sketchbook on table with designs and pen

10 Best Sketchbooks for Designers

Before you go to digital you should always start your designs on paper. It allows you to iterate faster and explore more ideas. After reviewing dozens of sketchbooks at the local art supply store, we have put together a list of our favorite ten.

1. Moleskine Art Sketchbook

Every great designer knows how important it is to keep a sketchbook. Practicing your skills every day is the only way to build on them and keep them top-notch. This is where a high-quality sketchbook like the Moleskine can help you out.

Features

The Art Sketchbook is part of Moleskine’s Art Collection that features excellent notebooks for different purposes, from writing down music notes to putting your creative design ideas on a piece of paper. It’s almost like a canvas you can take anywhere and sketch whenever you feel inspired.

These sketchbooks come in multiple sizes and colors and have hardcovers that make them more durable. You’ll enjoy sketching on the thick, ivory-colored paper that will live through your mistakes and won’t tear if you use an eraser. The texture is great for any type of pencils, ball pens, and fountain pens.

The inner storage pocket lets you take all the additional notes and documents with you. You can open the sketchbook at a full 180°, which allows your hand to move freely and create spectacular drawings with ease.

Pros

  • Thick acid-free ivory paper
  • Elastic closure band
  • Inner storage folder
  • Bookmark ribbon
  • Great for pens, markers, and dry media
  • More than 100 pages
  • Durable hardcover and rounded corners

Cons

  • Not suitable for watercolors or alcohol-based markers

2. Strathmore 400 Series

According to many designers, the Strathmore 400 Series of sketch pads is one of the best options for professional designers. However, their primary purpose is to allow you to sketch preliminary drawings and practice to improve your techniques, which is why this sketchbook is also excellent for beginners and design students.

Features

The Strathmore 400 Series sketchbook comes in 9×12-inch size and with an artsy cover in different colors. The paper is very durable and suitable for repeated erasing, such that it won’t tear no matter how many times you go back to fix the details on your drawing. The pages are micro-perforated and their actual size refers to the dimensions when taken out of the sketchbook.

These sketchbooks are wire-bound and suitable for a host of media: markers, graphite, and colored pencils, oil pastels, charcoal, and more. The binding also makes it easy to open and fold this sketchbook, which is particularly useful if you’re on the go.

Pros

  • Durable wire-binding
  • Interesting cover
  • Easy to open and fold
  • Great for a wide variety of media
  • Perforated pages for easy tearing
  • Durable acid-free paper with a fine-tooth surface
  • 200 pages (100 sheets)
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Watercolors can bleed though the paper

3. Pentalic Sketch Book

Pentalic sketchbooks are one of the best-rated on the market. If you’re green at heart, this environmentally-friendly sketchbook will win you over because the manufacturer sources the drawing paper from certified sustainable forests, such as reed or bamboo.

Features

This sketchbook is suitable for all dry media only, so you’d want to avoid watercolors. It comes in portrait orientation and one size of 11.1 x 14.1 inches. The hardcover is supposed to enable the sketchbook to stand upright on a shelf, while the binding is suitable for when you need to sketch a larger drawing.

The hardcover also has multiple benefits over the paperback. The support is better and you needn’t worry about your drawings folding or pages moving as you draw.

The sketchbook size is appropriate both for experienced designers and for beginners. It’s worth bearing in mind that you’re going to get a bigger page once you open the sketchbook, as you can use two pages for one piece of work.

Pros

  • Hardcover for better durability
  • 110 sheets (220 pages)
  • Lay-flat binding for better access
  • Sturdy binding for minimal page sliding or smearing
  • Acid-free 70-poud white paper
  • Eco-friendly

Cons

  • The binding could have been stronger
  • Not suitable for wet media

4. Canson XL Series

Here’s a multi-purpose sketchbook suitable for a number of techniques, with fine-textured paper and spiral binding for better flexibility. You can even draw with this pad in your lap if the occasion requires it.

