The 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.

NameCategoryProduct
Pentalic Art Watercolor JournalBest OverallPentalic Art Watercolor Journal
Canson Montval Watercolor BlockBudget PickCanson Montval Watercolor Block
Travelogue Artist Watercolor JournalUpgrade PickTravelogue Artist Watercolor Journal

1. Pentalic Art Watercolor Journal

Our rating: 9 / 10

Pentalic Art Watercolor Journal

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Pros:

  • Very sturdy paper that doesn’t bleed
  • Wide range of blank pages
  • Has a plastic cover
  • Packaged in a plastic box

Cons:

  • Paper feels pricy
  • Not for beginners
  • Can’t fold in half

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 inter-leaved books are placed between two plastic covers.

The spiral binding allows you to fold the blank pages in half or in thirds. The Pentalic Art Watercolor Journal is great if you like drawing or painting on unlined pages or if you 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:

  • Creates a realistic watercolor effect
  • Water resistant
  • Acid free
  • 100 sheets of blank, reusable, high-quality European paper

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 are going to review the best watercolor sketchbooks thoroughly so you can pick the right one for you.

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:

  • Ideal for both beginners and professionals
  • Perfectly bound to lay flat on a table
  • Opaque quality paper that won’t show through
  • Has plenty of pages for several sketches
  • Luxurious feel with a suede-like finish cover
  • Dimensions: 5 ” x 8 ”
  • 100 sheets between textured watercolor paper and a sturdy 24 pt cover weight
  • 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

Inches, Black (100 Sheets, Sketchbook).

The Travelogue Artist Watercolor Journal is a great starter artist journal. It has 100 sheets of paper at the standard size of 5 ” x 8 ”, which makes it perfect for getting started on your next watercolor creation.

The paper is thick and textured, so 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
  • Acid-free quality for long lasting results
  • Pigment dyed paper for deep and vibrant colors
  • Ideal for everything from watercolor painting to simple sketching
  • Comes in a variety of sizes for big and small artists
  • Includes a pink cover for a feminine touch

Cons:

  • A little thinner than other sketch pads
  • Some colors are lighter than expected

Fine Art Journal for Student, Artist, Professional (Medium, Pink).

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, while the cover is made of vinyl for a smooth, soft finish. This pad comes in several different sizes.

This medium sized sketchpad clocks in at 9 x 12” and has 100 sheets. It’s also lightweight, weighing only 1.6 ounces. 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:

  • Made in the USA
  • Quality paper
  • Made of 100% cotton with no optical brighteners
  • Shipped from various manufacturers
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Good product for a great price
  • Good for watercolor and soft pastel
  • Folds back inside its own cover
  • Perfect size for traveling

Cons:

  • The paper needs to be glued together to lay flat
  • The acidity of the paper is high, so it might bleed if it gets wet

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

This is an acid free, 100% cotton 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:

  • Amazingly thick with no bleeding on paper
  • Very resilient against water.
  • Inexpensive
  • Does not crumble like other paper brands

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

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 even 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 a decent quality and is suitable for most watercolor projects.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the best watercolor sketchbooks?

When looking for the best watercolor sketchbooks, there are a couple of things you really need to consider, the two main ones being the paper and the binding, 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, remember to consider the type of watercolor paper you work with the most. If you are a beginner and are overwhelmed by all the different types of paper, I would suggest starting with a high-quality hot pressed watercolor paper. You will find that this paper type is made specifically 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 which strengthens the paper and makes it easy for handling 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 a serious watercolor artist that works on multiple pieces of watercolor paper throughout the years, you might want to invest in rough or cold press watercolor paper.

Which watercolor 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?

What is the best sketchbook?

In the end it all comes down to personal preference. In the chart below, we have identified our favorites for different age groups and different purposes.

Conclusion

In this Watercolor Sketchbook review, we will give an in-depth overview of watercolor sketchbooks and talk about how they differ from journals. We will also give you some tips for completing a watercolor sketchbook and some important information about these books.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Pentalic Art Watercolor JournalBest OverallPentalic Art Watercolor Journal
Canson Montval Watercolor BlockBudget PickCanson Montval Watercolor Block
Travelogue Artist Watercolor JournalUpgrade PickTravelogue Artist Watercolor Journal