease and comfort without bending or folding the paper.
It can be used for a general purpose, such as doing drawing and sketching practice or creating a masterpiece, and it is up to you! This sketchbook is specifically for the use of dry media such as pencils, colored pencils, crayons, and charcoal, as well as graphite, etc.
It comes with 100 thick, high-quality pieces of paper, which are perfect for drawing anything without transferring to other pages. The sketchbook cover is made up of a premium quality chipboard base which gives a good foundation to the sketchbook.
The premium quality papers do not get stained or yellow over time as they are acid-resistant. This product is perfect for amateur as well as professional artists.
All users mentioned that this sketchbook is the best of all sketchbooks they have ever used and said that the size of the sketchpad is quite ideal and standard. The page weight is also considered ideal by the users saying that they could easily draw, sketch and use a fine pen for their art.
The page and book quality is sturdy, and it lasts long; there is also no need to worry if you keep making mistakes because it is easy to erase any marks from it without ruining the pages.
My verdict on the product:
Overall, it is a perfect product because it is perfect for a beginner as well as an expert artist who wants to create fine art on a premium quality sketchbook,
- Double-spiral binding
- Standard-sized sketchbook
- Perfect for drawing, sketching, and penwork
- High-quality pages
- Not suitable for watercolor
- You cannot use both sides of the paper
Leda Art Supply Perfect Premium A5 Sketch Book
The Leda Art Supply Perfect Premium A5 Sketch Book is a medium-sized sketchbook with professional quality pages that gives you a multi-functional platform to use all kinds of mixed media such as light watercolor, pen, ink as well as charcoal, and pencil.
It comes with 160 slightly cream-colored pages, providing you with a light background theme to go with your creative endeavors. The pages are smooth and ideal for creating your very own masterpiece.
The sketchbook itself has a dense feel to it which makes it sturdy, while it is perfect in size, which makes it easy to pack and carry anywhere. If you are making your art outdoors, the weather shield book cover allows you to protect the artwork from getting ruined.
Plus, the pages are waterproof, and you can take them outdoors without the fear of getting the sketchbook wet. It comes with an elastic wrap that keeps the other pages together while you focus your eyes on one page. It also comes with a back pocket for holding your pencils or phone.
All users agree that this product is an overall perfect option for getting a sketchbook that allows the application of mixed media. Many users mention that they use fine tip markers which do not bleed through the pages or make them wet or tearable.
The pencil, as well as the colored pencils, lend really well when used on this sketchbook, and the textured paper gives it an edge. The cover is praised by all the customers who say that it is really soft and protects the book.
The quality of the sketchbook is commendable for the price because it has a lot of flexible options. The size is ideal for carrying anywhere because it is light and comes with a protective weather cover.
The quality of the pages is great, too, as the pages do not get wet, and you can easily use fountain pens to do art, which allows even more creativity to take place.
My verdict on the product:
Overall, it is an excellent choice because it has been deemed the perfect sketchbook by the customers as it consists of all the features that they desire, such as premium page quality, water-resistant, and the use of all kinds of mixed media.
- Multi-purpose usage
- Textured pages
- Acid-free pages
- It allows for dual use of the pages
- Moisture-resistant steel
Moleskine Art Sketchbook
The Moleskine Art Sketchbook boasts its premium quality and flexible features that come with a sturdy base, elastic band, and cover that allows you to be more organized.
The cover is sturdy like leather, giving a thick and protective base. The pages are of a high standard and feature an ivory paper that works great with wet media. The binding gives the sketchbook great support and durability, making the books last for a long time.
Overall, the textured papers can be used to draw, journal or sketch, depending on your requirement.
All users say this is a pretty strong sketchbook with pages good enough for drawing, writing, sketching as well as using pens and ink pens without the fear of bleed-through.
It is a perfect sketchbook for creating vibrant illustrations, and the slim design is ideal for carrying anywhere. The users also like the ivory and tan shade of the pages of this sketchbook, and the strong binding of this sketchpad makes it durable and gives customers trust that their money was not wasted.
It can also hold onto paints, and the colors appear really vivid on the pages.
My verdict on the product:
Overall, this is a great choice of a sketchbook which allows versatile dry media usage on the pages. It has a strong binding and is a strong companion for all kinds of artists.
- Perfect for all dry media
- Sturdy base and cover
- Textured ivory paper
- Stylish design
- Alcohol-formulated pens and markers will start bleeding through the pages.
Hahnemuhle Sketch Book
The 'cappuccino' Hahnemuhle Sketch Book features an attractive, sturdy thick dark brown cover and comes with a total of forty sheets that have a slight tan shade to them. The paper is acid-free, so it will not turn yellow over a period of time.
These pages work great and act like a tint for your warm-colored artwork, giving them a vivid effect. The papers are smooth, and you can use any kind of dry media on them, which will perfectly bend and mix together.
You can use ink, pencils, watercolor, gel pens, and ink pens, as well as acrylic markers. It is a lightweight sketchpad that can be carried anywhere without causing a burden.
Overall, the users praise the thick quality of the paper that allows the use of all kinds of dry and wet media. The strong construction and binding of the sketchpad are also praised by the users, which makes it durable and perfect for carrying around.
The users love the coffee tint to the pages, which makes the artwork stand out, and the texture adds up to the attractiveness. It also absorbs and holds onto colors and ink quite well.
My verdict on the product:
I recommend this product because it’s a classic-looking sketchbook for writing and creating artwork with dry media as well as ink and the tan color gives it a vintage yet modern feel.
- Strong material and sturdy binding
- Colors blend well on the smooth pages
- Ideal for drawing, writing, and sketching
Pentalic Art Drawing Book
The Pentalic Art Drawing Book is called a traveler journal, making it ideal for outdoor activities or creating artwork on the go. It consists of smooth, acid-free 120 pages, which are perfect for pencil use and do not become yellow over time.
