Updated for 2019!
Painting with watercolors is amongst the most popular methods of art with wet media that’s used by both professional and amateur artists.
While many omight believe that there isn’t much to picking out a watercolor sketchbook or a watercolor journal, it’s actually not really the case. There are multiple features you should look for, so we have researched five of the best watercolour sketchbooks / journals to help you determine what’s going to work best for you.
We have a comprehensive write up on factors to consider when choosing the right watercolor sketchbook in this article, so do refer on that article too while reading this review.
Some artists are content with working in studio with their watercolor blocks. However on the off chance that you need a sketchbook or a journal for portability reasons, you should have the best one that works for you.
Pentalic Watercolor Dream Catcher Sketchbook
This sketchbook is versatile, the paper is thick, takes watercolor very well, the accordion fold opens up more possibilities.
And as an added bonus the price is very affordable too.
We decided to start things off with the Speedball Art watercolor journal not only because of the company’s reputation but because of the various options that are available for watercolorists everywhere.
You might have seen this journal sold under Global Art Material before and wonder why it is sold under Speedball now. The reason is simple: Speedball Art has acquired Global Art Materials January 2018.
Being a company that caters to multiple types of artists is something that sets Speedball Art above the others, and the wide variety that they offer enables watercolorists and other media artists to practice new techniques no matter where they are.
Choosing this book will give you the opportunity to explore your artistic prowess.
In our reviewing process, we found that most companies only offer one size or orientation of their sketchbook offerings. However not so with this Travelogue line, this journal is offered in the following forms:
We really liked this variety and we are sure you’d too, as you will likely to find one size and form that is perfect for your need.
Paper weight: 200 gsm, which is adequate for general watercolor use (300 gsm is the most common watercolor paper weight).
Paper texture: Cold pressed.
This journal includes a clear pocket at the back of the book, has a durable cover, and allow the user to store various sizes of loose-leaf while being easy to travel with.
With it’s durable hard cover, the Travelogue Watercolor Journal does not also seep through.
It’s 60 acid-free sheets is also bound in linen.
An issue with this watercolor book is that the pages may warp when wet media is used.
Moleskine hasn’t been around for as long as some of the other companies in the stationery world, but it’s quickly become one of the top sellers. Having only been around since 1997, we wanted to take a look at the Moleskine book to see how it compares to some of the others and what puts it in the best watercolor sketchbook category.
Without fail, the major selling point for us is the incredible design of the Moleskine Sketchbook. The book opens completely flat, so you can spend more time focusing on your art instead of fussing with pages that want to close.
There is also a pouch that’s included at the back of the book so that you can store other notes and papers that you travel with; hence, it’s perfect for whatever you want to store.
Unfortunately, we did find that this particular Moleskine book does have lighter pages. The weight comes in at 200 gsm instead of the standard 300 gsm.
When using watercolors, you won’t notice any seeping through, but there is some warping, especially when using heavy washes.
If you like to read a more in-depth review of this sketchbook – check our Moleskine Watercolor sketchbook review.
The Moleskine Watercolor Album Sketchbook has 72 pages of FSC certified paper and is cold-pressed. The book opens flatly with an internal accordion pocket.
Absorbency is very quick that pages may warp when used with wet media.
The Pentalic brand is one of the best on the market and reviewing the Dream Catcher sketchbook made it evident why Pentalic made it to our list of watercolor sketchbooks.
One of the main reasons we wanted to investigate it further is because it’s one of the few sketchbooks available with 300 gsm paper.
The features that come along with the Pentalic Sketchbook make it every bit worth it. Not only does it have 300 gsm pages, but the book also comes in a variety of sizes that make it convenient and useful for a variety of watercolorists.
The accordion-style layout is a different maker in our opinion, it allows artist to paint on one page up to an extended ten panels. Here is a possibility of one art in 10 panels:
Pentalic also ensures that with this sketchbook, artists get to preserve their work for long periods by making sure the paper has a neutral pH level, or simply, free from acid. Additionally, this sketchbook has a durable cover that assists with protecting the pages.
The Pentalic Watercolor Dream Catcher Sketchbook is ideal for travel as the pages does not warp or bleed. It has 140lbs. of cold-pressed paper.
Again we really love the accordion fold feature.
Size is the difference with this sketchbook as it is smaller in comparison to other sketchbooks.
The SuperiorMaker brand is relatively new to watercolor books, but we couldn’t help but see how the book’s features are compared to the others. Also, it’s the only journal with a paperweight of 220GSM, so let’s see how it fares against some of the industry’s leading competitors like Molskine.
Working with the SuperiorMaker notebook was pleasant and surprising. Watercolorists of all experience levels are going to enjoy the high-quality, highly-absorbent, textured, and adequately weighted paper that comes in the sketchbook.
Definitely, there is no bleed through when using wet media, but a slight warping to the page was noticed when using heavy washes, and it took about a day to flatten out.
SuperiorMaker created their notebook with a sturdy, hard cover design with a PU leather finish which gives it a professional look. Additionally, it includes a band to keep the journal shut, a ribbon page marker, and a pocket at the back cover to store any loose pages. There is also a horizontal binding that enables the journal to open flat easily.
The SuperiorMaker Art Watercolor Notebook is ideal for those who travel and includes a lifetime guarantee. Works with various types of media and does not bleed the paint.
This watercolor sketchbook may tend to have slightly warped pages when used with heavy washes.
We’ve come to the final sketchbook on our list, and we wanted to include Arteza in this review and comparison. The Arteza brand has a great reputation in the art world, and this pack of sketchbooks is different from the others. Instead of having a journal or accordion layout, each book is designed like a paper pad and is the second brand to offer 300 gsm weighted paper.
Arteza uses their value pack to help artists with experiencing all different techniques on high-quality paper. The paper used is cold-pressed, 300 gsm or 140 lbs in weight, and perfectly textured for a variety of media, including watercolor paint.
Additionally, Arteza ensures that your creations remain vibrant by using acid-free paper, and the company provides a satisfaction guarantee that includes a replacement should you experience any issues.
The Arteza Two-Pack Watercolor Pad has a value pack with 64 high quality pages that is satisfaction guaranteed. It has no page warping and can be used with dry and wet media.
The drawback for this pad is that is smaller than expected and the pages tend to absorb the paint very quickly.
Now that we’ve painted the perfect picture of the best watercolor sketchbook for you, it’s time for us to let you know which one is our favorite. When reviewing all of the sketchbooks, we determined that they all had their strengths and weaknesses, but some couldn’t be overlooked.
We wanted to ensure that our preferred sketchbook offered pages that were great for watercolor, didn’t have much warping, had a good weight and texture, and would be beneficial for a variety of artists who use multiple types of media. When doing this, we concluded that you couldn’t go wrong with the Pentalic Watercolor Dream Catcher Sketchbook.
The reputation of the Pentalic Company was not the only reason that it became our favorite. There was no page warping when using heavy washes, and the texture was just right and didn’t feel like linen.
We also enjoyed the accordion layout that this particular journal has since it leaves you the option of painting on one or two pages, or you can stretch the panel out and paint a full landscape.
Whichever you choose to go with, the pages are going to welcome your watercolor and hold onto the vibrancy for a long time.