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MeryArts Blog 5 Criteria How to choose your sketchbook?
5 Criteria How to choose your sketchbook

5 Criteria How to choose your sketchbook?

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How to choose your sketchbook?

Your sketchbook is a bit like your second brain.

It is a safe place where you can play with new techniques, experiment with different mediums, and think about your following painting subjects. Just that!

That is why I consider working with a sketchbook regularly to be an integral part of the design process and one of the best ways to find your artistic style.

But which sketchbook to choose?

With the abundance of models on the market, it can sometimes be challenging to find the one that suits you best.

If you are a beginner, you probably wonder which size of the notebook to favor, the type of paper, or even the ideal number of pages.

And why are some sketchbooks so expensive, while other models only cost a tenth of that?

The list of questions seems endless.

Do not panic! I am happy to present to you in this article 5 criteria to choose your sketchbook and find the one that suits you perfectly!

1. The size

One of the first criteria to take into account when choosing a sketchbook is the size.

My advice is: do not think about what size you think you must work. Instead, focus on the size of a notebook that inspires you and feels comfortable expressing your creativity!

Consider whether you will be using this notebook primarily at home or whether you will need to carry it with you regularly.

You do not want to have to lug around a big, heavy notebook everywhere, especially if you do not have a bag!

Still not sure how to use it? So, I recommend that you first go for an A5 format.

Indeed, it is a size comfortable enough to draw, and that fits easily in most bags. And if that turns out to be too small afterward, then you will know your next model needs to be a bit bigger!

2. The type of paper

A fundamental criterion!

Paper is the real stuff of your sketchbook. It is, therefore, a question of choosing it carefully, to meet your needs perfectly.

To help you in your decision, I reveal four significant characteristics to take into account when it comes to selecting the paper for your notebook:

  • The type of medium you are going to use.

Do you plan to use this notebook for pencil drawing? In ink? Or instead, paint watercolors?

The medium you use should match the paper perfect for the best results.

If, for example, you are addicted to lightly penciled sketches, a drawing paper will suit you very well.

However, if you plan to use your notebook primarily for painting, I recommend that you choose a model with a good paperweight.

  • Grammage.

The weight of a sheet of paper for painting is generally between 200 and 400 g / m2 and can go up to 640 g / m2!

It means you can apply paint with confidence without having to worry about the paper warping or curling.

Think of it this way: the more you plan to use wet techniques, the thicker the paper you need should be.

If your paper is too thin, you might have a very nasty surprise when the paintings you just made will slip through several successive sheets of paper and ruin your other sketches!

A sketchbook with a weight of around 100/110 g / m² is the ideal weight for a simple pencil or pen sketch.

  • Finishing.

I am talking about the texture of the paper here. Indeed, there are different finishes:

  • Fine and satin
  • Moderate, moderately rough texture
  • Coarse grain (you guessed it, this is a very textured and rough paper)

The finish of the paper determines to some extent, how your paintings look when dry. The more textured the paper, the more your paintings will have that characteristic roughness.

Also, think about the possibility of using a pencil or ink. You do not necessarily think about it, but more textured paper can eat away at excellent points, requiring you to sharpen your pencil constantly.

  • The color of the paper.

There are a wide variety of color options on the market for your sketchbook paper. And that is a perfect point!

You do not necessarily have to orient yourself towards a classic blank-leaf notebook.

Again, take the time to think about the mediums you plan to use. For example, white gel pens, pastels, charcoals, white watercolors, and even gouache show up brilliantly on darker or colored papers.

3. The orientation of the notebook

It may seem less important at first, but the orientation of your notebook dramatically affects the way you draw! It is therefore essential to think about it when making your choice.

There are horizontal sketchbooks that lend themselves very well to landscapes, while vertical notebooks are the best choice if you are working on portraits.

These are the most common but be aware that there are also square format models. It all depends on your preferences!

4. The binding and cover of the notebook

You have the choice of spiral binding, sewn, or glued. And I am sure you already have a preference!

Spiral notebooks have one advantage, potentially a significant problem from your perspective: pages can come off very quickly!

Some people greatly appreciate this freedom of separating the sheets to work on them individually, while it can be very frustrating for others.

Nothing could be worse than taking your notebook out of the bag and having the nasty surprise of seeing that some sheets torn off during transport.

The cover of your sketchbook comes into play when considering its durability and how you use it.

If you are more of the type to work with your notebook resting on your lap, the hardcover is ideal for serving as support, in addition to being resistant to the use of time.

5. The price

The price of a notebook often depends on the brand but also the quality of the paper selected.

Keep in mind that most of the time, your sketchbook is for you to practice!

Some artists choose a notebook that features the same paper they will use for their final work. It is indeed an excellent practice for mastering the behavior of painting and the brush technique. Thus, no unpleasant surprises when embarking on the creation of the painting. You know what to expect.

One problem encountered, and one that is not often thought of is that many artists sometimes find it extremely difficult to express themselves freely when using high-quality materials. The fear of “wasting” an expensive notebook can indeed add significant additional pressure.

No matter the price, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable using the notebook to develop your creativity!

And why not make your sketchbook? It is a fun activity that allows complete control of all the criteria discussed in this article!

And you, what type of notebook do you use? Please feel free to share your feedback and advice in the comments below!

See you soon,

On the contrary, the softcover makes it easier for you to put the notebook in a pocket as it weighs less. However, it is more fragile.

The decision is yours!

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