Etchr Sketchbook

Posted : admin On 1/25/2022

Description This 44-page sketchbook is vegan friendly and uses 300g acid-free, artist grade, 100% cotton cold press paper. It opens flat and has a landscape format. Case bound and glue reinforced. Etchr Lab's Perfect A4 Sketchbook is, well, the perfect sketchbook! Designed by artists, it's filled with 100% cotton rag cold press watercolor paper that can be painted on both sides. Ideal for watercolor, drawing, pen and ink, mixed media, and more.

Sketchbooks for Watercolour

​There are many sketchbooks on the market and it is often quite a difficult task to choose one that is suitable for your needs.
I paint mini paintings in my sketchbooks - detailed studies of leaves, flowers, fruit, landscapes, buildings or whatever - so I look for sketchbooks that will accept watercolour washes well. I favour cold pressed, with medium texture, over rough or smooth. But my books need to cope with pencil and fountain pen lines too.
I'll show a number here that I have tried to give some guidance. You will also find some great advice on Liz' blog post 'How to choose a sketchbook' here. As she works fast and I work slowly with more detail, our choices are different - I love 100% cotton and she prefers 25% cotton - so both opinions may be helpful in finding a sketchbook to suit your style and needs. Interestingly, we both enjoy the Stillman & Birn Alpha paper. I have filled more Alpha sketchbooks, in various shapes and sizes, than any other.
This overview includes, in no particular order
  • Hahnemühle Watercolour Books
  • Stillman & Birn Alpha (See also my blog post from 2014 here)
  • The Perfect Sketchbook Indiegogo books - A6 and B5
  • Etchr Lab sketchbooks
  • Winsor & Newton watercolour books
  • Global Handbook watercolour books
  • Moleskine (see also my blog post from 2014 here)
  • Stillman & Birn Nova
  • Stillman & Birn Beta
  • Stillman & Birn Zeta
  • Koval Pro Sketchbooks
  • Strathmore Mixed Media 500
  • Canson All-Media
  • Laloran
  • SM.LT

I've created a template that I've drawn into each so I can compare the way the watercolour paint moves on the surface, how it granulates, how easy it is to control, how quickly it dries and so on. You can also see a direct comparison of these swatch samples on my blog here.

Hahnemühle Watercolour Books

Hahnemühle Watercolour sketchbooks in A6 portrait format, A5 landscape format and A4 landscape format.
Paper information for the Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
I first had a chance to try this watercolour sketchbook early in 2018, and I really liked the bright white paper, called Natural White. It is acid free 200gsm weight paper and the A5 contains 30 sheets, which is 60 pages using front and back. There is a slight grain to the cold pressed surface but it takes pen and pencil really well. It can be a bit of a challenge to get a really smooth wash with watercolour, but granulation shows up nicely.
Etchr Sketchbook
First page in the A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book - my Herring travel palette painted out. I do a paint-out of my one of palettes at the start of each sketchbook as it's a great way to see how the colours work on the paper.
Sketch in the A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book, using just three colours.
The dark grey fabric hard cover is really nice to feel, and being a dark colour it resists dirt and is easy to wipe clean if it does get a spill.
The book opens flat so it's easy to do wide panoramas across two pages. It doesn't have a back pocket, as many do, but it does have a a strong elastic closure which helps protect it in a bag, and a bookmark.
It is available in a range of sizes including A4 Portrait, A5 Portrait or landscape, A6 portrait or landscape and three zigzag sizes. Here is an affiliate link to the A5 Landscape at
I like this sketchbook. It is well bound, with a practical cover. It comes in a good range of sizes and layouts, has decent watercolour paper and behaves fairly well with washes.

