|Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook sample page
|Global Handbook Watercolour Sketchbook sample page
Hahnemühle Watercolour Book
This paper is a natural white, acid free and has a fine grained texture on both sides. I think it is great for pencil and pen with smaller areas of wash, though a little more tricky if you want to create larger smooth washes. It comes in a range of shapes and sizes including new zig-zag formats.
|Hahnemühle Watercolour Book sample page
The original Moleskine watercolour notebook had wonderful 200gsm natural white paper, with the same cold pressed texture on both sides. I loved this paper when I first started using it in 2009. It took pen and pencil well and watercolour behaved very predictably on it.
|Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook (original) sample page
Moleskine Watercolour Notebook (2nd Generation)
This is 200gsm paper in the same natural white colour as the Hahnemühle and Global. It is 25% cotton, acid free. But is has quite a different texture on each side of the paper. I understand it has improved but I haven't tried the latest version. This sample is painted on the 'right' side.
|Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook (2nd generation) sample page
Stillman & Birn - Zeta
This is a smooth surfaced 270 gsm paper in a bright white. It is gorgeous for pen and pencil but you need to use watercolour very quickly to keep in under control. Personally I always prefer to use watercolour on cold pressed rather than smooth or hot-pressed papers, but many like the smooth surface. Excellent for pen or pencil work.
|Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook sample page
Stillman & Birn - Beta
This is a brighter white paper like the Alpha, but in a heavier 270gsm weight. While it is cold pressed with a surface that takes pen or pencil beautifully, you have to work quickly with watercolours so it is more difficult to control. It is best for single pass watercolour techniques and no fiddling.
|Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook sample page
Koval Sketch Book - Pro
This is 300gsm cold pressed, acid free, 100% cotton extra white Fabriano Artistico paper. Just lovely. It is very easy to control the watercolour washes and it shows the granulation of the pigments beautifully.
Hand made and really well put together, this is available in a range of sizes and shapes. They also make 50% cotton and 200gsm weight and include rough and smooth surfaces in the range.
This is a company well worth checking out. It was started by an artist looking for his own perfect sketchbook and ending up making them.
|Koval sketch Book Pro sample page
Winsor & Newton Watercolour Book
This is another 100% cotton, cold pressed 300gsm acid free sketchbook. It comes in a range of sizes and in hard or soft cover. Very easy to control, with a gentle grained texture so it takes pencil and pen well.
|Winsor & Newton Watercolour Book sample page
|Etchr sketchbook sample page
Etchr Lab - The Perfect sketchbook
Artist grade, 100% cotton, 300gsm Cold Pressed paper. This is a joy to use. The watercolour behaves with a high degree of predictability and control. The paper has a soft texture on both sides. It is a creamy white. Available in A5 or A4 landscape only. Hardcover, with a grey cover.
|Etchr Lab The Perfect sketchbook sample page
The Perfect Sketchbook B5 (Indiegogo 200gsm version)
This is the sketchbook I have been using since I received them in April 2016. It is Fabriano Artistico cold pressed 200gsm 100% cotton paper. It is a slightly cream white, which is my only criticism. I really enjoy using this sketchbook. It works beautifully for pencil or ink and gives tremendous control with traditional watercolour techniques. Lovely.
It is available in 300gsm from Etchr Lab as their Signature sketchbook.
|The Perfect Sketchbook B5 sample page
|Canson All Media sample page
I bought the Extra Large square Laloran sketchbook at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Amsterdam in July as I wanted to test out the lovely 21cm square format. It is made in Portugal from 180gsm Clairefontaine Dessin à Grain paper. These are hand made books with 96 pages (48 sheets). They have a fabric spine, which can be plain or a lovely hand made fabric from East Timor. Available in range of colours.
The grain is very similar to the Stillman & Birn, but heavier at 180gsm rather than 150gsm. The prices are excellent. See the range here.
|Laloran Square sketchbook sample page
This was the first collaboration between Erwin Lian and Bynd Artisan book binders. The paper is a cold pressed 190gsm 100% cotton watercolour paper. The book is beautifully made with a back pocket, bookmark and elastic closure. Though similar, there is a slightly more textured surface on one side of the paper than the other. This sample is the more textured side.
|The Perfect Sketchbook A6 sample page.
This is a 280gsm stitched sketchbook with a simple cardboard cover. The paper is 280gsm acid free, with an almost smooth surface though it is described as rough. I found I had to paint quickly to get an even wash, but the granulation shows up nicely. This is an interesting company - you can read more about them here. Made 'by caring hands in the centre of Europe' they were a sponsor of the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Amsterdam.
|SM.LT sketchbook sample page
Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media.
This is 190gsm paper, acid free and 100% cotton with a slight tooth that shows up the watercolour granulation nicely. It is a lovely surface for pen and pencil. I have a soft-cover 7.75x9.75 portrait format sketchbook, which is a useful size. I think I'd prefer a hard cover though - soft cover books always feel more casual.
|Strathmore 500 series sample page