One of my sketchbooks is now complete. It's a satisfying feeling getting a book done and even though I have a few going at once I will be starting another one very soon. Why?
The 'feel' of the sketchbook.
Not only do different sketchbooks have different paper and formats but working in them can feel very different. For example a 5 meter long concertina sketchbook is an exhilarating experience when you have completed a few sides and fold them out to look. Plus there is the freedom of being able to work over a few sides all at once. Here are somes sides of one of my Seawhite A5 Concertina Sketchbook which comes with a sturdy case to protect it and the pages can be used on both sides. As you can see below I've worked with an abstract landscape here and it flows really well from one page to the other. The disadvantage is that it can be cumbersome when out in the field but somehow I've managed when using them.
There are differences in paper quality and formats.
I've experienced that the normal Moleskine sketchbook which has lovely cream pages copes very well with some media but not all. It especially doesn't like watercolour, whereas the Leuchtturm1917 that has white pages is a little better to different media and even though it is far from perfect with wet media it is one of my favourites. For some the white paper could be cold to work on in comparison with the moleskine. What I like about the Leuchtturm1917 is the amount of pages (96) and the hard cover that can be bought in different colours and it copes with getting thick. The paper is high fibre cotton and acid free, plus most importantly the books lies flat. It is made for using pencils, charcoal, chalk, pastels, felt pens and markers and in my experience it is excellent for all these! I might eventually find a sketchbook that might cope even better than this one with mixed media but the local art store has a limited variety of books and it is easier to get this one. My next post will be about the use of gesso in sketchbooks and how this can in some cases solve the problem of bleeding pages. By the way Moleskine sells a watercolour sketchbook but I haven't tried this.
It's personal preference,
I have completed 2 Leuchtturm1917 in the A5 format but A4 but feels too big for me and is only half complete, whereas the A6 I got as a present a couple of years ago doesn't seem to get used. There are choices of sketchbooks between landscape, square or portrait formats, what you choose is personal. Thankfully we all have preferences, what is yours?
How do you work?
Knowing how you will use the sketchbook before you buy one will in the long run be helpful. I tend to use all kinds of media in my books therefore have to take this into consideration. There are sketchbooks that are made especially for wet media or watercolour and those that cope with markers better than others. If you stick things into your book take this into consideration too, can it cope with getting thick without falling apart?
You can make your own sketchbook
For some people this is the ideal solution, it means that you get the weight, size and paper quality you want, plus you can blend the paper types if you wish. Or if you are nervous about ruining a page then making your own with loose paper and binding it together either with rings or a proper binding (there are plenty of youtube videos on this) could be the answer.
I've used a variety of sketchbooks over the years and I've only only written about a few of my personal experiences here, for a really good comprehensive blogpost please look here - Tips on choosing a sketchbook for drawing, journaling or watercolour on the excellent Parka Blog.
Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below :)