• A pile of artist sketchbooks

    Sketchbook Reviews Round-up

    Today I thought I’d do a brief sketchbook reviews round-up following my recent series of posts in which I’ve shared my thoughts about various different sketchbooks I use.

    It’s worth pointing out if you haven’t read my sketchbook reviews that we are all unique. We all paint in different ways and look for different things from a sketchbook. So a sketchbook one person favours another person may find doesn’t suit them at all.

    Sketchbook Reviews Round-up

    The type of sketchbooks in my reviews.

    I generally prefer hardbacked stitch bound sketchbooks, so I choose these for my recent reviews. They’re also all suitable for watercolour or water-soluble media.

    My overall thoughts on my Saunders Waterford sketchbook Review.

    Saunders Waterford Hard Back Sketchbook

    The first sketchbook I reviewed was an 11″ x 10″ Saunders Waterford. It contains 28 sheets of my favourite 100% cotton paper with lovely deckled edges.

    A real positive for me with this sketchbook is that it contains a decent of weight paper, 300gsm / 140lb, which means I can happily paint fluid washes without worrying the paper will buckle too much.

    I do however find it quite bulky and heavy to both carry if sketching out and about, and also if I’m not resting it on a hard surface when using it.

    Being my preferred paper I have found this sketchbook a joy to paint in although I feel it’s a little too pricey for one of my everyday sketchbooks. It feels too special for me to use for experimenting in.

    If you’d like to read my full Saunders Waterford Sketchbook Review please click here.

    Saunders Waterford sketchbook page

    I love using this for a special sketchbook because it has such a nice feel and quality about it.

    My overall thoughts on my Stillman & Birn Delta sketchbook Review.

    Back Cover Of Stillman & Birn Delta Sketchbook
    Embossed logo on the back cover.

    The second sketchbook I reviewed was a 5.5” x 8.5”, 14cm x 21.6cm, Stillman & Birn Delta series. It contains 26 sheets of 270gsm ivory paper which is almost like card. I found it stayed flat without hardly any buckling even when lots of fluid paint had been used.

    I like it’s convenient size, it’s small enough for me to pop into my bag and take with me without being too bulky or heavy but it’s large enough to allow me to be expressive without getting too fiddly!

    I read many reviews before I bought this sketchbook and know lots of watercolour artists absolutely love it. However, I unfortunately found the paper doesn’t seem to suit the way I like to paint in watercolour.

    Although a Delta Series isn’t my own first choice for a purely watercolour sketchbook I do really like it for my mixed media studies. I like that the stitching has remained tight and secure despite it opening completely flat.

    If you’d you’d like to read my full Stillman & Birn Delta Series Sketchbook review please click here.

    Sketch in a Stillman & Birn Delta sketchbook
    I like the surface for pencil studies such as this one of an ornamental thistle from my garden.

    My overall thoughts on my Khadi Sketchbook Review

    Khadi Sketchbook
    Back cover of my Khadi sketchbook

    The third sketchbook I reviewed was a 25cm x 21cm Khadi sketchbook. It has 40 sheets of 210 gsm cotton rag paper with a slight texture, similar to a NOT surface. Although the surface texture however does vary from page to page.

    The sketchbook opens completely flat making it easy to use. However I unfortunately found it didn’t seem to suit the way I paint in watercolour.

    For me the Khadi sketchbook doesn’t feel too precious, so I’ve been very happy to use it for an everyday sketchbook. I really like the look of this sketchbook with its lightly textured brown paper cover and deckle edge on one side. I feel it has a beautiful simplicity about it.

    If you’d you’d like to read my full Kahdi Sketchbook review please click here.

    Mixed media woodland studies in Khadi sketchbook
    Watercolour & Ink Studies

    I enjoyed using the khadi sketchbook for mixed media experiments especially using watercolour, inks and gesso together, the handmade feel of the paper seemed to work well with these studies.

    My overall thoughts on my Hahnemuhle Watercolour Book Review

    The fourth sketchbook I reviewed was an A5 Hahnemuhle Watercolour Book. It contains 30 sheets of 200gsm fine grained paper in a natural white.

    Hahnemuhle Watercolour Books
    A5 Portrait & Landscape Hahnemuhle Watercolour Books

    They feature a rubber band to keep it closed and secure when not in use. This is a feature I look for because it helps to protect the pages when I’m popping it in my backpack along with all of my other walking bits when out for a day’s walking.

