If you’re an artist who loves to work with watercolors, then you know that finding the right watercolor sketchbook can make all the difference.
But with so many options out there, how do you choose? So I’m sharing my favorites in this post – the watercolor sketchbooks I know and love.
There is no technical jargon here, just a passionate discussion of the best options for artists who want to create beautiful watercolor works. So discover your new go-to watercolor sketchbook!
Top Picks for the Best Watercolor Sketchbook for Artists in 2023
135 lb / 200 gsm || Different sizes available: Pocket (3.5" x 5.5"), Large (5 x 8.25-Inch), A4 (8.25 - 11.75-inch), A3 (11.75 x 16.5-inch)
140lb / 300 gsm || Different sizes available: 5.5 x 8.5-inch, 9 x 12-inch, 10 x 15-inch, 15 x 20-inch, 18 x 24-inch
Large Portrait, 8-1/4 x 5-1/2, 140lb / 300 GSM Acid Free Paper
Different sizes available: 8.25 x 5.5 Inch | 10.5 x 8.25 Inch | 5.25 x 8.25 Inch | 3.5 x 8.25 Inch | 8.25 x 8.25 Inch
140lb / 300gsm || 7-inch x 10-inch, 48 Pages of Acid Free Paper
Sizes: 3.5 x 5.375 Inch | 5.5 x 5.5 Inch | 5 x 8 Inch | 7 x 10 Inch | 8.5 x 11 Inch
140lb / 300gsm || 5.5x8.5 Inch
My Pick: Moleskine Hard Cover Art Watercolor Sketchbook
135 lb / 200 gsm || 3.5" x 5.5" || 60 pages
135 lb / 200 gsm || 5" x 8.25" || 60 pages
135 lb / 200 gsm || 8.25" x 11.75" || 60 pages
135 lb / 200 gsm || 11.75" x 16.5" || 60 pages
With strong and heavy (200 G/M² (grams per square meter paper weight) premium quality paper, the Moleskine sketchbook takes water well without buckling and are great for all watercolor techniques, including washes, layers, fading, blending, and mixing colors.
It is a cold press paper, which some may argue may not be absolutely the best for finer work.
But I’ve found that they work great with precise detail with pens or pencils and are much more versatile and better for watercolor.
Moleskine watercolor sketchbooks are acid-free and PH-neutral. The paper will not deteriorate, yellow, or shift color over time or contribute to the painted image’s degradation, color loss, or fading.
Is Moleskine Good for Watercolor?
The paper quality may be the main draw in this watercolor sketchbook, but I also love its overall look and feel. It is a substantial kit, solid, nicely designed, easy to use, and has a premium feel.
It has a nice hardcover, elastic closure, and an expandable pocket inside – solid, useful, and durable but light enough to be easily portable.
Offering exceptionally high quality and consistent results and allowing any watercolor images to look their most beautiful, the Moleskine sketchbook is a great choice for a beginner who really wants to explore and learn all aspects and techniques of watercolor as an art form and the most experienced advanced artists as well.
The Moleskine watercolor album is available in four different sizes, all with the same wonderful design and high-quality paper:
- Moleskine Watercolor Album, Pocket-Sized (3.5 x 5.5 Inches), 60 Pages
- Moleskine Watercolor Album, Large Sized (5 x 8.5 Inches), 72 Pages
- Moleskine Watercolor Album, Large Sized (8.25 x 11.75 Inches), 60 Pages
- Moleskine Watercolor Album, Large Sized (11.75 x 16.5 Inches), 60 Pages
Also Great: Canson Artist Series Montval Watercolor Paper Pad
140 lb / 300 gsm || 5.5" x 8.5" || Side/Top spiral
140 lb / 300 gsm || 9" x 12" || Side / Top spiral
140 lb / 300 gsm || 10" x 15" || Side / Top spiral
140 lb / 300 gsm || 18" x 24" || Fold over
Available in four different sizes, the Canson Montval watercolor sketchbooks all have superb acid-free heavy-duty paper, made in France specifically for watercolor paints, pencils, and pens and suitable for all watercolor techniques.
