New Sketchbooks!

9 Sketchbooks

A couple of weeks ago I went online to order a new sketchbook. I wanted to try something different from what I’d been using and before I knew it I’d ordered 9 different sketchbooks! It all started because I thought a spiral bound watcercolour sketchbook might be useful for urban sketching. I’m not usually a fan of spiral bound books but last time I went on a sketch crawl it was quite windy and I thought that I spiral bound book would be easier to handle in those conditions. They fold back on themselves and if I got one with a sturdy cover it would be easy to work on on my lap.

My first thought was Seawhite of Brighton. They make some really nice, affordable sketchbooks and their watercolour paper is good quality. Unfortunately they don’t make a watercolour sketchbook in the size I really wanted (A5, or 8 x 5 inches) so I went for the A4 one.

Seawhite Watercolour Sketchbook

They have 2 options in these books – a 35 page book with paper that weighs 225gsm and a 25 page book with thicker 350gsm paper. I went for the one with thicker paper and although I haven’t started sketching in it yet I think it’s going to be really nice to use. The only down side seems to be that it’s quite heavy but I can probably live with that if I’m only carrying it around for a few hours.

I have used one spiral bound watercolour sketchbook before that was closer to the size I really wanted. It was a Daler Rowney Cachet Travel Sketchbook but they don’t seem to make them any more from what I can tell. I did find another Daler Rowney watercolour sketchbook though, which is the same size and uses the same paper as the Travel Book

Daler Rowney Sketchbook

Like the Seawhite watercolour book the Daler Rowney has lovely thick paper (300gsm) and a sturdy hard cover. It’s 7×10 inches so not as bulky or heavy as the Seawhite sketchbook, and it came with a tin containing a pencil, a few watercolour pencils and a brush. I’m looking forward to trying this one out soon.

Seawhite Sketchbooks

Going back to Seawhites, I ordered quite a few of their other sketchbooks too. These aren’t specifically for watercolour but their cartridge paper is good quality for drawing in pencil and ink, and all of their sketchbooks are excellent value for money. The ones I chose are an A5 Creative Casebound sketchbook with a green spine, an A5 spiral bound sketchbook with a black paper cover, and an A5 Eco spiral bound sketchbook and with a sturdy hard cover.

I also thought I’d stock up on sketchbooks with toned paper. I ordered 2 Seawhite sketchbooks with black paper. One is from the range of Starter sketchbooks and is A4.

Seawhites Black wirebound sketchbook

The other is an A5 hard backed, wire bound sketchbook containing thick black card, which looks like it will hold up well to pen, pencil and gouache or acrylic paint.

Hahnemuhle Grey Book

I recently used a Hahnemuhle watercolour sketchbook, which was very nice so when I spotted that they now make a grey paper sketchbook I was keen to give it a try. Grey paper sketchbooks aren’t easy to find in the UK or Europe so this one stood out for me.

Hahnemuhle Grey Paper

The paper is 120gsm so probably won’t hold up well to paint but for drawing in pencil, pen or coloured pencil it should be good.

Winsor and Newton Sketchbook

Finally, I spotted this Winsor and Newton watercolour sketchbook and I love Winsor and Newton paints so I thought I’d try this sketchbook. It’s nice and compact but the cover’s not as sturdy as the other watercolour books I bought. That does have the advantage of making it lighter to carry around though.

Winsor and Newton watercolour paper

The paper is 300gsm which is the same as the Daler Rowney book I mentioned, but for some reason the Winsor and Newton paper feels a bit thinner so it’ll be interesting to compare the two. The pages are perforated which I’m not that keen on but I can live with it. What I do like is the size. It’s 7×5 inches so it’s really easy to fit into a small bag and carry around most days.

I bought the Seawhite sketchbooks from ArtESaver. They offer free delivery on all orders over £40, and I also got a big box of ‘seconds’ for £10, which are sketchbooks that have some some damage to the covers, are the end of a range or have foil blocking on the covers but the paper is still perfectly fine for sketching.

