The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (2024)

Best Overall

Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks

The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (1)

A versatile, high-quality sketchbook ideal for artists, featuring robust, mixed-media compatible paper.

Best for Pencil

Leda Art Supplies

The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (2)

Best for Professionals

Hahnemuhle Watercolour Book.

The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (3)

A premium sketchbook tailored for professional artists, equipped with fine-grain, watercolor-friendly paper.

The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (4)

Finding the best sketchbook is an easy enough task when looked at from the outside, go to the art store, pick one, and start creating right?
Well, no.

As a matter of fact, there are several factors an artist must consider thoroughly before making a purchase, like the paper type, weight, sizing, texture, color, size, and composition. Additionally, not all papers work for everyone, some might feel just wrong under our hands or are uncomfortable to use.

But how can we find the best sketchbooks? Where can we find them? How can we choose the one that fits the techniques and mediums we use?

Well, do not worry and look no further. In this guide, we’re going to learn how to choose the best sketchbook for you, from the basics to the specific factors you need to consider before making a purchase. We’ve also carefully selected some of the best sketchbooks in the market for every type of medium and artist from the best and most trusted brands.

Let’s get started!

What is a sketchbook?

A sketchbook is a book made especially for sketching, a group of pages glued or bound together where artists sketch, draw, paint, take notes, etc. Even though we’d like to have a certain definition of what’s supposed to go inside of a sketchbook, just like we can’t define art, we can’t also define how an artist uses a sketchbook.The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (5)

Created with the purpose of planning and sketching, you might find loose doodles, life drawings, small paintings, silly notes, poetry, complete masterpieces in a two-page spread, and pretty much that comes to mind before, during, and after the creative process.

Not every sketchbook is fit for every artist, depending on the medium, some characteristics will make a sketchbook a great fit for one medium but a disaster for another one.

How to Choose The Best Sketchbook for You

Paper Texture and Quality

The texture of a paper can change completely how a medium behaves, different artistic mediums interact in a unique way with the paper’s surface, and sometimes, texture is the key for a medium to work.

Smooth paper is ideal for fine lines and detailed work. Certain pencils, pens, ink, and watercolor techniques will benefit the most from this paper. The lack of texture will allow the artist to create accurate, sharp, clean strokes or lines, but it won’t be great for mediums that need a textured surface to hold them down, like soft pastels, charcoal, oil pastels, colored pencils, etc.

Textured paper “grabs” the medium and allows you to work in multiple layers without worrying about smudging, or removing paint, plus it gives a new dimension of depth to the artwork.

The quality of a paper will define how it interacts with paint, ink, or other mediums. High-quality paper is usually acid-free which prevents the yellowing of the painting, color changes due to PH, and overall degradation of it, making the artwork last longer while keeping its vibrance. These papers are also more durable and will be able to handle heavy layering, repeated erasing, water-intensive techniques in watercolors, or techniques like masking and scraping in mixed media.

Paper Weight

Paper Weight is determined by how much a ream of paper (500 sheets) weighs together, this results in a number like 60, 100, and 140 lbs, or 90, 180, and 300g/m² in the matric system.

These numbers can tell us a lot about each paper besides weight, for example, heavy papers are more durable, can endure more aggressive techniques, and are less prone to creasing and curling.The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (6)

  • Lightweight Paper (under 120 GSM) is ideal for dry mediums like graphite, colored pencils, or crayons. These papers are typically smoother and better for detailed work.
  • Medium Weight Paper (120 to 300 GSM) is very versatile and can handle light washes of wet medium along with dry mediums. This weight range is good for mixed media applications.
  • Heavyweight Paper (over 300 GSM) is best for wet mediums like watercolor, gouache, or heavy acrylic. These papers can absorb more moisture without warping or buckling.

Absorbency

While weight is important, the levels of absorbency of a paper are crucial for different mediums, for example, paper made for charcoal and dry mediums is not suitable at all for ink, watercolor, gouache, or even markers.The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (7)

The paper used for wet mediums is specially treated to resist warping and to withstand multiple layers of paint and reduces the possibility of ink bleeding through the other side or spreading uncontrollably upon contact with the paper’s surface.

For art forms like calligraphy or detailed inkwork, controlled absorbency is key to achieving sharp and precise lines

Color and Tone of Paper

Color and tone might seem like the same thing but they’re not. Color refers to the actual color (hue) of the paper, you’ll find white paper, cream, ivory, tan, gray, black, or even bright colors like blue, green, orange, etc.

The color of the paper will affect how the final artwork looks for semi-transparent mediums like watercolors, and can also serve as a base or underpainting for mediums like acrylics and oils.The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (8)

The tone on the other side refers to the lightness or darkness of a paper, which can influence how mediums look on top of it. For example, artists can use the paper itself as a mid-tone, which allows them to add both highlights and shadows, creating a wider range of depth compared to white paper.