It is a cold press paper, meaning it has a rougher surface, is optimized for all watercolor processes and methods, and is heavy enough (300 G/M² (grams per square meter)) to withstand several washes, layering, scraping, erasing, heavy mixing and other water techniques.
Again, I also find this wonderful paper imminently suitable for detailed work. Each sheet is cleverly micro-perforated and can be detached without damage and displayed proudly.
With some of the best paper quality of any affordable watercolor notebook on the market, the Canson Artist Series Montval Watercolor Notebook goes, in fact, for a remarkably reasonable price and is one of the most popular and widely used notebooks among fine and commercial artists, students and beginners alike.
- Canson Artist Series Montval Watercolor Paper Pad, 5.5 x 8.5 Inch, Top Wire
- Canson Artist Series Montval Watercolor Paper Pad, 9 x 12 Inch, Top Wire
- Canson Artist Series Montval Watercolor Paper Pad, 9 x 12 Inch, Side Wire
- Canson Artist Series Montval Watercolor Paper Pad, 10 x 15 Inch, Side Wire
- Canson Artist Series Montval Watercolor Paper Pad, 18 x 24 Inch, Fold Over
Travel Pick: Travelogue Artist Watercolor Journal Bound in Natural Linen
Large Portrait / Landscape || 8-1/4 x 5-1/2 || 140 lb / 300 gsm Acid Free Paper
Different sizes available
Large Portrait / Landscape || 8-1/4 x 5-1/2 || 95 lb / 200 gsm Acid Free Paper
Different sizes available
A wonderful and luxurious watercolor book, the Travelogue watercolor journal is hand-bound in fine European linen.
It is as beautifully made as it looks, feeling special and important. And yet the Travelogue journal goes for an amazingly low price, unbelievably so, even when you consider how it looks, feels in your hand, and makes your artwork look!
The Travelogue artist watercolor journal is available in five sizes and two paper weights – 200 G/M² (grams per square meter) or 300 G/M².
While both papers are cold-pressed and acid-free, both are suitable for a wide range of watercolor techniques and are highly recommended.
The 300-gram paper will take more water without buckling and better handle extended washes, several layers scraping, rinsing, and erasing without breaking down – this allows me to be more free and focused, without worry or worry distraction, and permits me to follow any technique or style without concern.
A beautiful book that, when I first held it in my hands, I instantly imagined filled with beautiful watercolor paintings, the Travelogue artist watercolor journal is cleverly and usefully designed specifically with watercolor painting and artists in mind.
It is a very high-quality product in every respect – from its lovely linen cover to the rounded edges, the strong and discreet binding, the clever bookmark, and the elastic closure – and for a surprisingly low price. Very highly recommended!
Travelogue Artist Watercolor Journal in 200 G/M² and 300 G/M² Paper Weight
- Speedball Travelogue Artist Watercolor Journal – Various Sizes
- Travelogue Artist Watercolor Journal – Various Sizes
Premium Pick: Pentalic Aqua Journal Bound Watercolor Sketchbook
140-Pound/7-inch-by-10-inch, 7-inch x 10-inch, 48 Pages of Acid Free Paper
Sizes: 3.5 x 5.375 Inch | 5.5 x 5.5 Inch | 5 x 8 Inch | 7 x 10 Inch | 8.5 x 11 Inch
A watercolor sketchbook with a slightly higher price, the Pentalic Aqua Art Journal certainly has a premium look and feel and is clearly as well designed as it is well made.
Excellent materials and craftsmanship are evident everywhere – the superb finish of the heavy (300 GSM) paper is ideal for even the most water-intensive work and works well with all watercolor techniques without buckling or damage.
The beautiful binding is attractive, strong, and long-lasting, and the Pentalic Aqua art journal will lay down flat, making watercolor painting and drawing easy and fun.