Stillman & Birn Alpha Mixed Media sketchbooks

Stillman & Birn make a huge range of sketchbooks in various shapes, sizes, covers and paper weight. I wrote about Stillman & Birn in my blog in 2014 here and showed a number of samples of the many papers available then. The range has grown, with Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta and various Nova books now available in an even larger range of hard or soft covers in many shapes and sizes. I want to concentrate on the Alpha first.
Some of my Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbooks in various sizes.
Cover paper for the 8' x 10' Alpha softcover sketchbook. I always cut the wrapping information and glue it into the back or front of each sketchbook so I can check the technical details.
As you might guess from the photo above of just some of my Alpha sketchbooks, my favourite Stillman & Birn is the 150gsm Alpha, which is a bit of a surprise as it is not, strictly speaking, a watercolour sketchbook. However it is designed for 'dry media, light washes, ink' and works very well for these.
I have used many of them as my 'play' books, where I test colours, do quick sketches, create demonstrations while teaching, take notes and so on. The Alpha comes in so many shapes and sizes that it takes some thinking to decide which to get. I have used a number of the 9' x 6' portrait hard cover books, as they are a good size for transporting and they have a lot of pages - 62 sheets (124 both sides). I've also enjoyed the larger 8' x 10' portrait soft cover book, with 46 sheets (92 pages) for workshop demonstrations and larger test pages. I have a pocket version that I've used as a portable notebook and I've used a number of the spiral 10' x 7 ' landscape books with 50 sheets (100 pages). There is a new square format that I have yet to try.
While not perfect for more completed watercolour studies, I find the Alpha books to be a great everyday paper, and I like the fact that you get lots of pages to play with.
The paper for the Stillman & Birn sketchbooks is made by the Schut paper devision of Clairefontaine. In October 2019, Stillman & Birn was acquired by Clairefontaine Rhodia. I have always liked the paper from both those ranges as it is very fountain pen friendly. It would seem to be a good 'marriage' and apparently nothing will change in the Stillman & Birn paper or bindings.
Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook page with paint-outs of some 9-colour palettes. the granulation of the pigments is lovely.
A study in Chicago, Alpha paper, watercolour, pen and gouache.
You can see that there is some warping of the paper, which is really to be expected with a 150gsm sketchbook. However I don't mind it. If you don't use too much ink there is very little show-through so you can happily paint on both sides of the paper. The books open pretty flat. They don't have a back pocket or an elastic closure.
I find these great sketchbooks for exploration, play, notes, and all the little things that seem more appropriate to do in a sketchbook rather than in my diary/notebook.
Stillman & Birn Alpha watercolour sketchbook sample swatches.

The Perfect Sketchbook B5

The 200gsm original The Perfect Sketchbook B5 painted swatches.
I have fallen in love with materials only to see them discontinued or changed, so when I find something I really like, I tend to stock up. The Perfect Sketchbook B5 was such an item. It was created by Erwin Lian in conjunction with Bynd Artisan bookbinders and I bought quite a few when it was released as a Indiegogo crowd funding campaign in 2015. I bought more when it was re-released in 2017 with a limited edition of 900. This really is my perfect sketchbook and I love that it was created through the passion of an individual.
These are 200gsm 100% cotton paper - Fabriano Artistico - sized on both sides. It is case bound, reinforced with ribbon and glue. The pages are hand torn with a deckle edge and the paper grain is parallel to the binding on each page. The cover is recycled leather with a minimum of 70% cowhide fibers.
The B5 size is a really portable and flexible format. It fits into my handbag and opens to a manageable size. I've used six of my stock so far and just love them.
I've painted out my favourite 12 Urban Sketching colours on the paper, and shown it here. (left) Many of my sketches in these sketchbooks appear in the Plein Air Sketches section of this website.

​Etchr Lab and The Perfect Sketchbook

EtchrI was delighted that the Perfect Sketchbook project moved to Etchr Lab, and they have released a range of sketchbooks that make high quality watercolour sketchbooks available on a regular basis. They have released a number of 100% cotton watercolour sketchbooks available world wide from their website here.
  • The premium sketchbook is The Perfect Sketchbook Signature series #1 - a 300gsm Fabriano Artistico B5 sketchbook. (22 sheets/44 pages). Case Bound and burnt sienna PU cover. This looks the same as the original B5 version, but with heavier 300gsm paper and a vegan friendly cover. This beautiful sketchbook was created in a limited edition of 600 but I hope it will reappear, perhaps in the 200gsm Fabriano paper as well, as it is an extraordinary book suitable for our precious watercolour sketches and paintings.
The Perfect Sketchbooks landscape A4 and A5 by Etchr Lab.
  • The next range is The Perfect Sketchbook, which is available inA4 Landscape with 300gsm acid free artist grade 100% cotton cold pressed paper (22 sheets/44 pages). Case Bound, glue reinforced and has a Grey PU cover, shown left.
  • It is also available in the smaller size - The Perfect Sketchbook A5 Landscape with 300gsm acid free artist grade 100% cotton cold pressed paper (44 pages). Case Bound, glue reinforced and Grey PU cover, shown right.