All the other sketchbooks I mentioned came from Granthams Art Discount, which have some really good prices on a while range of art supplies and their delivery is pretty quick too.

I hope you found this useful and/or interesting. What’s your favourite sketchbook? Do you use different sketchbooks for different situations or stick to one at a time?

My Current Daily Art Kit

DailyArtkit

At the moment I’m working on the 365 Days to a Portfolio Project, which involves making 3 illustrations each week, and my 100 Days of Hand Lettering, which I do every single day. I usually combine the 2 when they overlap just to make life a bit easier, but it’s a lot of work. And because I didn’t have enough going on (!) I’m also taking the latest Sketchbook Skool klass as well, which lasts 5 weeks.

I’m sharing my work every day on social media so I thought I’d explain here a bit more about the process and the tools I’m using pretty muc every day. They’re not all pictured here. Most of them are but these are the main things I use each day.

An A4 sketchbook.

I’m using a Seawhite of Brighton Creative Casebound sketchbook, which has nice smooth drawing paper and is hard bound. I’m using that to draw out my hand lettering every day. Sometimes I use pencil first and then ink it but mostly I just use a pen (hence the spelling mistake I made in one of the quotations you can see here!).

Micron pens.

I have a selection of Pigma Micron pens, which I’m using for my lettering and they range from 005 to the Pigma Graphic 1 and they work nicely on the smooth paper in this big sketchbook.

Surface Pro tablet.

I’ve been digitising most of my hand lettering so far and to do that I scan the sketchbook and then clean things up and edit things together in Photoshop so the Surface Pro, together with my Bamboo stylus, comes in handy for that, as does my laptop.

A5 Watercolour Moleskine Sketchbook.

On days when I don’t digitise my hand lettering I use a page in my A5 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook. These are one of my favourite all-round sketchbooks to use regularly. I like the size, the landscape format and they handle watercolour paint pretty well.

Watercolour Paint.

This is my medium-sized palette from Winsor and Newton which I use most days for non-digital hand lettering and other sketches and drawings. The bright coloured blobs of paint inside the lid are gouache paint which I just mix from the tube and clean off every so often.

Paintbrushes.

I use a whole range of paintbrushes but my favourites at the moment are from Rosemary and Co. I especially like this mop brush for creating big washes of colour for backgrounds.

A5 Mixed Media Sketchbook.

This is the sketchbook I use most often. It’s a Stillman and Birn Zeta sketchbook and I really like the thick paper (although I think my favourite is their Beta sketchbook because the paper has a bit more ‘tooth’). I haven’t tried yet but it’s really smooth so I think it would handle Copic markers nicely.

These are the core of what I use to make my drawings and illustrations each day at the moment. Sometimes I also add in some coloured Uniball pens, Gelly Roll and Gelly Glaze pens, a pencil and watercolour pencils for sketching.

What are you favourite and most useful tools that you use regularly?

Urban Sketching: Magdalen College, Oxford

Magdaen_College

Last Saturday I spent a very sunny afternoon with the Oxford Urban Sketchers. I don’t get to Oxford very often – this is only the second time I’ve met with the group there – but it’s good to sketch in places that are new to me from time to time.

We met, and spent a couple of hours sketching, near the deer park at Magdalen College, which was a nice peaceful spot, considering how busy the high street was that day. I’m looking forward to my next sketching trip outside London – hopefully in the not too distant future.

Urban Sketching in Oxford

dinosaur

Earlier this week I spent the afternoon in Oxford with a small group of local Urban Sketchers. I’d been invited to a few sketching afternoons in Oxford but this was the first one that I was able to get to. We spent 2 hours sketching in the Museum of Natural History, which is a very nice building with lots of interesting things to look at and draw. Although it wasn’t a particularly cold day it was nice to be indoors with a comfortable chair to sit on.

At the end of the 2 hours we all got together in the cafe for a cup of tea and to have a look at each other’s work. It was a fun afternoon and something that I’ll hopefully repeat at some point in the new year. Many thanks to Dougie for organising this event and for inviting me to join in!

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