For advanced artists and experienced watercolor painters, the Pentalic Aqua rivals even the best watercolor art paper in strength, finish, and presentation but in a fine and useful portable package that allows you to work anywhere, anytime, and at any level.
And for the beginner or casual artist, the quality and design – and how good this journal makes your artwork look – make the Pentalic Aqua watercolor notebook a joy to use.
Budget Pick: Arteza Watercolor Sketchbook Value Packs
3 pack || 110 lb / 230 gsm || 3.5 x 5.5 || Cold pressed paper
3 pack || 140 lb / 300 gsm || 8.5 x 5.5 || Cold pressed paper
2 pack || 140 lb / 300 gsm || 9 x 12 || Cold pressed paper
For the last sketchbook in my list of best watercolor sketchbooks, I will go in a slightly different direction today by recommending some marvelous value packs from Arteza.
Any Arteza watercolor book would be a great choice – strong, excellent-quality paper with a superb finish, great designs and overall quality, and a beautiful look and feel.
But as multi-packs, they are even better and a wonderful idea for anybody who is learning or likes to paint a lot without worrying about running out of space or paper.
Each of these value packs contains two or three separate sketchbooks, with anywhere from 128 to 240 total usable pages of premium, acid-free paper – a big supply, so you don’t feel like you are going to run out, and a great value, so you don’t worry about how much you are painting.
And they are not just a great deal; they are really great sketchbooks from one of the most popular and beloved art supplies companies, well made, well designed, and wonderful to use – and what a value!
- Arteza Watercolor Sketchbook Value Pack – 3.5 x 5.5 Inches, 80 Pages x 3 Sketchbooks
- Arteza Watercolor Sketchbook Value Pack – 5.5 x 8.5 Inches, 64 Pages x 3 Sketchbooks
- Arteza Watercolor Sketchbook Value Pack – 9 x 12 Inches, 64 Pages x 2 Sketchbooks
What To Look For In The Best Sketchbook For Watercolor
When you are trying to find the very best watercolor paper available – that is, not watercolor sketchbooks but individual sheets, artist pads, or studio rolls – you want to consider how the paper is manufactured and the materials used, the texture or finish it has, PH balance, strength and weight and much more.
It seems like it should be the same with a watercolor sketchbook.
However, I have to say that this is where I seem to diverge from many other artists and have somewhat different thoughts and feelings about the best watercolor sketchbooks.
I am not so focused on these technical questions but think instead of more basic things:
- Does the sketchbook respond well to watercolor paints and techniques and handle water well?
- Does it make my paintings look good, and do they last?
- Do I like using it?
- Do I use it a lot?
- Is it a good size and easy to take with you?
- Is the sketchbook well made and has a nice look and feel?
- Do I love it?
For example, not all of my favorite watercolor sketchbooks have 100 percent cotton watercolor paper, but they all still manage to be very strong and have excellent water-holding capacity.
And while we hear that it is important to determine whether a sketchbook or paper is hot-pressed or cold-pressed, I prefer the latter, with a rougher surface ideal for all types of watercolor techniques – this can still allow for good drawing. Detail work as well, and is overall much more versatile than hot pressed watercolor sketchbooks.
Indeed, my choices for the best watercolor sketchbooks are cold-pressed.
All of my favorites have excellent paper quality, with a great finish that’s nice to work with, resistant to tearing and pilling, and will offer consistent and reliable results.
The best watercolor sketchbooks I recommend here will be acid-free, ensuring that the pages will never be yellow or shift in color and will last a long time.
And all the watercolor sketchbooks on my list will also be very high overall, with durable construction and a great look and feel – sometimes as important as any other factor to us aesthetic types!
To me, then, the most important factors in choosing the best watercolor sketchbook are as follows:
- Good water-handling
- Nice paper texture (not necessarily smooth or rough, but always well-finished)
- Acid-free paper
- Natural and neutral paper color
- High-quality construction and premium look and feel
- Well-designed, easy, and nice to use
- And, again, do I love it?
