I love sketchbooks. I am one of those people who picks up a sketchbook pretty much whenever I walk into an art store. There are so many different types to choose from and a variety of factors to consider, such as binding, paper texture, and price.
In the past, I wouldn't want to buy the nicer sketchbooks for fear of messing them up and wasting paper. In the end, I've learned that it's worth the investment to get a good quality sketchbook. It can be frustrating to constantly fight against poor paper quality. If you're in the beginning stages, it might feel counterintuitive to invest in a sketchbook, but in my experience, using a nice sketchbook helps you learn the nature of watercolor.
I tend to prefer smoother papers, so my sketchbook choices definitely go in that direction. Also, I use all of these sketchbooks with wet media like watercolor, ink, and gouache. For planning sketches with pencil, I usually just use computer paper and a clipboard!
Below are the sketchbooks that I like to keep on hand. Read on to see my favorites!
My new favorite sketchbook is Strathmore's 500 Series Mixed Media Art Journal! I've been so impressed by the paper quality that I have actually been making some final paintings in this sketchbook and scanning them into Photoshop. The paper texture is smooth and I find that this paper accepts water and reworking exceptionally well. The paper is thick, so I usually have to use a clip like seen in the picture to hold the paper down. The only thing that can be tough is scanning, considering that the sketchbook is bound and hard to lay flat against a scanner bed. Not a fault of the sketchbook, just something to note! I appreciate both bound and wire sketchbooks for different reasons. I have this sketchbook in 8.5inx11in as well as 11inx14in - they are such a treat to use!
I love using this travel size Moleskine Watercolor Notebook for little sketches, like these small vases. I have always loved Moleskines - they are so well designed - and happy to find that the watercolor paper can make for many lovely paintings. This paper has a nice amount of texture - not too much, not too little. With the Moleskine watercolor books, I do tend to lay down a wash of water first then begin my painting once the wash has dried. For me, this helps to prep the paper and avoid those rough edges that can happen with watercolor. I never knew to do this prep wash until a teacher recommended it!
I am such a fan of Canson's different XL papers. They are the perfect quality for experimenting - the paper is smooth and you get many pages for a great price! I use the XL Mixed Media pad, which comes in a wide range of sizes. I find the 7inx10in to be a great size that I don't find too often in other sketchbooks. Plus, this pad is wire bound and has perforated pages, making it easy to tear out sketches and add them to an inspiration board. This may be the sketchbook for you if you are looking for lots of good quality paper to use when experimenting with different materials.
Square Bee Paper Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketchbooks are my go to for pattern experimenting - the unique square format and smooth, thick paper can make for some wonderful paintings. This was my go to sketchbook for many of my pattern sketches when I was first beginning to share on Instagram and I just ordered two more, one 6inx6in and one 9inx9in. Highly recommended!
I keep one of these small Pentalic Pocket Sketchpads close by for quick ideas and experimenting with new color combinations. You never know what color combo you will make when playing around with colors! I also love this sketchbook for little ink sketches, it accepts ink washes beautifully!
A few tips:
+ Use clips (even clothespins!) or masking tape for holding down pages while you are painting.
+ Try laying down a wash of water, which can be clear or a color, and let it dry before painting.
+ If you can, go to an art supply store and feel the papers! Sometimes you won't know which one you like until you are holding it in your hands.
I hope this look into my collection of sketchbooks was helpful! PS: These are just my opinions, I am not affiliated with any of these brands :)