Best Sketchbooks 2021

Welcome to the our buying guide for the Best Sketchbooks for 2021. Purchasing a high quality sketchbook is a great investment. It’s an important decision and one that can have a huge impact on your work. For example, a sketchbook with heavier, thicker paper is more likely to be suitable for artists using watercolors and markers, whereas lighter paper is a better choice for dry media. 

The ‘tooth’, or texture of the paper is also an important consideration. Paper with more tooth has more pits and grooves to hold pigment from charcoal and pastels, while smoother paper is more suited to your best pencils and inks. A spiral-bound sketchbook will lie nice and flat while you work, whereas some hard-bound sketchbook may be trickier to use. 

For sketching on-the-go, a smaller hard-cover sketchbook will serve you well, fitting into a bag or pocket and protecting your work, whereas large-format sketchbooks will give you more space and freedom. If you could use a new sketchbook, we encourage you to obtain one and view it as an invaluable investment towards your artistic endeavors. With all that in mind, here’s our pick of the best sketchbooks to make you a better artist – however you like to work.

best sketchbooks 2021

01. Moleskine Art Collection Sketchbook

The best sketchbook overall is a great traveling companion.

The Moleskine Art Collection Sketchbook is ideal for sketching on the move, and wins our vote for best sketchbook overall. This is the larger of the two sizes, giving you plenty of room to work, but it’s still convenient for carrying thanks to its elastic closure, which keeps it neat in a bag, and rounded corners that won’t become bent. Its ivory-colored paper is quite smooth, but with enough tooth for most dry media. With 240 pages, you won’t need to worry about filling it up too quickly, but the price is so reasonable that it wouldn’t matter if you did.

Size: 5 x 8.25 inches | Book type: Hard-bound, portrait | No of pages: 240 | Paper weight: 121lb

Take a Look: Moleskine Art Collection Sketchbook

best sketchbooks 2021

02. Leda Art Supply Premium Sketchbook

The best sketchbook for beginners is perfect for practicing.

If you’re new to sketching, this superb all-rounder will serve you well as you learn and progress, and is inexpensive enough to use for everyday practising, wherever you are. The Leda Art Supply Premium Sketchbook is a little smaller than A4 size, enabling it to fit neatly into most folders and bags. Its cover is waterproof to protect your work on the move, though it’s worth noting that it’s flexible, so you’ll need a hard surface to support it. Despite being thread-bound, it lies just as flat as a spiral-bound notebook, and its cream-colored pages have micro-perforations for easy removal.

Size: 7×10 inches | Book type: Hard-bound, portrait | No of pages: 160 | Paper weight: 81lb

Take a Look: Leda Art Supply Premium Sketchbook

best sketchbooks 2021

03. Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad

The best sketchbook for professional artists is a delight to use.

Strathmore’s specialist papers are made with specific uses in mind, paying careful attention to color, absorbency, weight and texture. For professional artists, the Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad is one of the best sketchbooks around, with a fine tooth that carries graphite, coloured pencils and pastels well. This is the smallest pad, but it comes in a wide range of sizes (all the way up to 18 x 24 inches) if you need more space to work. This top quality general purpose pad is ideal for structural sketches, though the price per sheet means it’s probably a little too expensive for practising.

Size: 9 x 12 inches | Book type: Spiral-bound, portrait | No of pages: 50 | Paper weight: 60lb

Take a Look: Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad

best sketchbooks 2021

04. Canson Artist Series Watercolor Pad

The best sketchbook for watercolor won’t ripple or buckle.

Mixed-media pads can be useful, but they rarely perform as well as pads designed for specific tasks. The Canson Artist Series Watercolor Pad is made to made to withstand repeated washes. Its thick paper won’t ripple of deform as it dries, and there’ll be no bleeding. Each page is perforated, but Canson has factored that into the size, so you won’t lose an inch of paper when you tear a page out, as you do with many similar pads. This sketchbook works out quite pricey per page, but so thoughtfully designed, we think it’s well worth the extra outlay.

Size: 5.5 x 8.5 inches | Book type: Spiral-bound, portrait | No of pages: 20 | Paper weight: 140lb

Take a Look: Canson Artist Series Watercolor Pad

best sketchbooks 2021

05. Canson XL Marker Paper Pad

The best sketchbook for markers makes for easy tracing.

Another excellent wet media sketchbook from Canson, the Canson XL Marker Paper Pad provides 100 pages of thin, slightly translucent paper that’s quite unusual, but works well for sketching and tracing. The surface is smooth with little in the way of tooth, so you won’t need to worry about your markers snagging, and the ink won’t bleed through to the next page. The translucent paper means you’ll be able to see your sketches on the reverse, so you won’t be able to sketch on both sides, but there are enough sheets for this not to be an issue.

Size: 9 x 12 inches | Book type: Hard-bound, portrait | No of pages: 100 | Paper weight/type: 18lb

Take a Look: Canson XL Series Marker Paper Pad

06. Strathmore 400 Series Toned Tan Pad

The best sketchbook with toned tan paper will help you master values.

Toned sketchbooks are ideal for learning to use values, encouraging you to use a whole range and helping you achieve more realistic results. Strathmore also offers a gray toned pad, but we’ve picked the Strathmore 400 Series Toned Tan Pad as the best sketchbook because its warm color lends life to portrait sketches. The paper’s smooth texture works particularly well with colored pencils and graphite, though it carries all dry media well. If you’ve not used toned paper before then you might prefer a less costly pad at first, but Strathmore’s paper is a joy to use once you’re confident.

