All creative ideas start somewhere, and they start with a sketch for most artists. Every architect, traveler, established designer, or a student needs a sketchbook to capture his ideas on the go because inspiration can strike you at any time.
This collection of the top 10 sketchbooks selected by WoWPencils will help you find the right variant for your needs. We’ve reviewed the best options on the market and took into account the prime criteria.
List of Top 10 Quality Sketchbooks
Speedball Bienfang: Best for Pencil Art
The first sketchbook in our review is for pencil lovers. This is a cost-effective, wire-bound representative from Bienfang with a spiral on the side. Its back cover is a sturdy cardboard, ideal for drawing on the go. Its front cover is just thick paper.
The pad contains 200 pages of lightweight (50lb.) and acid-free paper which is good to use with dry media like crayons, graphite, pens, charcoal, and colored pencils.
This is a great variant which contains a lot of pages for practicing your skills in sketching, journaling, or for quick studies. The pad’s size is 8.5 x 11 inches. It has unlined pages which suit students who don’t like taking notes on ruled paper.
- Good at erasing without paper destruction
- Plenty of pages
- Pencils and ink don’t smudge
- Compact size
- The back cover is not very hard
- Ink is visible through the paper
- The pages tend to curl up at the corners
- The pages are not perforated for easy tearing
Bellofy Artist Pro
This sketchbook from Bellofy features universal paper that goes well with a number of coloring media. It can withstand charcoal, acrylics, ink, and watercolors.
The paper is rather heavyweight (98lb.). It readily absorbs colors causing no smudges and can handle repeated erasing.
The pad includes 100 sheets, and both sides of each sheet have the same smooth texture. It comes with a flip-top spiral and micro perforation that allows tearing out pages neatly.
The size of this notebook is 8.5’’ x 11.5’’ (A4). The product is recommended for both beginners and professional artists.
- The pad is spiral bound which makes it comfortable for both left- and right-handed artists
- The paper is suitable for mixed media
- Plenty of pages
- Quality and acid-free paper
- The slight color transfer from wet media is possible to the opposite side of the page
- The pages become weaker around the spiral
- The pad is not sturdy
No more drawing restrictions with this set of sketchbooks from Arteza! The pack includes three 5.5’’ x 8.5’’ pads with paper density of 68lb. This paper is not thick enough to be used with water-based media, but it works well with pens, pencils, and pastels.
Each notebook features 100 sheets and has a spiral bound on its left side. However, this doesn’t mean that the drawings should always be portrait-oriented since the pad has perforated pages, and each sheet can be cleanly and easily detached. The front cover of the pad is thick glossy paper, and its back cover is thick cardboard.
- The pages are easy to remove
- A nice collection of 3 pads
- The given dimensions of the page don’t include perforation
- An affordable price
- A portable size
- The loops are too big and make drawing a little uncomfortable
- The size of the pads is small for professional artists
Artist’s Choice: Good for Beginners
This set from Artist’s Choice includes two sketchbooks with 75 sheets each, so that you can keep one for your classes and have a separate one for your drawing practice. This spiral-bound pad is 9 x 12 inches which easily fits in your bag. It features twin loop binding which adds extra durability to the sketchbook.
The paper is acid-free and only heavy-duty (60lb.) enough to handle dry media and ink, while alcohol markers and watercolor will leak through the pages.
The pages are not ruled and have a perforated edge which makes the sheets look nice for presentation without annoying tears. The front and back covers are cardboard. This sketchbook is an economical choice for beginners.
- The binding doesn’t interfere with its ability to lay flat on the surface
- The paper is smudge-resistant
- Comes in a pack of 2 pads
- Reasonable price
- Well-crafted binding
- The pages have a yellow tint and look like they are aged
- The paper is not able to handle watercolor
- Not suitable for finished work and fine art
- Can’t withstand much erasing
Moleskine Art Collection: Great for Mixed Media
This classic sketchbook from the Moleskine Art Collection is a favorite for designers, artists, travelers, and writers. This brand is loved for its top-quality and trustworthy products. This pocket-sized book measures 5 x 8.25 inches and contains 104 pages. It features an elegant leather-like black cover. This is a hardback type of sketchbook which keeps the pages from crinkling.