​These books are beautifully made. They have a bookmark, an elastic clusure and pocket in the back. They open flat, so it is easy to paint across the double page spread, and are gorgeous to paint in.
The cold pressed paper has some grain on both sides but takes pencil and pen nicely.

Painted swatches in The Perfect Sketchbook A4 Landscape book.
Etchr Sketchbooks A4 and A5 landscape, Cold pressed paper.

​The next range is the Etchr Sketchbook range. These are available in hot pressed (smooth) 220gsm paper or cold pressed (textured) 230gsm paper.

  • Etchr Sketchbook A4 Landscape with 230gms acid free artist grade 100% cotton paper. Cold Pressed (52 pages). Open Flat with white cotton cover. (shown top)
  • Etchr Sketchbook A5 Landscape with 230gms acid free artist grade 100% cotton paper. Cold Pressed (52 pages). Open Flat with white cotton cover. (shown bottom)
  • Etchr Sketchbook A6 Landscape with 230gms acid free artist grade 100% cotton paper. Cold Pressed (52 pages). Open Flat with white cotton cover. (not shown)

​The paper in this series is whiter than the Signature or the Perfect Sketchbook range. It is also more textured.
Painted swatches on the Etchr sketchbook 230gsm cold pressed paper.
These is also the smooth or hot pressed books and A4, A5 and A6. I don't tend to like using smooth paper for watercolour so haven't bought any of these.
  • Etchr Sketchbook A4 Landscape with 220gms acid free artist grade 100% cotton paper. Hot Pressed (52 pages). Open Flat with white cotton cover that can be painted.
  • Etchr Sketchbook A5 Landscape with 220gms acid free artist grade 100% cotton paper. Hot Pressed (52 pages). Open Flat with white cotton cover.
  • Etchr Sketchbook A6 Landscape with 220gms acid free artist grade 100% cotton paper. Hot Pressed (52 pages). Open Flat with white cotton cover.
The sketchbooks are not cheap, but they are lovely to use and wonderful for those of us who enjoy working on 100% cotton watercolour paper. See them at (Please note - this is not an affiliate link (I will always state if they are) but I really want to make sure that high quality products get seen.

Winsor & Newton Visual Journal

Winsor & Newton have created a range of 100% cotton watercolour sketchbooks in various sizes. The paper is cold-pressed acid-free, and they contain 20 sheets (40 pages).
The paper has a nice feel to it, with a fairly smooth surface for a cold-pressed paper. It takes watercolour nicely. It is also smooth enough to be able to draw or write with fountain pen or pencil with ease. The books don't have a back pocket or elastic closure, but open flat.
  • hardbound watercolour A4 Portrait 300gsm (dark blue cover)
  • hardbound watercolour A5 landscape 300gsm (dark blue cover)
  • Softcover watercolour A5 landscape 300gsm (dark blue cover)
  • Softcover Watercolour A4 portrait 300gsm. (dark blue cover)
  • Hardbound interleaven tracing paper journal A4 Portrait (black cover)
  • Hardbound interleaven tracing paper journal A5 Portrait (black cover)

I really like painting in 100% cotton paper as you have more time to move the pigments around. These books work well.

Global Handbook Watercolour Sketchbook

Handbook Journal Co sketchbooks from Global Art Materials in A5 Large Landscape and Square formats.
These sketchbooks bothered me for a while as they have a very light grey natural linen fabric cover which I thought would be filthy in no time. However I've had a couple and they've survived handling pretty well. They come in a good range of shapes and sizes, including A5 Large Landscape format (shown left), a similar sized portrait format, the 8¼' x 8¼' square (shown left), a cute 3 ⅓' x 8 ¼' Pocket Panorama, and a larger 10½' x 8 ¼' Grand Portrait format.
All have 30 sheets (60 pages using both sides) and there is a plastic sleeve for storage at the back, a bookmark and a strong elastic closure. The books open out flat so it is easy to paint across the gully, and watercolour behaves nicely on the paper. The paper is 200gsm soft-white acid free with a cold pressed finish.
These are a good option but the paper in not identical on both sides which needs to be adjusted to when painting.
The Global Handbook Journal Co A5 landscape large watercolour book with my Herring travel palette painted out.
Global Handbook Watercolour Sketchbook sample swatches.

Moleskine Watercolour Notebook

Original Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook sample swatches.
Painted swatches in the 2nd edition of the Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook.

