Sketchbooks Gallore! choosing the right book for you

Sketchbooks Gallore! choosing the right book for you

I have made it my personal mission to find my favorite watercolor sketchbook. I feel like I've bought them all at this point and I'm excited to report I have found my personal Forever Sketchbook! And some other good ones along the way. I'll share my pros and cons. And these reviews and rankings are based purely on what I have tried - there are still many books I don't know and haven't tried. Iv'e split these into 2 Main categories Cotton paper sketchbooks and pulp paper sketchbooks. I'll add a video walkthrough soon when I get to town for better WIFI!

COTTON Watercolor Sketchbooks

1. Hahnemule 100% cotton

A5 size, 5.8 x 8.3" on 

Price: $ 29 on DickBlick

30 spreads.

All I have to say is it is incredible. Colors are vibrant and sharp, the paper has a tad bit of texture, so it's still nice enough to use pens and fountain pens without them getting clogged up like on most cotton paper. The cover and binding feels high quality and beautiful. I don't have any cons for this book except it is on the pricier side, but that is not bad for the quality in my opinion compared to some of the other books. 

2. Kilamanjaro Wire-bound Sketchbook ** Budget Pick

5.5 x 10" wire-bound, hard cover, $14.99 Cheap Joe's

20 sheets (40 pages front/back)

I like the paper, most similar to Arches. It comes with sketch paper between each of the watercolor pages which I find distracting, so I often tear them out. The paper can differ a little from the front to back, but find both are paintable. This book isn't bookshelf fancy, but functional and a great price.

there is a fancier black version. for $19.79

3. Etchr Watercolor Sketchbook

A5 5.75 x 8.25" Landscape and Portrait options

$28.49, Cheap Joe's

On Jerry's Artarama there is a Winsor and Newton spiral bound 5x7" cotton watercolor notebook for $12.50. I have not tried it but reviews are good. 

Pulp (non-cotton Sketchbooks)

1. Visual Journal Strathmore 140lbs wire-bound 

A5 5.5x8" Portrait

22 Sheets

$8.00 on Amazon (I tried to find it in other spots)

2. Hahnemuhle Watercolor Book

A5 5.8x8.3"

30 sheets

available between $20-30 

3. Moleskine Watercolor Book

A5, portrait and landscape options

between 17-30 depending where you find it

4. Stillman and Birn Beta Series


$18 on Jerry's Artarama


Tell me what you like and what you have tried! I love learning about new sketchbooks.






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1 comment

I’m really excited about your upcoming watercolor sketchbook adventure class! The chance to take a watercolor class from the creator of one of favorite oracle decks is a phenomenal opportunity I absolutely cannot pass up! just came across your post on Instagram and followed your bio link to sign up for your newsletter! Now I’m reading your blog posts and thoroughly enjoying them! Right now, my favorite sketchbook is a Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media sketchbook, either softcover or hard bound. Even though the pages are lighter weight, they are 100% cotton and can take quite a beating. My other favorite surfaces are Strathmore Aquarius II paper which is a cotton and polypropylene blend. It’s only 80# but can take on tons of water and still dry completely flat without having to tape it down. It’s only sold in large sheets, so I make an accordion fold booklet with a single sheet. I use other sketchbooks as well, but these are my current favorites.
Katharine Ryalls replied:
Wendi, Thank you so much for sharing the papers you love! Those are 2 that I have not tried, which is why I’m excited to bring together a community for us to all be resources to each other. And your kind words about the oracle deck are much appreciated – I hope the class does not disappoint! I’ve had a lot of fun putting it together and those in the first “class” will help influence the direction we take the course with your feedback. I’m honored to create this space for us!


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