No matter what kind of medium you are working with, it always takes a lot of time and practice to become good at it. This is especially true for watercolors, which can be difficult to control for beginners.
Having a watercolor sketchbook or journal can be a great motivation to practice daily. And having all your paintings in one place and in chronological order will let you keep track of your progress as well.
However, using a standard sketchbook won’t work very well because the water will ruin the pages. That’s why it’s crucial to have a sketchbook that can handle watercolors.
In this article you’ll learn how to find a good sketchbook for painting with watercolors and we’ll go over our favorites.
Regular Sketchbook Vs Watercolor sketchbook
When it comes to watercolors, the paper is just as important as the paint itself. Using watercolors on printer paper quickly leads to wrinkled paper and the paint will be absorbed very slowly.
What’s why you will need a special sketchbook for watercolors rather than a standard one designed just for sketching and drawing.
The main difference is the weight and the texture of the paper. Heavier paper can absorb more water, while paper with a rough surface can absorb the water more quickly.
The normal printer paper that we are all familiar with weights around 80 grams per square meter (GSM), while high-quality watercolor paper can weight between 300 GSM (light-weight paper) to 850 GSM (heavy-weight paper).
For more information, read our article about the best paper for watercolor painting.
Unfortunately, high quality watercolor paper can be quite pricey and the purpose behind a watercolor journal is for you to practice without any worry or hesitation.
That’s why most notebooks for watercolors actually use paper that weights around 200 GSM. This keeps the price down to a reasonable level while the paper is still heavy enough to able to handle a decent amount of water.
Top 5 Best Watercolor Sketchbooks
#1 Best Watercolor Sketchbook For Beginners
Canson is one of the best brands when it comes to watercolor paper. Although most of their higher quality paper is a bit too expensive for beginners, this mix media paper pad is great budget pick.
The paper is heavy enough to handle watercolor, oil or acrylic paint so it can be used for a wide variety of projects and works great as an overall painting sketchbook.
Weight: 160 GSM
Number of pages: 60
Size: 7″ x 10″
#2 Best Watercolor Journal With Hard cover
When It comes to sketchbooks I have always had a big preference for a hard cover over a soft cover. To be honest, this is mainly because I think it looks better. But there are some real subjective reasons to go with a hardcover as well!
Most importantly, a hardcover keeps your paintings much safer. Especially if you want to travel with your sketchbook. I have experienced folded paintings several times after putting a soft cover sketchbook in my bagpack.
This Moleskine watercolor journal is sure to keep your paintings safe and has a beautiful bound cover with elastic closure.
Weight: 200 GSM
Number of pages: 72
Size: 5″ x 8″
#3 Best Watercolor Notebook For Travel
One of the benefits of watercolors is that they are super easy to travel with. And every now and then I take my paints and sketchbook to the park and paint the beautiful scenery in front of me.
This portable watercolor notebook is great for travel and painting en plein air due to its small size. Coming at 4″ x 6.5″ it easily fits into your pocket or bag.
It has a grey leather hard cover that will keep your paintings safe and a silk ribbon bookmark to easily navigate to your latest painting.
Weight: 200 GSM
Number of pages: 80
Size: 4″ x 6.5″
#4 Watercolor Sketchbook With The Most Pages
As an avid painter you will finish your sketchbook in no time and you might already have a bunch of completed sketchbook.
If this sounds like familiar, you might want to take a look at this sketchbook by Bellofy. With 100 sheets, it has almost double the pages as most other notebooks and the sheets are of A4 format which is bigger than most other options.
However, the sheets are a little on the thin side, so you will have to make sure you don’t use too much water.
Weight: 160 GSM
Number of pages: 100
Size: 9″ x 12″
#5 Best Watercolor Sketchbook With Heavy Paper
As mentioned before, the most important thing to look for when choosing a sketchbook for watercolors is the weight of the paper.
Whereas most sketchbook try to keep the price low by using very lightweight paper, this sketchbook actually uses 300 GSM paper.
This lets you use as much watercolor paint as you want without having to worry about damaging the paper.
Although the quality of the paper in this sketchbook is undoubtedly very high, it doesn’t contain as many sheets as most other sketchbooks.
Weight: 300 GSM
Number of pages: 48
Size: 5″ x 5″