The 6 Best Watercolor Sketchbooks Reviewed

Michael Daly
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Do you enjoy spending hours doodling away, only to look up and realise that the art of your dreams is not coming out? Know that with the right process and the right supplies you can create the kind of art you see in your imagination.

While graphite pencils and coloured pencils are great for sketching out your initial ideas, one of the hardest parts of getting the look you want is having the right paper for your ideas to come alive.

If you are looking to capture your artistic vision, then the best pencil sketchbook for the job is the watercolor sketchbook. It takes a little bit more work and understanding of what you’re attempting to do, but the results can be well worth it. The best watercolor sketchbooks should allow you to shade, color, and blend for a finish you can be proud to show off.

Watercolor sketchbooks are the latest trends in the art market, and there are so many types available on the market that it can sometimes be hard to pick the right one for you. That is why we will review the best watercolor sketchbooks thoroughly so you can pick the right one for you.

NameCategoryProduct
Pentalic Art Watercolor JournalBest OverallPentalic Art Watercolor Journal
Canson Montval Watercolor BlockBudget PickCanson Montval Watercolor Block
Moleskine Art Watercolor AlbumUpgrade PickMoleskine Art Watercolor Album

1. Pentalic Art Watercolor Journal

Our rating: 9 / 10

Pentalic Art Watercolor Journal

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Pros:

  • 8-1/2-inch-by-11-inch, 48 page journal
  • Landscape journal
  • Very sturdy paper that doesn’t bleed
  • Natural pH and acid-free 300 GSM paper
  • Cold-press
  • Six signatures for a flat opening
  • Elastic brush holder
  • Elastic band closure with a storage pocket in back
  • Paper sourced from FSC certified mill

Cons:

  • Pages fall apart
  • Not for beginners
  • Poor binding

If you’re a complete beginner, this is not the watercolor journal for you. If you’re looking for some pages that can take quite a bit of water without ruining the paper, this is a good pick.

The Pentalic Art Watercolor Journal is great if you like drawing or painting on unlined pages or need a large book to paint in.

The paper isn’t the super thick acid-free variety, so it requires some practice to use safely.

2. Moleskine Art Watercolor Album

Our rating: 9 / 10

Moleskine Art Watercolor Album

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Pros:

  • Cold-pressed cotton-blend 200 g/m² paper
  • Can hold a large amount of water
  • Creates a realistic watercolor effect
  • Elastic closure
  • expandable inner pocket
  • Acid-free
  • 72 pages

Cons:

  • Paper blots badly
  • Poor binding
  • Not suitable for gouache or watercolors

Let’s take a look at the Moleskine Art Watercolor Album: The Moleskine Art Watercolor Album creates a realistic watercolor effect and can even be worked into many other designs. The paper is thin and durable enough to stand erasing light marks.

3. Travelogue Artist Watercolor Journal

Our rating: 8 / 10

Travelogue Artist Watercolor Journal

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Pros:

  • 200 GSM acid-free watercolor paper
  • 60 cold-pressed pages
  • Available in 5 artist-friendly formats
  • Perfectly bound to lay flat on a table
  • Perfect for professionals, students, or anyone else looking to learn the ins and outs of watercolor painting

Cons:

  • May be difficult for new artists to get started drawing
  • Users have reported that thick paint may bleed through pages that are not completely wet
  • Paint may bleed through pages
  • Can't hold plenty of water

The Travelogue Artist Watercolor Journal is a great starter artist journal. It has 72 pages at the standard size of 5.3 ” x 8.3 ”, which makes it perfect for getting started on your next watercolor creation.

The paper is thick and textured so that watercolors will spread more easily across the page. However, thick paint that is not diluted may spread through the paper and lower your color density.

4. Bellofy 100-Sheet Sketchpad Artist Pro

Our rating: 8 / 10

Bellofy 100-Sheet Sketchpad Artist Pro

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Pros:

  • 100 sheets for all your drawing needs
  • Micro-Perforated Pages
  • Mixed Media White Paper for Sketching, Painting, Pencil, Ink
  • Top Coil Closure (Right and Left-Handed Artists)
  • Thick, Smooth Surface
  • Recycled, Acid-Free
  • Suitable for beginners, students, and professionals

Cons:

  • Porous paper
  • Grey toned paper
  • Very thin pages

The Bellofy Artist Pro Sketchpad offers something that we don’t see all the time – flexibility. This sketchpad gives artists the ability to draw several different mediums, from watercolor to pencils. The paper is acid-free for longevity and durability.