Size and Format

The size and format of a sketchbook play a key role in an artist’s work, not only influencing the scale of their work but also the style, portability, and comfort.

Larger sketchbooks offer enough space to release your full artistic expression, for artists that prefer working on large formats these sketchbooks are the best. At the same time, they are quite impractical to carry around.

The format, whether landscape, portrait, or square impacts the composition and orientation of the work, and sometimes the comfort when holding it up or working on it.

In the end, it also comes down to preference and use. If you’re often on the move and need a portable sketchbook for life sketches or capturing travel experiences, a pocket-sized sketchbook is ideal. However, for studio work, larger-scale drawings, or if you simply prefer more space, opting for a bigger sketchbook would be the better choice.

Price

And finally, the one factor that will always affect our decision. The price. Usually in the art supplies world, more expensive means better, however, that is not always the case with sketchbooks. While quality sketchbooks and paper are always more expensive due to their quality, special paper treatment, and durability, more affordable sketchbooks are never a bad choice, especially if you’re a beginner or a student.

Color studies, thumbnails, figure drawing sketches, etc are some of the few art practices that will burn through your sketchbook pages like wildfire, so investing in high-quality expensive sketchbooks for practice work does not make any sense.

Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024

  1. Best Sketchbooks for Artists Overall — Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks (Gamma Series).
  2. Best Sketchbook for Pencil Artists —- Leda Art Supplies Premium Sketchbook.
  3. Best Sketchbook for Professionals Artists — Hahnemuhle Watercolour Book.
  4. Best Sketchbook for Mixed Media — Strathmore 500 Series.
  5. Best Budget Sketchbook for Mixed Media — Canson XL Series Mixed Media.
  6. Best Sketchbook for Markers — Crescent RendR Hardbound Sketchbook.

#1. Best Sketchbooks for Artists Overall — Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks (Gamma Series)The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (9)

Selection Criteria

  • Paper Texture and Quality: Medium Grain Surface.
    • Our Score – 9/10
  • Paper Weight: 150 gsm.
    • Our Score – 9/10
  • Color and Tone: Ivory.
    • Our Score – 8/10
  • Size and Format: 8.5 x 5.5 Inches.
    • Our Score – 8/10
  • Number of Pages: 100 Pages.
    • Our Score – 7/10
  • Price: $21.56.
    • Our Score – 9/10

About the Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks Gamma Series.

Stillman and Birn are a quite popular brand among artists who love working on sketchbooks. They have a dedicated sketchbook system offering diverse weights, textures, and colors. From softcover to spiral bound and hardcover, these sketchbooks offer pure white, cream, and beautifully toned papers for all kinds of mediums and techniques.

The Gamma series is a particularly good one for both dry, wet, and mixed media, however, we encourage you to try the different sketchbook versions this brand has to offer since they are exceptionally good and are not as expensive as other brands.

Pros

  • Heavy-duty paper
  • Acid-free pages
  • Versatile use

Cons

  • Higher price
  • Limited sizes
  • Heavier weight

2. Best Sketchbook for Pencil Artists — Leda Art Supply Premium Sketchbook.The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (10)

Selection Criteria

  • Paper Texture and Quality: Smooth.
    • Our Score – 9/10
  • Paper Weight: 120 gsm.
    • Our Score – 9/10
  • Color and Tone: Cream-tone paper, paper finish Matte.
    • Our Score – 8/10
  • Size and Format: 7 x 10 Inches / Portrait.
    • Our Score – 8/10
  • Number of Pages: 160 pages.
    • Our Score – 7/10
  • Price: $22.99.
    • Our Score – 9/10

About the Leda Art Supply Premium Sketchbook.

The Leda Art Supply sketchbooks are the secret favorites of many pencil and ink artists. Their exceptional soft pages make pencil charcoal and ink glide through like a dream. This sketchbook is not a hardcover one, but a softcover, which makes it a delight to hold and very easy to spread and use flat, additionally, its pages can handle light washes without bleeding through.

The paper is not completely with but has a slight cream tone, with a subtle but very pleasant texture, perfect to take on traveling or do some urban sketching with watercolor splashes.

Pros

  • Soft, durable cover
  • Premium quality paper
  • Ideal for pencils

Cons

  • Less page count
  • Not for wet media

3. Best Sketchbook for Professionals Artists — Hahnemuhle Watercolour Book.

The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (11)

Selection Criteria

  • Paper Texture and Quality: Fine-grain paper.
    • Our Score – 9/10
  • Paper Weight: 200 gsm.
    • Our Score – 9/10
  • Color and Tone: White.
    • Our Score – 8/10
  • Size and Format: 5.8 x 8.3 Inches / Landscape.
    • Our Score – 8/10
  • Number of Pages: 60 Pages.
    • Our Score – 7/10
  • Price: $22.66.
    • Our Score – 9/10

About the Hahnemuhle Watercolour Book.

