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  • Writer's pictureMonika Gupta

How to choose a sketch book?

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

I am amazed by how many times I get asked - what sketchbook should I buy?

Although, looking at the options available in stores, it shouldn't be surprising. There is a large variery of brands, styles and sizes out there and it can get very confusing for a beginner.

So let me share here a few factors that I find useful to evaluate, when considering a sketch book.

1. Size – Size is one of the most important factors that determines how frequently the sketchbook will get used. A ‘notebook’ size e.g. 8 x 10 is a size we’re most familiar with since school days, and thus is a good bet if you don’t know what size will suit you best. An A5 or A4 size is another great option if you’d like to have a larger surface available for your drawings. A pocket-size (e.g. 3 x 5 inch) is good one for ‘travel’ sketching or quick ‘thumbnail’ sketches.

Inktense pencil sketch in a 3 x 5 travel sketch book
Inktense pencil sketch in a 3 x 5 travel sketch book

2. Paper Quality – Paper quality is the next most important factor, and directly impacts the ‘joy’ you’ll experience while sketching. Make sure to use a good quality paper i.e. stay away from cheapest, newsprint or see-through papers. Most sketchbooks specify the ‘medium’ they’re meant for, and you wanna pay attention to that. Typically, a 100gsm paper is good for dry media such as pencil or charcoal, but if you want to use wet mediums such as watercolors or ink, stick to 200 gsm or higher. For Ink, it is also important to use a bleed proof paper.

3. Paper Color – White is certainly the most popular color when it comes to choosing paper color. However, note that bright white is usually very distracting to eye and unless you’re seeking greatest possible contrast e.g. as in case of pen/ink drawings, you may want to stick to off-white or beige papers. Grey and Tan are other popular colors, that allow quick rendering with an additional dark and white colors, since the paper itself provides the medium tone

4. Binding – The thickness and the binding of the sketchbook are other important considerations in my opinion. I love spiral bound since it is easy to fold over, to lay flat, and also allows me to discard pages that I don’t want to keep. However, if you like to flexibility of using either one side or both sides of an open book, then you don’t want wires to come in the way. Whether wire bound or not, a sketchbook that lay flat will generate the most optimum sketching experience, in my opinion.

5. Paperback/Hardcover – I don’t have a preference when it comes to hardcover v/s paperback. They both have their advantages, and I have a selection of both types. Paperbacks are lighter and more flexible, while hardcovers offer the durability, and also offer a solid support while drawing. Both types offer lay-flat options and different paper color/quality options.

Are you a beginner sketcher? If so, let me know in comments below, if you find this information useful.


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