It has is a bookmark ribbon, inner pocket, and elastic closure to mark pages. This book has a sewn binding which is stronger than glue.
The book contains plain ivory paper which is acid-free and has a weight of 111lb. The pages are pretty dense and can easily support pencil, ink, and watercolor utensils.
- Sturdy and portable
- Durable cover with rounded corners
- Elegant design
- Thick paper
- Has a bookmark and inner pocket
- Opens at 180 degrees and lies flat
- Suitable for mixed media
- Erasing removes the creamy color of the paper and reveals its white surface
- New versions come with thinner paper and of different color
Art Alternatives Very Big Sketch Book: Top for Colored Pencils
This giant sketchbook from Art Alternatives is a perfect variant to keep all your drawings in one place and watch your art progress. This impressive book is so bulky that it will probably take you several months or even years to complete. The thing is massive and contains 300 sheets (600 pages). This is a hefty hardcover for your countless creative ideas.
The 75lb. paper is acid-free and bright white in color. Each page measures 12.5 x 10.75 inches which is a perfect size for large- and small-scale drawings. The paper supports carbon, graphite, colored pencils, gel, and fountain pens.
- Great for evolving projects
- The pages open completely flat
- Perfect for colored pencils
- Looks like an encyclopedia and can be an awesome gift idea
- Too heavy for traveling (7lb.)
- The paper is not recommended for watercolors
- The binding is not very good
Rustic Ridge Leather Legacy Journal: Top Architecture Sketchbook
This incredible journal by Rustic Ridge Leather is a great tool for architects, sketch artists, or serious writers. It is made by a small company which specializes in leather sketchbooks and offers a handful of quality goods. This item is manufactured from genuine high-quality leather with a leather strap which binds around the book twice. It includes 200 sheets (400 pages) of cream-colored acid-free paper which goes great with pen ink, graphite, markers, and colored pencils. All the pages are hand-sewn and come in 5 sections, so that you can use a separate section for different things.
This architecture book has a stylish look and comes in a gift box. Made of high-grade materials, it will last for years. This is a perfect way to record your poetry, thoughts, or sketches.
- Elegant design
- Genuine leather is soft to the touch and smells divine
- Comes with a sturdy gift box
- Plenty of pages divided in sections
- Well-crafted and quality thing
- The paper is very good
- A little pricey
- Pages are thin and don’t erase easily
Canson Universal: Ideal for Drawing
Sketchbooks from the Canson Universal series are a good option if you are looking for cheap and small pads to capture your fleeting ideas. It has a softcover design with a spiral binding on the side which is nice for folding over. This size (5.5 x 8.5 inches) is in portrait orientation. This pad is a handy thing to toss in your bag.
The 65lb. paper is acid-free. The book comes with 100 full sheets which are ideal for drawing with a variety of dry media and are finely erasable. Perforated pages are easy to detach to have them framed.
- Good travel size
- Perforated pages for quick removal
- Has a lot of pages
- The eraser doesn’t tear the paper
- The binding rings are sturdy
- The barcode sticker is hard to remove from the front cover
- Wet media will leak through the paper
Bee Paper Creative: Cool for Copic Markers
Another type of sketchbook to add in this guide is the one from Bee Paper company which is great for Copics and Touch markers. This 8.5 x 11 inch watercolor journal has 110lb. acid-free paper which is white and ultra-smooth. It is specially designed for use with permanent and water-based markers, ink pens, and other wet media. The pages are unlined and perforated so that they can be easily removed.
The black chipboard covers are very sturdy and create a flat surface if you want to draw in your lap. The journal features a double wire binding which is the same quality as other trustworthy art materials made by Bee.
- Sturdy cover
- Ideal for markers, for pens and other wet media
- Convenient page perforation
- Good price for a quality product
- Perforation doesn’t help much, so you may need scissors to remove pages
- The corners of the cover are prone to feathering
Strathmore 400 Series: Best for Watercolor
The last in this review is the Strathmore 400 Series. If you want a sketchbook which is focused on watercolors, then this 8 x 5.5 inches art journal is right for you. It has a soft, lightly textured cover of a rich dark brown color. The 140lb. paper comes in a landscape orientation for all nature journal enthusiasts.