Etchr Perfect Sketchbook

When I first began using the Moleskine Watercolour Notebook in 2009, I just loved the paper and the way that watercolour behaved on it. They were available in landscape format in A6, A5, A4 and A3 sizes. Here is my post about them from 2014. I used a number of them over the next few years before the paper supplier changed and the books were not the same. I understand they have been revamped again. I haven't tried the most recent products, though they are now available in Portrait format.

​Stillman & Birn Nova sketchbooks

The Nova books are available in grey, beige and black, and in spiral (wirebound) or soft cover in a range of sizes. They are toned paper but can be used with opaque watercolour, gouache and other more opaque mediums so I am including them here.
The Nova Trio was released to include all three colours in the one book. It comes with three separate blocks of colour but I took a spiral-bound one apart, mixed up the pages, and put it back together to have a more random book.
The paper is 150gsm, like the Alpha and Gamma, but takes light washes. I don't plan to do my watercolour paint-out on it.

Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbooks

Sample painted swatches on Stillman & Birn Beta paper.
The Beta books come in a great range of shapes and sizes - it's one of the great features of Stillman & Birn that if you find a paper you like, you can get it in so many different formats.
This is 270gsm cold pressed paper with a fairly bright white cold pressed surface. It is one of the smoothest cold pressed, like the Winsor & Newton there is little obvious grain.
I don't like to say this, as I really like Stillman and Birn as a company, but I am not a fan of this paper as I feel that the watercolour is hard to control on it, especially after the first wash. So I only use it for quick sketches or detailed pen and ink work rather than detailed watercolour. For serious watercolour sketches and studies there are nicer papers shown above.

Etchr Sketchbooks

Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbooks

Stillman & Birn Zeta square soft-cover sketchbook.
Sample painted watercolour swatches in Stillman & Birn Zeta paper
The Stillman & Birn Zeta is a 270gsm white smooth surfaced paper. I've shown it here in the lovely 19cm square format that was introduced in 2019. I find I have to work much faster on this paper when adding watercolour, but I personally ​prefer a cold pressed surface. It is gorgeous for ink and for pencil.

Koval Watercolour Sketchbooks

I hadn't heard of this range at all until I was sent a sample, but it's worth seeing the Pro range here. And the rest of the range is well worth checking out here
Koval is registered in Poland, but ships everywhere. The sketchbook workshop was started by Tomasz Kowal, who created the original prototypes in a search for his own perfect sketchbook for professional work. Once again, the search for a personal book has led to a wonderful creation that is worth sharing and supporting.
The Koval Sketch Book Pro Space Series - with image from
I was sent the Pro 100 Space Edition, which is hand made with 100% cotton cold pressed 300gsm extra white paper Fabriano Artistico paper. It comes in a choice of covers - Jupiter Gold, Silver Moon and Titanium Black, in keeping with the space theme. It comes with a matching elastic closure. There isn't a bookmark or back pocket, but, like many of these great sketchbooks, the books are designed so the beautiful paper goes end to end - including inside the front and back covers.
The paper is lovely - whiter than the natural white of the Perfect Sketchbook and Etchr Lab Signature books. They also have sketchbooks in natural white, 50% cotton, 200gsm, landscape, square and portrait formats.
​I want to particularly bring attention to this amazing book - the 25cm square 'Sketchilla' 300gsm 100% cotton sketchbook. Wow!
The Koval Skethilla, with image from

Strathmore Mixed Media 500 series Art Journal

Strathmore MIxed Media 500 Series sketchbook sample page.

I was given a 7.75' x 9.75' portrait 500 Series Strathmore mixed media journal during a visit to San Francisco in 2015. It is 190gsm paper, 100% cotton, acid free. It is a smooth surface on one side and a very slight tooth on the other. It is wonderful for pencil and ink, and takes watercolour nicely. Mine is a soft cover so it is relatively light and quite a good size to carry around - rather like a B5.
I've used this book for quicker studies and demonstrations rather than for 'best' - probably due to the soft cover. It just makes a sketchbook more casual. However I think it is good enough to be used for more than that. It is certainly a paper to try if you do a lot of pen or pencil drawing with some wash.
I always cut up the information label when I get a new sketchbook and paste it into the front or back of the book so I can easily check the paper weight and details - this is a scan of my soft cover label. It's a very useful step to have taken as I have tried so many sketchbooks!
The label of my Strathmore Mixed Media soft-cover sketchbook.

