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The Best Sketch Book

Last updated on November 11, 2019

We looked at the top 10 Sketch Books and dug through the reviews from 67 of the most popular review sites including Bookauthority, Wiki EZ Vid, Architecture Lab, Atoya Reviews, My Sketch Gallery, Get Life You Desire and more. The result is a ranking of the best Sketch Books.

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DWYM is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Sketch Books

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall

Strathmore

400 Series Sketch Pad

Overall Take

Top-Quality PadWith this Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad you'll get 100 fine-tooth pages to practice, create and display your artistic talents.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus Parka Blogs, The Architect’s Guide, Spy, Creative Bloq, Architecture Lab, Hello Artsy and 2 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" The pages are perforated so you can tear them off if you want to."
Cons
"Customers advise against using the Strathmore for paint, whether it’s acrylics or watercolor."

illo Sketchbook

Premium 122lb Hardcover Notebook

Overall Take

Easily Shareable If you're searching for square pages that are easily shareable on social media, this illo Sketchbook Premium Hardcover Notebook is your best bet.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus Spy, Timo Weaver, The Pen Addict, My Modern Met. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" The sketchbook comes with 112 heavyweight pages and works with pens, pencils, inks, pastels, markers, and can be used with light watercolor paint. We also like that the book measures 8 inches by 8 inches, perfect for sharing square images..."
Cons
"My only complaint is the size. It's not that it's square, which I originally thought. It's just that it's too small of a square for me. 8 inches tall is not what I want out of a sketchbook, I usually..."

Pentalic

Sketch Book

Overall Take

Elegant BookUsing paper sourced from certified sustainable forests, this Pentalic Sketch Book is a great choice for those with a concern for the environment.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus The Architect’s Guide, Art Artists at Work, Top Best Review, Top Best Review, Architecture Lab, Geek Wrapped and 2 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" The sturdy, elegant cover features a leatherette texture and keeps your artwork and notes intact while providing a firm drawing surface."
Cons
"The pages do warp with wet media, and will bleed with alcohol-based markers, but Pentalic is clear that the book isn't designed for that."
  The Best Value

Arteza

Sketch Book, Pack of 3

Overall Take

Most AffordableWith a total of 300 pages, this Arteza Sketch Book, Pack of 3 will allow you to practice and master your craft in no time at all.

Experts Included
DWYM Crafts Experts plus Spy, Review Meta, Sam Be Awesome. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" The ARTEZA are the smallest sketchbooks on our list, making them ideal for traveling. The spiral bound notebook has perforated edges for easy removal and the thick, acid-free paper works with pens, pencils and pastels, boasting minimal bleed-through and fading."
Cons
"Hardcover, least for me. While it keeps the pages flat and more protected, I like easy access, and opening it up quickly was difficult."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
17

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the sketch books available to purchase.
10

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

67

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Bookauthority, Wiki EZ Vid, Architecture Lab, Atoya Reviews, My Sketch Gallery.

16,572

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff and 3 others.

Our experts reviewed the top 10 Sketch Books and also dug through the reviews from 67 of the most popular review sites including Bookauthority, Wiki EZ Vid, Architecture Lab, Atoya Reviews, My Sketch Gallery, Get Life You Desire and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Sketch Books.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad

Our Expert Score
0.0
8 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.4
1,823 user reviews
Our Take

With its fine-tooth surface and durable double binding, the Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad is one of the best sketch pads on the market. It accommodates a variety of mediums, including chalk, graphite pencils and charcoal. The pages also come perforated, so artists can remove and display their work later on.

What other experts liked
The pages are perforated so you can tear them off if you want to.
- Parka Blogs
February 3, 2017 | Full review
Strathmore supports environmental solutions that don't compromise paper performance, appearance, or price.
- The Architect's Guide
September 25, 2019 | Full review
Each page is perforated for easy removal and the durable book has a heavy chipboard backing that provides a sturdy surface.
- Spy
August 2, 2019 | Full review
Strathmore's specialist papers are made with specific uses in mind, paying careful attention to color, absorbency, weight and texture. For professional artists, the Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad is one of the best sketchbooks around, with a fine tooth that...
- Creative Bloq
July 3, 2019 | Full review
We also love the fact that we can tear off pages that we wish to hang or keep separately after we’re done with a project.
- Architecture Lab
March 5, 2019 | Full review
This is a good quality paper with a medium tooth. You’ll find it’s great for both your pencils, colored pencils and even some of your pen drawings.
- Hello Artsy
February 10, 2017 | Full review
This is the quintessential sketchpad, if you like to draw with dry media. Spiral bound with a soft cover, the 60-pound sheets of paper are perforated to allow you to tear out and frame later.
- My Modern Met
March 8, 2019 | Full review
Double binding is applied in order to enhance the durability of the book.
- Sewing Machines View
What other experts didn't like
Customers advise against using the Strathmore for paint, whether it’s acrylics or watercolor.
- Spy
August 2, 2019 | Full review
The price per sheet means it's probably a little too expensive for practising.
- Creative Bloq
July 3, 2019 | Full review
Sheets are very thin
- Architecture Lab
March 5, 2019 | Full review