Size: 9 x 12 inches | Book type: Spiral-bound, portrait | No of pages: 50 | Paper weight: 80lb

Take a Look: Strathmore 412-9 400 Series Toned Tan Sketch Pad

07. Canson Artist Series Universal Sketch Pad

The best large-format sketchbook

Many sketchbooks are roughly A4-sized, but there’s no need to confine your work to such small spaces. This version of the Canson Artist Series Universal Sketch Pad is two feet long, giving you space to draw freely. Its paper doesn’t have much tooth, so it’s best for use with pencils and charcoal. The spiral binding lets it lie flat as you work, the hard cover provides protection and support, and each page is easy to remove for storage in a portfolio. Keep an eye out for multipacks of Canson sketchbooks, as these are often a good way to stock up.

Size: 18 x 24 inches | Book type: Wire-bound, landscape | No of pages: 35 | Paper weight: 65lb

Take a Look: Canson Artist Series Universal Sketch Pad

08. Pentalic Wire-Bound Sketch Book

The best pocket sketchbook is small but extra tough.

At the other end of the scale, we have the neat little Pentalic Wire-Bound Sketch Book, which is small enough to fit in a pocket, and tough enough to survive some rough treatment. Its hard cover prevents damage from everyday knocks and bumps, and its double wire spiral bounding resists bending. There are no perforations for tearing out pages, so this is better for exercises and rough work than pieces you want to keep in a portfolio. That’s fine by us, though, and its affordable price means we’ve no reservations about filling it. One of the best sketchbooks for any artist on the move.

Size: 4 x 6 inches | Book type: Spiral-bound, portrait | No of pages: 80 | Paper weight: 70lb

Take a Look: Pentalic Wire-Bound Sketch Book

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Best Sketchbooks for Designers

sketchbook is a book or pad with blank pages for sketching and is frequently used by artists for drawing or painting as a part of their creative process. The exhibition of sketchbooks at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University in 2006 suggested that there were two broad categories for classifying sketches:

Best Sketchbooks for Designers

  • Observation: this focuses on the documentation of the external world and includes many such travel and nature studies and sketches recording an artist’s travels.
  • Invention: this follows the artists’ digressions and internal journeys as they develop compositional ideas.


Types of sketchbooks

Sketchbooks come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with varied covers, and differing numbers of pages. Sketchbooks began as a way to provide a readily available supply of drawing paper in the convenient form of a book. Finish of the work found in the sketchbook varies widely from artist to artist, with some having very simple drawings and lots of notes, and some having highly worked images. Over time, it might allow others to see the artist’s progress, as their style and skills develop. Many artists personalize their sketchbook by decorating the covers. Sketches are sometimes removed from sketchbooks at a later date.

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Sketchbooks made out of high quality paper, differentiated by weight (referring to density of the sheets) and tooth (also called grain), allow for a wide variety of techniques to be used, ranging from pencil drawings, to watercolor, to colored pencil, to pen and ink, and so on. Certain paper characteristics might be more desirable for use with certain mediums. Sketchbook paper comes in a variety of tones, ranging from pure white, to cream, and includes less common varieties, such as gray.

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In displays of contemporary art, as well as historical retrospectives, intimate and ephemeral records are increasingly valued, resulting in the exhibition of sketchbooks alongside “finished” artworks.

Best Sketchbooks for Designers

Computer technology has allowed for the development of digital sketchbooks.

Best Sketchbooks for Designers

sketch (ultimately from Greek σχέδιος – schedios, “done extempore”[1][2][3]) is a rapidly executed freehand drawing that is not usually intended as a finished work.[4] A sketch may serve a number of purposes: it might record something that the artist sees, it might record or develop an idea for later use or it might be used as a quick way of graphically demonstrating an image, idea or principle.

Best Sketchbooks for Designers

Sketches can be made in any drawing medium. The term is most often applied to graphic work executed in a dry medium such as silverpointgraphitepencilcharcoal or pastel. It may also apply to drawings executed in pen and ink, digital input such as a digital pen, ballpoint pen, marker penwater colour and oil paint. The latter two are generally referred to as “water colour sketches” and “oil sketches“. A sculptor might model three-dimensional sketches in clayplasticine or wax.


Applications of sketching

Sketching is generally a prescribed part of the studies of art students.[5] This generally includes making sketches (croquis) from a live model whose pose changes every few minutes. A “sketch” usually implies a quick and loosely drawn work, while related terms such as studymodello and “preparatory drawing” usually refer to more finished and careful works to be used as a basis for a final work, often in a different medium, but the distinction is imprecise. Underdrawing is drawing underneath the final work, which may sometimes still be visible, or can be viewed by modern scientific methods such as X-rays.

Best Sketchbooks for Designers

Most visual artists use, to a greater or lesser degree, the sketch as a method of recording or working out ideas. The sketchbooks of some individual artists have become very well known,[4] including those of Leonardo da Vinci and Edgar Degas which have become art objects in their own right, with many pages showing finished studies as well as sketches. The term “sketchbook” refers to a book of blank paper on which an artist can draw (or has already drawn) sketches. The book might be purchased bound or might comprise loose leaves of sketches assembled or bound together.[6]

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Sketching is also used as a form of communication in areas of product design such as industrial design. It can be used to communicate design intent and is most widely used in ideation[7][8] It can be used to map out floor plans of homes.[9]

Best Sketchbooks for Designers

The ability to quickly record impressions through sketching has found varied purposes in today’s culture. Courtroom sketches record scenes and individuals in law courts. Sketches drawn to help authorities find or identify wanted people are called composite sketchesStreet artists in popular tourist areas sketch portraits within minutes.[5]

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