Hahnemuhle is a well-known brand in the watercolor art world. Their sketchbooks have been the standard for many brands and the go-to brand of many professional artists.

Hahnemuhle’s sketchbooks are 100% cotton. Acid-free archival paper, and their quality and durability have not changed through time, they’ve only gotten better if anything, so we highly recommend them.

They’re on the expensive side but are completely worth it as they offer a different kind of experience for watercolor artists.

The landscape format makes it a great travel watercolor sketchbook and also works for landscaping when used as a double-page spread.

Pros

  • High-quality watercolor paper
  • Durable binding
  • Excellent texture

Cons

  • Premium pricing
  • Specific to watercolor

4. Best Sketchbook for Mixed Media — Strathmore 500 Series.

The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (12)

Selection Criteria

  • Paper Texture and Quality: Smooth.
    • Our Score – 9/10
  • Paper Weight: 190 gsm.
    • Our Score – 9/10
  • Color and Tone: White, Natural, and Gray.
    • Our Score – 8/10
  • Size and Format: 11 x 14 Inches / Portrait.
    • Our Score – 8/10
  • Number of Pages: 30 Pages.
    • Our Score – 7/10
  • Price: $19.50.
    • Our Score – 9/10

About the Strathmore 500 Series.

The Strathmore 500 series sketchbook is one of the best (if not the best) sketchbooks for mixed media that is out there. This sketchbook has paper sheets of exceptional quality, 100% cotton, and completely acid-free. The pages are white, but you have the option of going for a toned tan or gray sketchbook of a higher weight instead.

The Strathmore 500 sketchbook’s paper has been treated to handle wet media but its surface is made with a vellum finish which makes it excellent for drawing too. All in all, this is an excellent archival sketchbook that is used by many professional artists and is well-loved by the art community.

Pros

  • Professional grade
  • Thick paper quality
  • Mixed media friendly

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavier book

5. Best Budget Sketchbook for Mixed Media — Canson XL Series Mixed Media.The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (13)

Selection Criteria

  • Paper Texture and Quality: Textured.
    • Our Score – 9/10
  • Paper Weight: 160 gsm.
    • Our Score – 9/10
  • Color and Tone: White.
    • Our Score – 8/10
  • Size and Format: 7 x 10 Inches.
    • Our Score – 8/10
  • Number of Pages: 120 Pages.
    • Our Score – 7/10
  • Price: $15.96.
    • Our Score – 9/10

About the Canson XL Series Mixed Media.

Canson is one of the most popular brands in the art supplies world when it comes to affordability and quality. The Canson XL Mixed Media sketchbook is the perfect option for those who are looking for a reliable and easy-to-use sketchbook that won’t break the bank. This sketchbook has 120 pages of 160gsm, which is more than enough for most mixed media techniques. It has a nice texture that fits both detailed work and expressive strokes, and its white color makes it perfect for any kind of work.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Versatile paper
  • Good page quantity

Cons

  • Not for heavy washes
  • Less durable cover

6. Best Sketchbook for Markers — Crescent RendR Hardbound Sketchbook.The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (14)

Selection Criteria

  • Paper Texture and Quality: Smooth.
    • Our Score – 9/10
  • Paper Weight: 180 gsm.
    • Our Score – 9/10
  • Color and Tone: White / Matte.
    • Our Score – 8/10
  • Size and Format: 8.5 x 11 Inches.
    • Our Score – 8/10
  • Number of Pages: 64 Pages.
    • Our Score – 7/10
  • Price: $21.60.
    • Our Score – 9/10

About the Crescent RendR Hardbound Sketchbook.

Marker artists have been looking for the perfect sketchbook for ages, and the Crescent RendR Hardbound Sketchbook appears to be the solution we all have been looking for.

This sketchbook stands out for its bleed-proof, high-quality paper, which is ideal for markers and heavy inks.

The RendR sketchbook’s paper is designed to prevent bleed-through, allowing artists to use any kind of markers, especially alcohol ones on both sides of each page (which is impressive) without worry.

The lie-flat option they have also allows artists to work on two-page spreads and is much more comfortable on the hands and arms, definitely a must-have for mixed media artists.

Pros

  • Marker bleed-resistant
  • Durable hardcover
  • High page count

Cons

  • Limited paper texture
  • Slightly heavier
The 6 Best Sketchbooks for Artists in 2024 – Artchive (2024)

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