The sketchbook has 24 acid-free sheets with a Smyth-sewn binding (on the short side) which allows you to leave the book wide open. The strong paper surface is ideal for gouache, watercolors, and acrylics.
- The paper holds watercolors well
- Flexible format in a portable size
- Quality binding
- Thick and heavyweight paper
- Soft cover is satisfying to touch
- Inks and watercolors dry slowly and create puddles on the paper
- Only one side of a sheet can be used because the other side has a different paper texture
|Review||Product Name||Amount of Pages|
|Peter Pauper Press||192x2|
Peter Pauper Press: Good for Ink Pen
Next up in this review is a set of two sketchbooks from Peter Pauper Press. A bigger pad (8.25 x 11 inches) is ideal for larger artworks, and a smaller one (5.25 x 8.5 inches) is for sketching on the go. You can keep one sketchbook at home and use the other one outdoors.
Each sketchbook includes 96 sheets of fine-tooth paper which supports dry media and works great with charcoal, pencil, crayon, and ink pen. The paper is heavyweight and acid-free with micro perforation on the side. The pads feature a black hardcover binding.
- There are two pads in the set
- Brilliant choice for ink pens
- Different sketchbook sizes for different purposes
- Micro-perforated pages for easy removal
- Archival-quality, heavyweight paper
- The pads open flat
- Doesn’t support watercolor
- The binding is not properly made
Field Artist: Perfect Travel Sketchbook
This 4 x 4 inches sketchbook from Field Artist is a perfect travel size to put in any purse or bag. All the 80 square-format pages are made of acid-free paper. This is a hardbound edition in gray PU-leather which features an embossed logo on the back cover. The cover feels very soft and padded. All the corners are rounded. The pad includes a page marker and a useful strap to keep it closed.
The 140lb. white paper is textured and easily takes graphite, pen ink, colored pencils, and watercolor will not show through. It withstands wet media with minimal warping results. There is a four-section accordion page in the back cover. This pad is a great option for small projects.
- Compact and portable
- The pages open flat
- Soft cover which is comfortable to hold
- Elastic closure and silk ribbon bookmark as a bonus
- No pointy corners
- The paper is great for multimedia
- The book may fall apart at the spine due to improper stitching
- The size of pages is 3.5 x 3.5 inches (not as claimed by the manufacturer)
Finding your own creative voice requires regular practice and working in your sketch pad. This is your second brain where you can store your ideas, new techniques, and styles. With an abundance of options available on the market, it may seem like a difficult task to select the right and best-quality sketchbook. Keep these vital things in mind to make a straightforward decision.
This guideline gives you a clear-cut idea about all the paramount points you should consider before purchasing. Just don’t be too serious in your choice. Anyway, sketchbooks are for trying out different techniques and experimenting. If you are a serious artist or think of a commercial side of your art, draw on loose sheets and frame them up.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is important to pair quality art tools with the right surface for drawing. This will let your works shine and turn them into magical and amazing art pieces. As sketchbooks are the most favorite drawing surfaces for most artists, here are some typical questions and answers for beginners. If you plan to record your sketches in a pad, you should be aware of the following things.
What Is Sketchbook?
So, what is a sketchbook? A sketchbook is a pad which is used by any person who works in a creative-visual field. Artists, graphic designers, and illustrators use them for painting 🎨, drawing, or sketching.
Sketching is considered part of an artist’s creative process. All the sketches can be classified as either those based on observation (focus on the documentation of the surrounding world and traveler’s records) or invention (artist’s internal journey).
Usually, these pads contain a variety of notes and simple drawings which allow others to estimate the artist’s progress over time. These intimate records are valued in contemporary art and are sometimes exhibited along with finished works of an artist.
Why Do Artists 🖌 Keep Sketchbooks?
Sketchbooks can be compared with the personal space of any artist which is dedicated to drawings, doodles, and other creative ideas. There are several reasons why artists keep a sketch pad:
- this is a kind of creative outlet where one can draw what he wants to draw and not what he is paid to draw. This is a space to express yourself;
- if you have it by your side, it will remind you to draw (with more practice, you can improve your drawing skills faster);
- this allows you to keep track of all the ideas, and they are collected in a special place;
- you can share your new drawings through social media channels to meet new clients and make sales;
- you can also use it as an online portfolio and show the world your best works.