This medium-sized sketchpad clocks in at 9 x 12” and has 100 sheets. It’s also lightweight. You can easily take it with you on the go and pull it out for a few quick sketches whenever you want.

5. Strathmore 483-5 Softcover Watercolor Art Journal

Our rating: 8 / 10

Strathmore 483-5 Softcover Watercolor Art Journal

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Pros:

  • Intermediate level paper
  • Suitable for all level artists
  • Natural white color and cold press surface
  • 140 lb. / 300 gsm
  • Cold Press surface
  • Velvety softcover

Cons:

  • Poor binding
  • Can't paint on both sides

The Strathmore 483-5 is a watercolor sketchbook from the famous Strathmore Paper Company. It has a European-sized page size, 8″ x 5.5″, which is convenient for both general sketchings and for artists working with a medium-small enough to hold in one hand, like charcoal or soft pastel.

This is acid-free paper ideal for pencil, charcoal, and soft pastel. It is ideal for watercolor when you do not need fine detail.

This is an excellent sketchbook for the price. If you need a great paper but aren’t sure about investing in higher-quality paper, this is a great investment.

6. Canson Montval Watercolor Block

Our rating: 8 / 10

Canson Montval Watercolor Block

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Pros:

  • French paper suitable for all wet media
  • Withstands scraping, erasing, and repeated washes
  • Mold-made pads
  • 15 sheets of 300 gram
  • Amazingly thick with no bleeding on paper
  • Very resilient against water
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Can't be used for wet on wet

Canson Montval is an ideal watercolor block for artists who like medium format and those new to painting. This cold-pressed watercolor paper ensures that your paintings come off the page with minimal bleeding for a watercolor artist.

The Canson Montval Watercolor Block is a professional quality watercolor paper from the Montval Line by Canson. It has been designed to be durable and holds up well with both wet and dry painting techniques. The acid-free sheets are also great for mixed media projects, including painting, collage, and printmaking.

The surface offers a good amount of tooth for wet on dry painting techniques, and the deep blocks are a welcome feature to keep large brushstrokes and splatter contained. This paper is quite a bargain for the price – it is of decent quality and is suitable for most watercolor projects.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the best watercolor sketchbooks?

When looking for the best watercolor sketchbooks, you need to consider a couple of things, the two main ones being the paper and the binding, and there is no point in getting a great watercolor sketchbook that’s falling apart at the seams; is there?
Another thing to look for is if the pages are designed to be removed so you can scan or take the pages home to work on.

What is the best quality watercolor paper?

When choosing the best quality watercolor paper, consider the type of watercolor paper you work with the most. If you are a beginner and are overwhelmed by all the different paper types, I would suggest starting with high-quality hot pressed watercolor paper. You will find that this paper type is explicitly made for watercolor and will most closely mimic watercolor paper that you would find in a watercolor painting class.

Most watercolor paper has been weighted with calcium carbonate, strengthening the paper and making it easy to handle thick watercolor washes. But, the drawback of hot-pressed watercolor paper is that it tends to buckle and warp in the corners after many uses. Therefore, if you are a severe watercolor artist who works on multiple watercolor paper pieces throughout the years, you might want to invest in rough or cold-pressed watercolor paper.

Which watercolor book brand is the best?

For those of you who are just starting out as watercolor artists, don’t worry about the brands. Start out by finding a book that’s good quality and within your budget.

After you figure out the brand, the best one for you will depend on what you want to get out of your art books. As you get more advanced you may want to upgrade your watercolor sketchbook to fit your needs.

Here are a couple things to think about when choosing a watercolor book:

  • Paper Weight Does your sketchbook open horizontally or vertically? (Vertical is always cheaper)
  • Is it bound? Larger sketchbooks with hard covers usually have better binding.
  • Is it one with a stiffer board to help you transport it? Or is it light and collapses for easy storage and transport?

The Strathmore Watercolor Art Journal and the Stillman & Birn Sketchbook are one of the best brands.

What is the best all-rounder sketchbook?

In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. Canson Mix Media Pad, in our opinion, is the best all-around sketch pad you can buy.

Conclusion

In this Watercolor Sketchbook review, we reviewed six famous watercolor sketchbooks and discussed their pros and cons. Now it comes down to your personal preference what suits your unique requirements.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Pentalic Art Watercolor JournalBest OverallPentalic Art Watercolor Journal
Canson Montval Watercolor BlockBudget PickCanson Montval Watercolor Block
Moleskine Art Watercolor AlbumUpgrade PickMoleskine Art Watercolor Album