    I find the watercolour books are fairly slim and not too heavy making them comfortable to hold.

    I like its paper for both pen & wash and pen/ink sketches. The surface has enough texture for me to create expressive marks in pen without it being too textured which I find can make it difficult to produce fine marks.

    So you might be asking why it’s not my perfect sketchbook? That’s a very good question! It’s because I’d really like it to be available in a square or squarer format rather than just ‘A’ sizes.

    If you’d like to watch a short flip through video of my Inktober sketches in this sketchbook please click here.

    To watch a short flip through video of another of my completed Hahnemuhle Watercolour Books please click here.

    If you’d you’d like to read my full Hahnemuhle Watercolour Book review please click here.

    Autumn leaves pen and wash study
    Pen & Wash

    This is probably my favourite small sketchbook at the moment. It’s one I can definitely see myself using again in the future.

    My overall thoughts on my Strathmore 500 Series Art Journal Review

    The fifth sketchbook I reviewed was a 5.5″ x 8.5″ 500 series mixed media art journal. It contains 32 sheets of 190gsm 100% cotton paper with a vellum finish.

    Strathmore 500 Series Art Journal
    I sometimes stick a sketchbooks details on the back cover for reference.

    The Strathmore 500 Series Art Journal with mixed media paper is one of the sketchbooks I have on the go at the moment. It’s the first Strathmore sketchbook I’ve used and although I have only done a few sketches so far I really like it.

    Like some of the other small sketchbooks I’ve reviewed I find it’s not too heavy making it quite comfortable to hold and easy to take around.

    Although the mixed media paper in the 500 series art journal is slightly lighter in weight than some of my other sketchbooks, being 190gsm, I’m finding it strong enough for to use for the expressive mixed media studies I’m exploring at the moment. This I feel is one of the benefits of using 100% cotton rag paper.

    The paper has a fine vellum texture that makes the surface texture smoother than I normally use. I have to say when my art journal arrived I was a little disappointed to find this smoother texture. However I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I’m enjoying working on it. I like the crispness it gives to my watercolour marks, if I don’t wish to soften them.

    If you’d you’d like to read my full Strathmore 500 series Art Journal review please click here.

    Poppy sketch in Strathmore 500 series sketchbook

    I can see this will become one of my “go to” sketchbooks when using a small sketchbook.

    My overall thoughts on my Travelogue Watercolour Journal Review.

    The last sketchbook in my series of reviews was my 8.25″ x 8.25″ Travelogue Watercolour journal. It contains 30 sheets of 200 gsm cellulose paper with a cold press, NOT, surface on both sides.

    Travelogue Art Journal

    The paper is a nice weight, 200gsm, that I have found flattens quite well. Although it’s worth me saying because of the way I use this particular sketchbook, as a holiday journal, I haven’t really tested it when using lots of fluid washes for full page sketches.

    The like that the Travelogue Watercolour Journal has an elastic band to keep it securely closed. I also find this useful to keep the right page flat when painting if using it outside in a breeze!

    One of the things that I most like about this sketchbook is that it is stitch bound but still opens completely giving a nice flat surface across the join.

    I have found it the ideal size for me to both sketch, attach ticket/small leaflets and record memories in throughout the holiday. It contains an envelope on the inside of the back cover which I use to keep small leaflets or tickets safe in until I’m home when I can glue them in. I also like having the elastic band to keep it securely closed, which is quite useful when popping it in and out of my hand luggage.

    Although there are lots of things I like about the Travelogue I prefer other sketchbook papers for using as one of my everyday sketchbooks. This one doesn’t seem to suit the way I like to paint.

    Sketches in a Travelogue Art Journal

    So in conclusion whilst this may not be my ‘perfect’ sketchbook it is one that I will be using again for my holiday sketchbook/journal.

    If you’d you’d like to read my full Travelogue Watercolour Journal review please click here.

    So, as you can see in my sketchbook reviews round-up I am still on the lookout for my perfect sketchbook!

    If you would like to see more of my sketchbook studies please click here.

    I hope you have found my series of sketchbook reviews interesting.

    Happy painting,


    You can see more of my daily art activities on my Facebook and Instagram pages.



    2 thoughts on “Sketchbook Reviews Round-up

    1. I love the Strathmore 500 series sketchbooks. I buy the soft cover 7 1/2 x 9 1/2 size. So much more portable than the hard cover version.

      1. It’s great isn’t it! I’ve not tried the soft cover yet but I may give it a go.

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