So, if you are like me, in that while specifications and details can be important, you are more likely to make a purchasing decision based on how something feels and works for you and your artwork, how it serves your process, how it makes your art look, and how you feel when using it, then this is the list for you!
Instead of offering the 27 best watercolor sketchbooks or the 15 finest watercolor journals, or trying to offer an assessment of each and every brand and sketchbook out there –paper content, PH balance, fiber direction, and manufacturing process, the chemical composition of the fabric bookmark (I just made that one up) and who knows what else – I’m just going to include the 7 watercolor sketchbooks that I have used and loved.
These great watercolor sketchbooks work well with watercolor paints, pencils, pens, and all watercolor techniques make my art look wonderful, are very well made and nice looking, are easy and fun to use, and actually encourage me to paint.
For all of these and other reasons, each of my recommendations is a sketchbook that I love to have and use, and I highly recommend it.
I think you will love any of these journals, and I would love to hear about your experiences with them and see what you have created in and with your new watercolor sketchbook!
Advantages of the Best Watercolor Sketchbook – Spontaneity, Simplicity, and Portability
.I think that there is something about the ritual of painting that is unlike anything else I know, an almost sacred rite, personal, private, and wholly undivided, in which I can fully focus on, and express at the very highest levels my creative energy and artistic vision.
And yet, when I put it like that, all serious, poetic, and junk, I have to giggle a little. Yes, it’s true, canvas or fine art paper, easel, beautiful studio lighting, soft background music – that’s the ideal, but not always.
Sometimes I want to paint on the tram, at the park, or whenever / wherever the mood hits me. And sometimes, even at home, by the time I’ve set up the easel, cued up iTunes, put on my serious artist painting smock and beret, and assembled my paints and brushes, that mood may have passed.
But with a good watercolor notebook, one that’s made well, designed well, really nice to use, and with fine, strong paper – and especially (though not necessarily) with the best watercolor pencils – I can respond right away, with almost no set-up or thought when the mood does strike. I can be at home or away, at any time, day or night, flip open my beautiful watercolor book, and instantly go with the flow.
FAQs – Best Watercolor Sketchbook
I think the Moleskine sketchbook or Canson sketchbook is the best for watercolor.
Yes, it is OK to use watercolor on a sketchbook especially made for watercolors. Watercolor sketchbooks have a thicker and heavier paper that can withstand multiple washes.
The difference between watercolor paper and normal paper is thickness, weight, and texture. The watercolor paper is thicker and heavier to withstand multiple washes, and it comes with different textures, which make your watercolor paintings nicer.
The best watercolor paper for beginners is cold-press watercolor paper. It’s smooth so it allows for better control of multiple washes of watercolors.
Thanks so much for reading my latest article – Best Watercolor Sketchbooks for Artists: A Look at Some of My Favorites! – I invite you to visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for other buyer’s guides, online courses, articles, and other resources.
Other articles in the Watercolor, Acrylic, Gouache, and Oils series:
- Best Watercolor Pencils
- Best Watercolor Paints
- Best Watercolor Paper
- Best Watercolor Brushes
- Best Watercolor Canvas for Painting: Buy It or Prepare Your Own
- Best Oil Paint Sets for Artists
- Best Gouache Paint Sets
- Best Artist Inks
- Best Acrylic Paint Brushes for Artists
- Best Acrylic Paint for Artists
- Best Acrylic Paper and Canvas for Artists
Lis cet article en français 🇫🇷 Le meilleur carnet aquarelle pour les artistes en 2022
Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am a full-time self-taught artist behind Art Side of Life® and a Top Teacher on Skillshare. I have 15 years of experience in the creative field as a concept designer, illustrator, art director, and now freelance artist, content creator, and art instructor. My goal is to help you get your creative groove on with Procreate and make awesome art through practical classes, tutorials, Procreate brushes, and guides on art tools, supplies and resources. About me »
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