Sketchbook Review: Clairefontane Goldline Natural

October 2, 2020 | 5 Comments


Another book review – today it’s the Clairefontane Goldline Natural Sketchbook 20x20cm (see here) which I just finished. 

It seems to be the same book as one I bought in Europe last year under the brand of Charvin.


Size and Format: I used a Square 20x20cm.  It also comes in square (15x15cm and 30×30) and landscape (A6, A5 and A4). You can see the full Goldline range here on the Clairfontane site. I bought mine from Larrypost here in Sydney.

Aside: I have also used the black spiral version of the Goldline series a number of years ago. It is a very different book with 150gsm cartridge paper.

Weight: Square version –  390g (finished book)

Number of Pages:  32 sheets/64 pages

Binding: Hardcover, Sewn bound, opens flat. It has a black elastic strap and lovely matching endpapers. No back pocket but there is an elastic loop inside the back cover for a pencil.

Cover material: Treated fabric which is fairly mark resistant – I love the colour of this cover

Wear and tear: The cover looks as good as new after a fortnight of rough ‘Liz usage’. Any paint splashes and marks easily wiped off.

A number of people have had problems with the binding coming apart (see detailed article by Roz Stendahl) but mine is still holding up. I intentionally turned the pages a lot during the two weeks it took to fill this sketchbook. Also Roz mentions in her article the landscape books are bound with the grain of the paper going perpendicular to the spine which weakens the binding.

Summary: I really like the square format and how lightweight and portable the book is. And I love the cover. 


Fibres: Doesn’t say – so assume it’s 100% wood pulp (no cotton)

Paper Weight: 180gsm

Colour: Natural White

Texture: One side of the paper is smooth and the other side is slightly textured. The book is bound in such a way that there are often the two textures in one spread. Every double page spread with both sides textured includes the stitching in the gutter. This would be very annoying for people who prefer the rougher side.

Ink: Paper is good for ink on both the smooth and rough sides of the paper so the difference in texture didn’t bother me so much. I didn’t see an instances of ink bleeding through to the opposite side of the page.

Pencil: I didn’t do any pencil sketches in this sketchbook, but a few quick tests indicate that it works well.

Watercolour: Overall the paper works well for watercolour. Please see this article for an explanation of what I’m looking for so that I can achieve my quick urban sketches.

Here are a few of my findings:

  • It takes a good amount of water with little buckling. As mentioned in the above article, I don’t mind a little buckling in my everyday sketchbooks, so overall I was happy using a lot of water on this paper.
  • Colours appear to remain bright on this paper (very important for me)
  • The textured side of the paper is great for smooth washes and allows for good granulation.  
  • The smoother side was okay for smooth washes as well but created some fine spotty texture – initially I thought the paper was pilling, but it was just the pigment settling the indents on the paper surface. The smoother side created more hard edges and marks, so it was better for me when working wet in wet.  I enjoyed doing sketches with multiple layers on the smooth side.

Here is a test of the smooth vs textured side of the page which shows the difference between the two.

Summary: I really enjoyed using this book. I always like a square format and the paper performed well for me.  I was surprised that the difference in texture across a spread didn’t bother me much, and in fact, I thought it was quite fun to use. I think this is because the pen worked well regardless of the texture so I didn’t notice a huge difference while working. 

Here is a collection of sketches done in this book ( click to see at a larger scale). These are all photos (rather than scans) so the paper colour varies a little.

You can see more pages in full from this sketchbook here.


I really enjoyed using this book and I’m keen to try the larger square size (a 30x30m square format sounds great). I was pleased with the paper – it fitted my requirements for an ‘everyday sketchbook’ for both ink and watercolour. I’m a little concerned about the binding issues other people had, but as mentioned above, my book performed well.

If you are someone who doesn’t mind a little buckling and can cope with some mild texture change between the front and the back of the paper then this book is definitely worth trying.

Let me know in the comment section if you have used this book and your thoughts about using it… or if you have any questions.

Finally: If you use these books can you please share where you buy them in the comment section. This will help other people source them – thanks!

Other recent sketchbook reviews: Kunst & Papier Watercolour Book Hahnemuehle NostalgieHahnemuehle Watercolour



  • Hi Liz, thanks for a great review. In general I agree, it’s a really nice sketchbook. But I have had a couple of incidence where the watercolour has bled through the paper. I use fountain pens and watercolours, but are now a bit cautious about the amount of water i splash onto the pages. But a side from that, it’s a really nice sketchbook. – Tomas

  • artiskalai says:

    It doesn’t say if its acid free on the sketchbook or in the description from the store where I bought it (from Germany). I am pretty they would say if it was acid free since its a selling point. So I am in doubt whether to use this sketchbook after getting it! Do you know for sure if its acid free or not?
    Thanks much for so generously sharing of your knowledge.

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