It consists of an elastic closure for holding the places at all times. The pages are an attractive ivory color, making your artwork pop out. It also contains a back pocket where you can keep your documents, reference photos, and pens.
It is of perfect size which can perfectly fit anywhere. The cover is durable and holds the sketchbook protected in place.
Overall, users deem this product a handy sketchbook that comes with cute cream-colored pages, which give the artwork an extra filter effect. The pages are quite smooth and perfect for sketching, drawing, and shading as the pencil glides on perfectly.
My verdict on the product:
Overall, this product is a good option for people who like to capture any moment when it happens, and it is perfect for journaling as well as sketching on the go.
- Lightweight & travel-friendly
- Solid & protective cover
- High-quality & smooth pages
- Ideal for light wet media application
An artist’s imagination has no boundaries yet it is a requirement for an artist to transfer their imagination and creations onto a blank canvas that perfectly allows them to be expressive, maintaining the quality of their art.
Therefore, sketchbooks are the first thing that comes to mind which helps the artists channel their inner Picasso and Van Gogh. Not all sketchbooks are pretty decent so make sure to look for the following features to find the best one.
1. Size & Paper Quality
The size of the sketchbook is a feature that depends ultimately on the artist and their personal use. Some artists may be amateurs and starting up so they want to use a smaller sketchbook to create their first designs or artworks.
That doesn’t mean that the masters don’t require a small sketchbook, they might also use it for specific purposes or select certain themes. So it completely depends on the artist.
But usually smaller ones are ideal for carrying anywhere as well so any level of the artist can use it. It will have a shorter space and you might not be able to use all sorts of media (dry & wet) but it will act as a base for your masterpieces.
Paper quality is the most essential out of all features, again depending on the artist’s use, preference, and level. Some sketchbooks will have a smooth surface that is great for all sorts of dry media including HB pencils, charcoal pencils, and ball pens.
Other sketchbooks will have a slightly rough texture with a thicker page quality for both dry and wet media, especially for the use of watercolors. It will also be transfer-free which means you can use both sides of the paper without worrying about running the previous one.
This feature will ultimately help save you money and pages both.
2. Versatility and Mixed media usage
It is extremely crucial to buy a sketchbook for the right kind of use; some artists maybe interested in sketching with a light HB or 2B pencil while others may go harsher with 4B and charcoal for their artworks.
Others are interested in creating a masterful painting using wet media which will include water and poster colors that are thick and heavy on the pages. So either get one that provides both dry and wet options or choose the one that you want to work on depending on your art style.
Also, make sure you get one that you can scan for your digital artwork.
Many artists like to work in the peace and quiet of their homes or may even go to the library or natural settings to feel inspired. Some may also get a sketchbook specifically for their ease of use.
Whatever the reason, make sure that you can carry the sketchbook with you. If it is small, it does not have to have lesser pages, similarly, a large sketchbook does not have to be heavy.
It should also have a hard covering like leather or thick hardwood so the inner contents are kept protected without worrying about weather conditions.
Make sure that the sketchbook can fit anywhere in your handbag to your backpack or laptop case. If you are spending money on it, it should be portable and versatile for use anywhere you want.
Some sketchbooks are specifically water-resistant but they will most likely work with dry media so that is a good choice for carrying outside in high moisture or slightly rainy weather.
4. Design & Structure
Some sketchbooks look delightful and easy to use until you use them and try to lie them on the flat surface of the table and the middle spiraled rib pops up. That is the most annoying thing you will face as an artist so make sure it lies flat on the surface so you can easily draw, sketch, or paint without having to fold the sketchbook or put it in an uncomfortable position that hurts your hand and wrist.
Some sketchbooks will come with an area to keep your pens or pencils with the so which allows ease of use and easy carrying of essential items that seem to get lost. The design of the sketchbook should also put it at ease to keep it in bags without being too pointy or heavy.
The structure should be rigid so that even if you tear a page from it, you won’t affect the binding as w a whole. Many sketchbooks will have a metallic binding so make sure it isn’t affected by moisture or you will get rust all over your paper and it might even break apart.
5. Customer Satisfaction & User Feedback
Reviews and feedback from other artists matter the most when buying a sketchbook because you will get to know a lot more than the company’s actual product specifications.
For instance, the product may be specified as just for use for dry media yet a user might have developed a technique to make it effective even for wet media usage, this will allow you to use the product more efficiently hence saving you money, effort, time, and energy.
You can make the most use of your sketchbook by seeing how other artists with your similar interests have made the sketchbook even better. You will also get to know if the pages get yellow with time or not.
What to look for in a sketchbook that is perfect in every way?
First off, you need to make sure that the sketchbook you buy can be laid flat on the surface for drawing because if that is not the case, then your paper will always have a curve as the spine is uneven.
Plus, it just makes it comfortable when you can lay the sketchbook flat and draw it in any position you like. The size is another element to look for; for starters, a small one can do, but if you are at an intermediate level and think you can handle the larger ones, I suggest you go for a medium-sized one, that is an ideal size to get in all cases.
A good sketchbook also has the quality of using mixed media on its surface without the need to buy a separate one for painting or sketching.
This article presented a selection of the five best sketchbooks; all the listed items are great in terms of the overall paper quality, durability, use of mixed media, etc.
Overall, the best option for versatile use of mixed media is Leda Art Supply Perfect Premium A5 Sketch Book, and Strathmore 455-3, 400 Series Sketch Pad is ideal for dry media usage.
These sketchbooks provide the artist with high-quality pages and solid covers and binding. The Pentalic Art Drawing Book is also a great option which is ideal for traveling.