Features

The Canson XL Series sketchbook comes in three sizes and is perfect for multiple media, graphite and color pencils, fine line and regular markers, watercolors, ink, and even acrylic paint marker. However, the manufacturer recommends pens, charcoal, and pencils for this particular sketchbook.

The heavyweight paper allows you to erase and fix your drawing or blend as much as you’d like without fear of the paper getting ruined. Its thickness is 50lb and it’s white. It’s also acid-free, which means your drawings will last a long time.

The double-wire binding makes the sketchbook easy to fold and use anywhere – you can basically stand and sketch. Your drawings will be protected by the hardcover, but you can also tear them out because the pages are micro-perforated and they stay their true size once they’re taken out.

Pros

  • Suitable for wet and dry media
  • Easy blending
  • Fine texture for easy erasing
  • Micro perforation and true size pages
  • Big paper dimensions
  • Strong tear-proof pages

Cons

  • Only 60 sheets

5. Leda Art Supply Sketchbook

The Leda Art Supply sketchbook is the perfect choice for those who are into creating art with graphite and colored pencils. The paper, which isn’t too thick or too thin, grabs whatever you scribble perfectly. This sketchbook also offers great value at a pretty affordable price.

Features

The LAS sketchbook comes in four sizes, each with 160 pages and a soft, flexible cover of PU leather. The leather front cover is water-resistant and weighs less than standard hardcover sketchbooks. It also has a back folder in which you can store loose papers. The covers are held together with a durable elastic band.

These sketchbooks work with pens, pastels, charcoal, ink, and pencils, but they may also be good for light watercolor techniques. The paper will typically hold up as long as you’re not experimenting with too much water. In general, you wouldn’t want to use more than one coat of paint with these.

However, the LAS sketchbook definitely shines when combined with colored pencils. The creamy paper color will emphasize the shades you’re using for your drawings.

Pros

  • Tear-resistant pages
  • Suitable for various types of media
  • All-weather cover
  • Convenient A5 size
  • Cream-colored paper for making colors pop
  • Lies flat for easy sketching
  • Dense, smooth paper with enough tooth

Cons

  • Not available with hardcover
  • Markers will bleed through

6. Masterclass Premium Sketchbook

The Masterclass Premium is a high-quality sketchbook that comes with a durable hardcover and wire binding that allows you to do whatever you want with it. This excellent sketchbook is recommended by professionals and will let you express your creativity in an enjoyable and easy way.

Features

This sketchbook comes in a size of 12 x 9 inches, which is reduced to 11×8.5 if you tear out a page. It’s done easily thanks to the perforation. There are 200 pages (or 100 sheets) of high-quality white 60lbs acid-free paper, wrapped in a hard black embossed leatherette cover, so you can use it wherever you are.

The paper texture is relatively light so it can endure lots of erasing as you try to improve your techniques. The paper is also acid-free so as to prevent bleed-through.

The Masterclass premium is perfect for all kinds of techniques: pens, markers, charcoal, graphite and colored pencils, pastels, crayons, etc. Courtesy of the spiral binding, the pad will open flat, making it easy for you to enjoy sketching.

Pros

  • Bleed-resistant paper
  • The paper prevents any media from smudging
  • A large number of pages
  • Great for multiple techniques
  • Sturdy and durable cover
  • Lies flat on a surface

Cons

  • Not suitable for watercolors
  • Paper might be too thin for some techniques

7. Bellofy Artist Pro Series

If your primary technique involves watercolors, most of the mentioned sketchbook won’t work, as good as they are for everything else. What you need it the Bellofy Artist Pro Series sketchbook, one of the top choices for wet media.

Features

Artist-approved and tastefully designed, the Bellofy is certainly one of the best reasonably-priced sketchbooks on the market. It’s got a hardcover and 100 sheets of high-quality drawing paper in A4 format. The paper is thick but has a smooth surface that allows for the use of all media – from charcoal to acrylic paint. You won’t need to deal with smudges, handprints, or stains with this high-absorption paper.

