As an artist, having sketchbooks is fun. I too love to buy sketchbooks and then watch them… from afar. I’m only half joking! But surely, you’ve bought more sketchbooks than you need before.
I sure have!
I have two piles, actually: the pile of filled and overused sketchbooks and the other with empty pads, waiting to be filled with drawings and doodles.
Nonetheless, my top pick for a regular artist sketchbook is, surprise surprise, this Canson XL Series Pad!
Sometimes we are just intimidated by the blank of the paper, so we just look at the sketchbook from time to time. There are ways to overcome this and it’s all about motivation!
But other times… Well, you bought a sketchbook that you thought was cute, but once you received it, the paper was weird. Too thin, too textured, it doesn’t really matter. The truth is, it doesn’t feel good while drawing.
It is important to have a good sketchbook and, most importantly, one that feels comfortable when drawing. Personally, I’d say it’s good to have at least two sketchbooks: one that is bigger and that you use while at home. And other, smaller and portable to bring with you.
You never know when motivation and inspiration will hit you!
Why I Chose the Canson XL Series Pad
I really like the Canson XL Series Pad.
This is the perfect sketchbook to have at home.
You could still bring it with you in your purse or backpack if you wish to. But I still think that something smaller would be more comfortable and less weight on you.
Nevertheless, this pad is 9 x 12 in and it has very thick paper, 160gsm, which makes it perfect for regular sketching with pencils, for inking and even watercolors. In one sketchbook, you can work with a variety of materials!
One thing that I really like about this pad is that you can remove each individual sheet if you wish to. The sketchbook is spiraled, which is always a plus for me, since I prefer to work on one sheet of paper at the time, without having the rest of the sketchbook limiting my movements.
This way, I can just fold the sketchbook and start drawing.
And each sheet is perforated, making it easy for you to take the paper out, with fewer chances of ripping the paper by accident.
Don’t you just hate when that happens?
Just carefully pull the sheet and you have you drawing in a clean, perfect piece of paper that you can hang or save anywhere!
As for the texture. It’s Canson, you already know it has great quality! I cannot express in words how much I love their paper texture. I love how it embraces my pencils and lines, gaining attrition. It has medium texture, so something you can feel to the touch already.
This texture is perfect to use with graphite, colored pencils, watercolors, inking pens and even markers!
Grab everything you own and start playing.
Here’s the link again, get it on Blick: Canson XL Series Pad
Features to Look For in a Sketchbook
There are a few things to take into account when buying a sketchbook:
- What are you using it for? Depending on the medium you’re using, you might want to look for paper that is good for it. Let’s say you just want to use pencils on it. Both graphite and colored ones. Then you won’t need very thick paper, 100gsm will do. On the other hand, if you work with wet mediums a lot, like watercolors and markers, then it’s the opposite. Something with 160gsm would be perfect.
I wrote a blog post, where I ramble a lot about paper and cartridge paper, so if you want to know even more about it and how to choose the perfect paper for you, take a look!
- Where are you using it? There are a variety of paper sizes. Anywhere, you can see numerous pads, in all sizes as well. Depending on where you’re using your sketchbook, the size of it might change.
Drawing Outdoors? Consider a Smaller Sketchbook!
If you like to draw outdoors while commuting to work and even while traveling to new places, then you might want to grab something small, let’s say A5 size or less.
Personally, I always carry with me an A6 sketchbook. A very plain one and with a cardboard cover.
This way, I can just put it in my bag and go.
It won’t be too much weight on my back, nor will it occupy a lot of space.
On the other hand, if you tend to draw at home, most of the times, then an A4 size fits best. It’s comfortable and has lots of space to draw on. In each sheet of paper, you have enough space for many sketches!
Now, if drawing on a bigger canvas is a problem, then having a smaller sketchbook than that is fine as well.
The most important thing is that you like your sketchbook and feel comfortable drawing on it. Start small, if needed, and grow from there.
- Spiral or hardbound? Oh boy, this one is hard. Well, no, it is not necessarily a hard one. As always, it all comes down to what you like the best. If you don’t know yet, you can always get one of each and see what you prefer.
For me it goes this way: I always have A4, hardbound sketchbooks to use at home.
There, I tend to draw on my desk, so I just put it down on this flat surface and start drawing. Since the sketchbook is fully opened, it won’t limit my movements as much, nor will it move around. It is splayed before me, ready to draw.
As for the smaller, portable sketchbooks, I always go for spirals!
Very simple, when not at home, most the times I’ll end up drawing on my lap. For me, it’s easier to fold the sketchbook and take control on only one of the sides.
This way, it won’t move around as much, nor will it limit my movements while drawing.
Remember that a sketchbook isn’t something you use to make perfect, final drawings. Of course, you can, no one is stopping you from it! But the idea of having a sketchbook is so you have a place to experiment.
For this reason, it’s important to have a sketchbook, where you can try out different materials and styles.
A sketchbook is something you use to relax and do some mindless doodling or to plan future pieces you want to draw. It’s a safe place for you to play and try new things. For you to learn and come back later and see your progress as well.
And above all, it’s a place for practicing!
Have an Extra Portable Sketchbook Solution
We talked about regular sketchbooks and I mentioned portables as well, but no examples.
Fret no more, here it is: the Pentalic Traveler Pocket Journal! Uff, that’s a long name!
It is extremely portable. In fact, in my opinion this is the best portable sketchbook for artists.
6 x 4 inches, so you can fit it anywhere, maybe even in your pockets. A rather large pocket, but it can still happen! It is perfect to randomly sketch throughout the day, anywhere.
The sketchbook has an elastic band so that it won’t open inside your bag and fold, wrinkle or even mess your pages by accident.
Also has a small pocket on the back, so you can store anything you’d want there. Some flower or leaf you particularly liked and want to keep or brochures for example!
The paper is white and lightly textured, so it’s really good to use with pencils.
Now, this is a sketchbook for you to draw simple doodles. Using markers or watercolors won’t really do here, the paper isn’t thick enough.
But it is perfect to use with graphite, colored pencils, inking pens and even charcoal.
The pad has also a ribbon marker, so you can mark the last page you were working on and come back to it faster.
Small, portable sketchbooks are very useful if you like to draw on the go. If you like to travel and take small souvenirs and memories from it via drawing.
For that, this one is a perfect choice!
Here’s the link again: the Pentalic Traveler Pocket Journal (on Blick)