Video: Finding a sketchbook that suits

February 1, 2017 | 8 Comments

In order to sketch freely and consistently throughout the busyness of everyday life, I need some specific requirements in a daily sketchbook. These are different from those I use when I am travelling or going out on a dedicated sketching outing.

In this video, I flip through a few sketchbooks that I have used over the years and share a few thoughts about how they felt for me at the time. This is a very personal response, as yours will be to any sketchbook that you use. Note: If you can’t see the embedded video please click image above or link here.

So I would love you to share your sketchbook preferences and give reasons why in the comment section to in order give others an idea how varying our favourites are.

Please note: There are many more sketchbooks that I could have reviewed, but these are the main contenders for me at the moment.

Links mentioned in the video.

Sketchbooks section  – make sure you click for more descriptions to read more about the sketchbook decision making process.

Article that explains the tree sketches

Fabriano Watercolor Book

Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks. Website
Sketchbooks in video Alpha Softcover 8 x 10, 5.5 x 8.5, 8.5 x 5.5, Alpha Hardcover 9 x 6, Delta Hardcover 5.5 x 8.5, Zeta Wire Bound 6 x 8

Global Art Handbook Travelogue Watercolor book

Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbooks: Watercolor Notebook – Large (approx A5) and Folio Watercolor Album- A4 size.


  • Kellie Stapleton says:

    I bought a Stillman & Birn softcover, 8×10 based on your recommendation. As a beginner I really had NO idea where to start. I had previously used a Strathmore sketching book (8.5×5.5) for some pencil sketches and found it to be a little small, and I did not like the spiral binding. I just ordered a square format size of the Travelogue Watercolor book recommended Marc Holmes. I enjoy this format in photography; we’ll see how I like it for sketching.

    Just want to give a big thanks for all your posts and videos. They’re incredibly helpful and inspirational to me.

    • Liz Steel says:

      My pleasure Kellie. Have fun getting to know those two sketchbooks (a great choice!) but don’t over worry it. Just take it one sketch at a time. Personal preferences come over time.

  • Simone Stork says:

    When I am in an art supplies store I sometimes peruse serious books with wonderful watercolor paper. But I have to admit they look at me frowning and I hear them whisper: Don’t you dare to buy me – you’re not playing in my league!
    Ok – they are right. I don’t need an authority to sketch in, I need a playground. So I chose some ordinary book – Thick pages that will sigh and take watercolor against better knowing.
    I like square ones; I do like them to have yellowish paper. They can be my mates following me everywhere. Often an unforeseen rain writes a nice pattern on their cover.
    People in Germany find those books for example here:

  • FIONA HAYES says:

    Hi Liz. Thanks for that vlog. So informative and helpful! While in Sydney this week, I have seen the 5.5 x 8.5 Stillman & Birn Alpha soft cover (portrait shape) book in Dymocks in the CBD, just so any Sydney people can be aware of. Have yet to start it, but looking forward to it. Thanks again.

  • Gerda Wolzak- van Hummel says:

    Yesterday I ordered the Stillman&birn gamma hardcover. I would have liked to buy the softcover version, but could only order this by Amazon against +_ 80€. AWay to expensive. I’m curious how the gamma paper reacts on pencil, ink and watercolour. Since a few years I tried all kinds of papers and noticed I like to use white paper.

  • Youanna says:

    I have also found the small soft cover landscape type to be very narrow, and I had trouble squeezing my sketches, and then not sketch so much anymore.

    Then I have found out from you about portait 8.5 x5.5 and also the 8 x10 and I run out today and got them both. I cannot wait to try them and see how they feel in action. Thanks so much for all your posts and videos!

  • Brandy Fenenga says:

    I’m just discovering your site and loving it! I really appreciate this post. Could you tell a little about what you use to put your dates and numbers on your sketches? Is it a stencil?

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