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Arteza Sketch Book, Pack of 3

Expert Summarized Score
9.2
3 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.4
144 user reviews
Our Take

If you want the biggest bang for your buck, the Arteza Sketch Book, Pack of 3 is your best bet. The pads use acid-free paper designed to prevent bleeding. So, artists can experiment with everything from colored pencils to thick markers. The perforated pages also allow for easy removal. Users should take extra care when storing this sketch pad in a bookbag, as the soft cover is susceptible to tearing.

What other experts liked
The ARTEZA are the smallest sketchbooks on our list, making them ideal for traveling. The spiral bound notebook has perforated edges for easy removal and the thick, acid-free paper works with pens, pencils and pastels, boasting minimal bleed-through and fading.
- Spy
August 2, 2019 | Full review
Nice texture, worked great with everything I tested it with.
- Sam Be Awesome
March 3, 2018 | Full review
What other experts didn't like
Customers note that the ARTEZA are better suited for beginner artists and find that the flimsy cover means the book can easily be crushed in a backpack.
- Spy
August 2, 2019 | Full review
Hardcover, least for me. While it keeps the pages flat and more protected, I like easy access, and opening it up quickly was difficult.
- Sam Be Awesome
March 3, 2018 | Full review

Overall Product Rankings

1. Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad

Overall Score: 9.5
Reviews Included: 12

2. illo Sketchbook Premium 122lb Hardcover Notebook

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 5

3. Pentalic Sketch Book

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 10

4. Canson XL Series Mix Media Paper Pad

Overall Score: 9.3
Reviews Included: 15

5. Leda Art Supply Perfect Premium Sketch Book

Overall Score: 9.3
Reviews Included: 15

6. Arteza Sketch Book, Pack of 3

Overall Score: 9.3
Reviews Included: 4

7. Bellofy Sketchpad Artist Pro

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 11

8. Elans Journal Personalized Artist Sketchbook

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 3

9. Canson Artist Series Universal Sketch Pad

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 11

10. Master Class Art Premium Spiral Hardcover Sketchbook

Overall Score: 8.0
Reviews Included: 5

Our Findings

Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad

Best for Beginners

What We Liked: With its fine-tooth surface and durable double binding, the Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad is one of the best sketch pads on the market. It accommodates a variety of mediums, including chalk, graphite pencils and charcoal. The pages also come perforated, so artists can remove and display their work later on.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

illo Sketchbook Premium 122lb Hardcover Notebook

What We Liked: The illo Sketchbook Premium 122lb Hardcover Notebook features a hard cover made of leather. This not only protects the sketch pad from damage, but also provides an anti-slip coating to prevent you from accidentally dropping the book. The square design of the pad makes sharing your artwork a breeze on social media sites. As an added bonus, the pages are thick enough to use markers and watercolor washes.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Pentalic Sketch Book

Eco-Friendly Pick

Pentalic Sketch Book, Hardbound, 8-1/2-Inch by 11-Inch (Hardcover)


List Price: $14.49 USD
New From: $11.63 USD In Stock
Used from: $7.40 USD In Stock

What We Liked: Artists will love the elegant look of the Pentalic Sketch Book, which features a sleek black hard cover. It’s designed to lay flat for ease of use. Additionally, the company only uses paper that comes from sustainable forests. The only downside to this sketch pad is that it has less pages than many of its competitors, which means you’ll have to replace the pad more often.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Arteza Sketch Book, Pack of 3

What We Liked: If you want the biggest bang for your buck, the Arteza Sketch Book, Pack of 3 is your best bet. The pads use acid-free paper designed to prevent bleeding. So, artists can experiment with everything from colored pencils to thick markers. The perforated pages also allow for easy removal. Users should take extra care when storing this sketch pad in a bookbag, as the soft cover is susceptible to tearing.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Our Expert Consultant

Amy Markham   
Artist and art educator

Artist and educator Amy Markham is the creator of Starling, a podcast dedicated to helping artists develop depth in their creative practice. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, Amy has been an art educator since 2001. Today, she teaches middle school art at a school outside of Memphis, Tennessee. Her personal artwork explores myth-making and symbolic understandings. Through her brand, Starling Creative Living, she leads others to explore art production as a method for enriching their life experience.

