Canson Artist Series Universal Sketch Pad

Last updated date: October 15, 2019

DWYM Score
8.7


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We looked at the top Sketch Books and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Sketch Book you should buy.

Overall Take

In our analysis of 74 expert reviews, the Canson Canson Artist Series Universal Sketch Pad placed 9th when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note November 11, 2019:
Checkout The Best Sketch Book for a detailed review of all the top sketch books.

Expert Summarized Score
8.4
7 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.4
1,007 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
The size of this sketchbook makes it perfect for drawing on-the-go. It can easily fit into most bags and purses.
- Get Life You Desire
This 6 pack of Universal Sketch pads from Canson is 65 lb. sketch paper, chlorine- and acid-free. The surface is ideal for all dry media.
- Infestis
January 21, 2019 | Full review
Perforated pages for quick removal
- Wiki EZ Vid
February 16, 2018 | Full review
The pages are finished in natural white, so you won’t have any problems when it comes to color reproduction.
- Home Esthetics
July 15, 2019 | Full review
This sketchbook is wire-bound with perforated pages for easy removal.
- Architect's Resources
Each sketchbook comes with 100 full pages and supports dry mediums like graphite along with charcoal.
- Concept Art Empire
What experts didn't like
The paper may bleed a bit depending on which marker you use. Be sure to do a marker test or put a piece of copy paper between pages to prevent any bleeding.
- Get Life You Desire
Cannot use it with wet media
- Wiki EZ Vid
February 16, 2018 | Full review
It cannot take too many layers of color before it starts curling up
- Home Esthetics
July 15, 2019 | Full review
A few Amazon reviewers have said that this product falls apart quickly.
- Architect's Resources
One thing you might not like is the cover design. It uses ugly Canson branding with splash artwork as a marketing ploy. Most artists(myself included) prefer the solid black color.
- Concept Art Empire

From The Manufacturer

A smooth surface drawing paper that, erases cleanly and contains 30percent post consumer content. The wire bound pads are bound at the top with durable dual loop wire and have micro-perforated true size sheets.

Overall Product Rankings

1. Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad
Overall Score: 9.5
Expert Reviews: 8
2. illo Sketchbook Premium 122lb Hardcover Notebook
Overall Score: 9.4
Expert Reviews: 4
3. Pentalic Sketch Book
Overall Score: 9.4
Expert Reviews: 8
4. Canson XL Series Mix Media Paper Pad
Overall Score: 9.3
Expert Reviews: 10
5. Leda Art Supply Perfect Premium Sketch Book
Overall Score: 9.3
Expert Reviews: 13
6. Arteza Sketch Book, Pack of 3
Overall Score: 9.3
Expert Reviews: 3
7. Bellofy Sketchpad Artist Pro
Overall Score: 9.1
Expert Reviews: 9
8. Elans Journal Personalized Artist Sketchbook
Overall Score: 9.0
Expert Reviews: 1
9. Canson Artist Series Universal Sketch Pad
Overall Score: 8.7
Expert Reviews: 7
10. Master Class Art Premium Spiral Hardcover Sketchbook
Overall Score: 8.0
Expert Reviews: 4

An Overview On Sketch Books

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.

DYWM 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 Buying Guide

  • 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.