Canson All-Media

The label from my Canson All-Media spiral bound sketchbook, which is pasted into the inside front cover of the book.
I've used a large spiral Canson All Media sketchbook as my works in progress Visual Arts Process Diary. I find it's better than a bound book for pasting in cards, photos or scans of works in progress. However I like to be able to paint directly into the book as well. The paper is 185gsm acid free. There is slightly more texture on one side than the other but it is not a rough surface at all.

Laloran Sketchbook

The XL Square format Laloran Sketchbook, from
These books are hand made in Portugal with 180gsm Clairefontaine Dessin à Grain paper. I bought an Extra Large Square - a great format - to test it out. I went for the red but the orange is lovely and a range of colour options are offered. The grain is similar to Stillman & Birn Alpha paper but the heavier weight makes this a lovely choice for pen and watercolour sketches.
You can see more of the range here, or purchase here.

The Perfect Sketchbook A6

Etchr Sketchbook
This beautifully made book was an Indiegogo crowd-funded project. The 100% cotton paper is cold pressed with a slight variation between the front and back of the paper. It's a very high quality pocket watercolour sketchbook for US$30.

SM.LT Art Watercolour #authenticbook

This was given to me at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Amsterdam, and is created by an interesting company. It is 280gsm acid free paper but only 12 sheets (24 front and back) so very light weight and portable. Although described as rough on the website, the paper has a smoother cold pressed vellum like surface - similar to the Stillman & Birn Alpha, the Strathmore and the Laloran. Great papers so those who work with a lot of fine lines, fine pens, or pencil detail as well as watercolour. Find out more about this interesting company here.
SketchbookOther sketchbooks to consider - I haven't tried these but they have been recommended by other sketching friends.
  • Arkademie - Made in Singapore and gorgeous leather covers. Read more here.
  • Pentalic - offer a range of sketchbooks for watercolour sketches. More detail here.
  • SPD Sketchbooks - made in Singapore in a sheltered workshop. See more here Books can be custom made, using your own paper.
  • Khadi Papers - hard and soft cover available, made in India. More information here

1> альбом для зарисовок; этюдник
2> записная книжка, блокнот писателя
3> очерки, заметки, записки (в названиях книг)
_Ex: 'The Irish S.' by Thackeray 'Ирландские заметки'

Etchr Sketchbook Review

Новый большой англо-русский словарь. 2001.

Смотреть что такое 'sketchbook' в других словарях:

  • sketchbook — UK [ˈsketʃˌbʊk] / US or sketchpad UK [ˈsketʃˌpæd] / US noun [countable] Word forms sketchbook : singular sketchbook plural sketchbooks Word forms sketchpad : singular sketchpad plural sketchpads a book with blank pages (= with nothing printed on… … English dictionary

  • Sketchbook — Sketch book , n. A book of sketches or for sketches. [1913 Webster] … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sketchbook — (also sketch pad) ► NOUN ▪ a pad of drawing paper for sketching on … English terms dictionary

  • sketchbook — [skech′book΄] n. 1. a book of drawing paper for making sketches 2. a book of literary sketches: Also sketch book … English World dictionary

  • Sketchbook — A sketchbook is a 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. [ Sketchbook, Wiktionary entry, accessed… … Wikipedia

  • sketchbook — [[t]ske̱tʃbʊk[/t]] sketchbooks also sketch book N COUNT A sketchbook is a book of plain paper for drawing on. Syn: sketchpad … English dictionary

  • sketchbook — noun Date: 1820 a book of or for sketches … New Collegiate Dictionary

  • sketchbook — /skech book /, n. 1. a book or pad of drawing paper for sketches. 2. a book of literary sketches. Also, sketch book. [1810 20; SKETCH + BOOK] * * * … Universalium

  • sketchbook — noun a) A book or pad with blank pages for sketching; a sketch pad. b) A book of printed sketches … Wiktionary

  • sketchbook — Synonyms and related words: air brush, art paper, best seller, book, bound book, brush, camera lucida, camera obscura, canvas, chalk, charcoal, classic, coloring book, crayon, definitive work, drawing paper, drawing pencil, drier, easel, fixative … Moby Thesaurus

  • sketchbook — sketch book [ sketʃ,buk ] or sketch pad [ sketʃ,pæd ] noun count a book with BLANK pages (=with nothing printed on them), used for drawing … Usage of the words and phrases in modern English


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