Our Sketch Book Buying Guide

You never know when your next creative idea will strike, so it’s a good idea to have a sketch pad and drawing utensils handy. Not all sketch pads are created equal, however. So before you purchase one, you’ll want to take into consideration a few important features.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

First, determine whether the company producing the sketch pad takes measures to protect the environment. For example, the makers of the Pentalic Sketch Book only use paper created from certified sustainable forests. They prominently display a sticker with this information right on the front cover of the pad.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Next, decide whether you’d like the sketch pad to have a soft or hard cover.  Soft covers tend to come with a spiral binding, which allows you to quickly flip through the pages. But, they can also be susceptible to damage and tearing when placed in a bookbag. Hard covers protect the pages better, and if you opt for a leather cover, you’ll also enjoy the anti-slip surface.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Consider the shape of the sketch book pages. Traditional pads are rectangular in shape, but now artists have the option of buying square-shaped sketch pads, like the illo Sketchbook Premium 122lb Hardcover Notebook. The benefit to this shape is that it’s better for sharing pictures of the sketches on social media.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

The size of your sketchbook is also important. “Is it something you plan to carry with you and use on the go? If so, think about where it needs to fit,” says art educator Amy Markham. Her podcast “Starling” helps artists develop their creative process. “Will you carry it in a backpack, a purse or a pocket? Some people prefer to have a smaller sketchbook to carry around and a larger one for planning out ideas when they are at home.”

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Finally, you’ll need to think about what sort of paper is best suited to your needs. “If you are mainly using your book for pencil sketches and the occasional pen, then standard sketchbook paper will work. If you are using markers, inks or some light watercolors, opt for a mixed media paper,” says Markham.  “Sketch paper will not absorb wet media. If you know you are going to be painting often in your sketchbook, go for a watercolor paper sketchbook.”

Don’t forget to check the thickness, weight and absorbency of the pages as well. Thinner pages will leave press-through impressions on the pages behind them.

DWYM Fun Fact

The Oxford dictionary refers to a sketch as “a rough or unfinished drawing.”  Sketches were originally designed to give an artist a way to put their ideas down on paper. People sometimes refer to this as doodling. Later, the sketches would be used as a starting point to create the final masterpiece that the artist had in mind.

Today, however, creative minds often use sketch pads to create work of arts and not just rough drafts. The most commonly used medium for drawing in a sketch pad is the pencil. Did you know that just one lead pencil can create a straight line that is an astounding 35 miles long?

The Sketch Book Tips and Advice

  • Check to see if the company has a money-back guarantee policy. This isn’t necessary, but it does add a layer of protection in case the sketch pad doesn’t live up to your expectations.
  • You can frame your favorite sketches and give them away as gifts or use them to decorate your home. If the sketch pad page is not the same size as a traditional frame, you can take it to a craft store and have a custom frame made.
  • Sketching just a few minutes every day is a great way to improve your speed and accuracy.
  • You don’t have to confine yourself to using the sketch pad for drawings only. You can also write to-do lists in them, create calendars or documents your observations when bird watching. Another option is to use the pad as a visual journal, combining your written thoughts with important images that remind you about the day. If you travel, for example, you may wish to draw the Eiffel Tower and then write about the sites and sounds you experienced from the observation deck.
  • Keep your sketchbook away from any liquids. Accidental spills can ruin the pad’s pages.
  • When it comes time to compare sketch pad prices, you need to consider whether the book has a hard or soft cover. Sketch pads with a hard cover, like the illo Sketchbook Premium 122lb Hardcover Notebook and the Pentalic Sketch Book, command a higher price than those with soft covers, like the Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad. The Arteza Sketch Book, Pack of 3 contains multiple pads, so you’ll need to divide the number of pads by the total cost to determine the price per sketchbook.

About The Author

Alicia Bodine
Alicia Bodine 

Alicia Bodine is a New Jersey-based writer specializing in finance. With more than 15 years of experience, her work has appeared on leading financial publications. She's also a certified Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach.