Moleskine Watercolour Book: New (blue) label, better paper

October 4, 2018 | 17 Comments

Some of you might remember my long article about the change in the paper of the Moleskine Watercolour sketchbooks back in 2014 when the labels became white and pink. Basically the quality of the paper dropped significantly with a very noticeable difference between the front and back side of the paper, and a strong mechanical grain on the back side. I was devastated but continued to use Moleskine sketchbooks as they were my favourite.

Since 2014 the paper quality has improved but there was still these two issues, but to a lesser extent. I was very conscious of the difference between the front and back sides when I was doing all the demos for my SketchingNow Watercolour course at the end of last year. I preferred the smoother side (what I call the ‘back’ side to be consistent with my 2014 article) to the front side as the grain was sometimes too strong. (I know that it looks quite nice in this example but on a full sketch it was sometimes overpowering.)

This April (2018) I ordered some more Moleskines for my big trip from Book Depository. The image on the website showed a pink label but when they arrived they had a blue one. I didn’t think much of it until I was travelling and then I suddenly realised there was no longer any strong grain on some pages.


There is a slight difference between front and back sides of the paper but it is not very noticeable and the mechanical grain is hard to see. The grain is still there (just) but no longer a strong diagonal in washes. Yay! I’m a very happy girl.

I don’t think a lot of websites have updated their images to show the new label yet but here is the image on the Moleskine site. From what I have heard from participants of SketchingNow Watercolour, it seems that the blue label is what is being shipped now.

Note: Apart from the removal of ‘cold-pressed paper’ the information about the paper in the book is the same on the new label.

Has anyone else noticed this?



  • Anne Lyle says:

    I’ve only just bought a couple of these, having been put off by the grain on the pink-label ones, so I’m excited to try them out! However the information on Moleskine’s own website is contradictory – on the page for the portrait-orientation version, it calls it a ‘watercolour album’ and says the paper is 165gm cotton blend, even though the label on the picture says 200gsm and calls it a ‘watercolour notebook’!

    • Liz Steel says:

      I have no idea what that book is… something new? At first I thought it was the sketchbook… but it says watercolour and its portrait format

      • Anne Lyle says:

        Yes, my previous watercolour moleskines in this size have been landscape. I wonder if they are calling the portrait one a ‘notebook’ to distinguish it from the landscape version?

      • Theresa Jones says:

        I love my Moleskine landscape A5 sketchbooks but wished they did a portrait one. I’ve just dis peered that there is one and ordered the Moleskine watercolour Album in portrait format and hope it’s as good as the landscape ones.

  • Tom Cunliffe says:

    The Moleskine watercolor notebook 8.25″ x 5″ is my sketchbook of choice. I ordered a new one last week and was delighted to receive the blue label version. I agree with you that the grain is not so pronounced and does not have that diagonal slant to it. I find it hard to detect any difference between front and back of sheets however. The sheer presentation of these books is so good that I guess I’d tolerate quite a bit of change to the paper. I’m constantly surprised by what I find in the little envelopes in the back of my old sketchbooks and make sure I plant little surprises in my current one for later discovery.

  • Harry says:

    The bue labelled watercolor books have been available in the USA for at least 4 years…….

    • Liz Steel says:

      Wow really?!?
      The image on is still showing the pink label though ?

    • Johanna says:

      Being available doesn’t necessarily mean that is what you receive if you order online. I’m in the USA, and I’ve ordered from different USA retailers and had received pink label books. I assume it’s due to what they have in stock. To ensure get the newest version (blue label), I either go to a brick-and-mortar or order directly from Moleskine.

  • John Winters says:

    I’ve recently purchased two Moleskines in the last two months. The A5 size had a pink label and the pocket watercolor album came with a blue one. I still have it When I realized that the labels were different colors I initially thought that I had purchased the wrong kind, but could not find any differences other than the color. Looking at the paper side by side at my desk here, it’s possible to see very slight differences (to my eye anyway). The pages in both books have a similar feel and take my ink and watercolor wonderfully. I was tickled to see this post though, as I’ve been wondering!!

  • Patricia Wallace says:

    I believe pink is landscape and blue is portrait.

  • Anne Lyle says:

    Also, just to confuse everyone they have an ‘Art Plus’ range with a red label:×210-black

    I can’t remember if my older Moleskines had the pink or red label – I don’t think they had the pre-2014 one.

  • Yvonne Carpenter says:

    I purchased 2 A4 landscape watercolor sketchbooks last week and they arrived today. This is a cover I never saw before. Last time I ordered from this online store in California I received the new bluish label. But today they had a black and gray label and said “watercolor folio”…..weird! Has anyone seen this new (?) label? Could this be very old stock perhaps?

    • Yvonne Carpenter says:

      I will post a pic of the label tomorrow for reference – they are in the studio (detached from the house!), and since it is nearly midnight here and 0 C / 32 F, I don’t want to go fetch it!!

  • Yvonne Carpenter says:

    Well, no pic needed – the item I received is identical to Liz’s pic depicting the OLD folio. So I got 2 blue labels from them before SketchKon, and when I ordered 2 more on Monday this week, I received the pre-2014 books. VERY strange! I never used the pre-pink label books, and indeed still have severe pink label ones of different sizes, so now I am afraid of using these “good paper” books and not liking the pink label ones, lol! I am simply going to run thru the pink label stash first, and only then will I try the old or new blue label ones……so complex, lol ?

    • Liz Steel says:

      HI Yvonne, that is amazing that you received such old stock. I still have one or two of those old ones, but not sure when to use them 🙂

  • Roselyn Melville says:

    Hi Liz, you’re quite happy with 170 gsm paper for watercolour and sketching? I’m a newbie and was advised to always get 300 gsm, which seems a bit expensive for everyday sketching. I’ll join your on line class this year ? Rose

Leave a Reply