Are you convinced now that every artist should keep a sketchbook? Get one if you don’t have one already.
What to Do with Sketchbook 🗒?
If you have an empty sketchbook with blank pages staring at you, here are some ideas to fill up these empty pages:
- draw your favorite outfit (fashion, shoes, bags, or jewelry);
- draw your favorite food (coffee, breakfast, or dinner) ;
- illustrate the covers of your beloved albums or books;
- draw a themed alphabet (visual representation of each letter based on a special theme);
- draw events (your pet, favorite coffee shop, etc.);
- make a collage which documents your life with stickers, labels, tickets, photos, etc.;
- make a color switch of all the drawing tools which you have. Make a reference guide of all the mixed and blended colors;
- draw from old photos;
- document what you watch on TV (folks on TV, characters from movies, etc.);
- create a sketchbook which can be shared between your friends.
You may add more cool ideas to the list. Your creativity knows no bounds.
What Sketchbook Needed for Prismacolor Pencils 🖍?
The basic consideration is the weight of paper. 100-140lb. paper is needed for Prismacolor pencils.
Next, hot-pressed and cold-pressed paper also play an important role. Hot-pressed (smooth) paper retains an ability for a pencil’s pigment to stay bright on paper. The marks are clear here, and this paper doesn’t take much pencil. Cold-pressed (with a deep tooth) paper loses a pigment’s saturation, and the colors appear more muted. This paper texture is visible and requires more layers.
One more significant thing is to choose pH neutral paper if you want your artwork to last longer. Try different kinds of paper and explore. Play with different techniques to learn by doing and to see what you like more.
What Is Difference 👀 Between Sketchbook and Drawing Pad?
The key difference between drawing paper and sketch paper is shown in the following chart.
|Sketch paper||Drawing paper|
|Used for experimenting, practicing, and quick studies||Used for finished artworks|
|Lighter (50-60lb.)||Heavier (64-100lb.), stands up to more erasing|
|Has a lighter tooth surface||Has a medium tooth surface|
|Supports most dry media||Works great with all dry media|
|Contains plenty of sheets in a pad||Contains fewer sheets|
The two types of paper 📃 are quite different. Their use depends on the techniques you choose for drawing (shading, blending, etc.), the results that you want to achieve, and your individual preferences.
Awesome and Interesting Facts
Here are some interesting facts you probably didn’t know about sketchbooks that were kept by world-renowned people:
- The sketches made by Leonardo da Vinci are the most famous ones. His sketchbooks are full of diagrams, drawings, written notes, and other things he saw or invented. He produced an average of 20,000-28,000 various sketches during his life. His journals are also called codex (codices). He used mirror writing in his notes and didn’t use punctuation. Almost all his journals were sold after his death and lost in private collections.
- Picasso was known to never throw anything away. In his lifetime, he produced around 170 sketchbooks. He used them to explore themes until he found a good idea for a larger canvas.
- Henry Moore was known to fill the whole sketchbook with drawings of sheep which wandered outside his studio.
- A famous German composer Ludwig van Beethoven always kept sketchbooks when he was composing. They have all survived and now help us understand the way he composed.
- A Dutch artist, Vincent van Gogh, always made sketches prior to developing his finished drawings. He used to draw with a reed pen and ink. He drew very fast and painted over 2,000 artworks in his lifetime.
There are dozens of legends, myths, and lies swirling around famous artists and other art creators. Sketchbooks and other personal belongings help us find the truth and disprove or prove most rumors.
Choosing the best sketchbook can be a tough call for a beginner. The search becomes easier if a person knows what exactly he/she wants. Start the search with yourself and determine the key characteristics of your sketchbook. Look around at what you see available for sale. Touch, smell, feel, and measure them to find what you need. We hope that this guide will be fruitful in your sketchbook odyssey.
- Sketchbook – https://en.wikipedia.org/
- How to Choose a Sketchbook – https://www.greenleafblueberry.com/
- 10 Reasons Why Every Artist Should Keep a Sketchbook – http://heatherfonseca.com/
- 15 Things to Do with an Empty Sketchbook – https://www.wellappointeddesk.com/
- Sketchbook Recommendations – https://www.reddit.com/