The perforated pages allow you to tear out pages easily and keep your drawing elsewhere. But, since the paper is acid-free, you can also keep them in the sketchbook and not worry about them getting damaged.

Another feature that makes this sketching pad truly unique is the fact that the manufacturer designed it for both left and right-handed artists. That’s why the Bellofy Artist Pro Series of sketchbooks have a top coil closure that doesn’t get in your way regardless of which hand you’re drawing with.

Pros

  • Great for wet media
  • Premium white drawing paper
  • Reduced blotching and smudging
  • Micro 1.8cm perforation
  • Adjusted for right and left-handed users
  • 100 sheets – 200 pages
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Markers might bleed though

8. Leuchtturm 1917 Sketchbook

This is one of the world’s most popular planner, sketchbook and notebook brands. Let’s take a closer look at the features that make these sketchbooks so great.

Features

The Leuchtturm 1917 sketchbooks are available in more than 10 colors and you can even opt to personalize it with your name or a quote on the cover when you place an order. You’d have to wait a bit longer for the delivery, though.

The paper is pure white and acid-free so it’s perfect for drawing in color. The cover is hard and thread-bound so the sketchbook opens flat and makes it easy to draw across two pages. Additional features include a labeling sticker that you can also use for archiving your drawings, a page marker, and a pocket for storing loose papers or other documents. The sketchbook is kept closed with an elastic band.

Pros

  • Available in three convenient formats
  • Hardcover
  • Lies flat on a surface
  • Sharpies won’t bleed through
  • Can be embossed
  • Multiple colors available
  • Suitable for many purposes

Cons

  • Only 96 pages
  • A bit pricey
  • Comic markers or darker colors might bleed through

9. Travelogue Drawing Book

This round-cornered sketchbook has a unique ability to adjust to what you like to draw. It’s available in 4 colors and 6 sizes and its primary purpose is for sketching on the go. If you’re working on large wireframe sketches we suggest a larger one. If you are just taking notes a smaller option will work just fine.

Features

Depending on what your interests are, you can opt for different formats and sizes this sketchbook comes in. From a square to pocket and large portraits and landscapes, the Travelogue sketchbook can cover all your needs. It has a hardcover, signature binding, and rounded corners, all of which make it extra durable.

The covers are kept closed by a durable elastic closure, and there are also some handy additions like an interior pocket and a bookmark. The interior label printed on the cover is where you can write down all the important details about what’s in the sketchbook.

There are 128 pages (64 sheets) of medium-tooth artist paper that can hold up against different techniques, such as ink, pen, pencil, markers, and even light watercolor.

Pros

  • Available in multiple formats and sizes
  • Heavyweight, high-quality buff-colored paper
  • Markers won’t bleed through
  • Durable elastic closure and cover
  • Interior label for easy identification
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Doesn’t work with acrylic paint

10. Art Alternatives Very Big Sketchbook

Art Alternatives Very Big Sketchbook really lives up to its name. It has hardcovers and 600 pages, which means you’ll be able to use it for quite a while. And the price isn’t too high a per page basis.

Features

The thick, high-quality paper allows different techniques, from charcoal and graphite pencil to fine liners and light watercolor, but you should be careful not to soak through the page. It’s acid-free so your artwork will be protected over a long period of time.

Despite its size, it lies flat and you should have no problem opening it to any page. Just be careful how you handle it as it’s quite heavy. Despite the higher entry price, you may find that it’s worth getting this one and not have to buy another sketchbook for a long time to come, what with the number of techniques supported as well.

Pros

  • 600 pages (300 sheets)
  • Makes a great gift
  • Keeps all your drawings in one place
  • Sustainably-sourced paper
  • Works with spray paint mist
  • Fineliners won’t bleed through

Cons

  • Might be inconveniently large
  • Darker colors might be visible on the opposite side

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Staff Writer DLC

Daily Logo Challenge staff writers focus on creating in-depth guides focusing on mastery of design and development. Let us know what you think in the comments section above.