Sketchbook Review: Nostalgie sketchbook by Hahnemuhle

January 15, 2020 | 15 Comments

I’ve recently finished a Nostalgie sketchbook by Hahnemuhle and I absolutely loved using it!

Nostalgie paper is 190gsm very smooth white paper (no cotton content) which is similar to Stillman and Birn Epsilon and Zeta (in fact it’s midway in weight between the two). Here is a photo comparing the surface with the Hahnemuhle Watercolour book – note: the paper is whiter than it appears in this photo.

The sketchbook has a lovely textured dark grey cover and mine got a bit battered and dirty during the 3 weeks it took me to fill an A4 sized landscape book.

The book opens flat but binding came apart a little but nothing that I can’t live with. I personally like a ‘well-loved’ sketchbook.

The smooth paper took watercolour well, but as you would expect, it didn’t create a lot of granulation.

It did enable me to produce lots of fun ‘bad’ marks in my work, which is something I love. My watercolour paints were beautifully vibrant on this paper.


After struggling with using my fountain pens in the 100% cold press paper in the Etchr sketchbook (the last book I used) it was a real shock to use paper which was so smooth and easy to use with pen. The ink just glided over the surface – it’s gorgeous! The funny thing is that the ink flowed so well, that I found the medium gold nib in my Lamy White Joy flowed too much and created too thick a line. So I actually started drawing with a different Joy with a finer nib so I had more control.

I did some rough sketches using watercolour pencils as part of my teaching pages for my Sketching Architecture workshop and these worked out fine, although paper with little more tooth on the surface is is generally better for pencil work. BTW this is an exclusive look at one of my handout pages from my local workshops and shows the type of things I explain in detail in SketchingNow Buildings (2020 Group Run Through starting 15 Jan).

One of the things which is really nice about this smooth paper is that my sketches felt more slick and almost felt printed. I’ve really enjoyed flipping through my pages in this book. Impossible to show in an image, but it’s gorgeous to flip through and I just love the smoothness of the paper.

However there was a little transfer of ink and paint onto the opposite page (this happens with other smooth paper as well) but a normal eraser will lift that.

The one thing that was difficult for me was the size of the book. I would not normally choose to use an A4 landscape book as a everyday sketchbook. But Hahnemuehle sketchbooks are SO incredibly difficult to find in Australia that when I found this book (old stock) I bought it immediately. I’m used to using 150gsm paper for my everyday sketchbooks so the heavier weight felt a little more precious and this prevented me on some occasions from attempting a super quick rough sketch.

This was particularly the case when it came to drawing people (which I haven’t done much lately anyway.) It wasn’t until the last few days that I pushed through this crazy mental barrier and tried a few people sketches. I was surprised by how nice the Nostalgie paper was for my quick rough people sketches and I was getting some really fun textured effects. I’m totally kicking myself now that I didn’t try sketching people in this book sooner.

I normally struggle using A4 landscape for everyday sketching. When I come home from my big trips I have often tried to finish up my moleskine book with ‘back home’ sketches. But I normally abandon it as it’s just too big and hard to fill up with boring everyday sketches. Plus it is a little heavy to carry around everywhere.

However, I really enjoyed the challenge of using this format again and I produced some fun layouts. So overall I enjoyed the A4 landscape more than I expected.

Finally, here are some sketches to show the watercolour textures and wet-in-wet results I achieved on this paper. (click on images to view larger)


Summary: If you want to achieve smooth watercolour washes and work in a more traditional way this book might not be the best option. However, if drawing in ink is important to you and you’re happy with some fun watercolour textures and unexpected results, then I recommend that you consider trying this sketchbook for something different. I do believe that mixing up the paper you use is really good for your art.

I REALLY loved using Nostalgie and I’m excited that two weeks ago I discovered that Parkers in The Rocks had some stock. So I bought a A5 portrait version and I can’t wait to try it. I also want to revisit Stillman and Birn Epsilon and Zeta so that I can make a more informed report on any differences. It will never become my standard go-to everyday sketchbook, but for a bit of variety it is perfect.

And, I have to also prepare a review on the Hahnemuhle Watercolour sketchbook which I have also used recently… and spoiler alert – I loved that book too. So stay tuned…

Have you used Nostalgie? I would love to hear what you thought about it. Also, please let me know in the comments section below if you have any questions about the book.


  • Yvonne Carpenter says:

    Hi Liz! Thank you for the feedback on the Nostalgie book. I got a couple of them in 2018 during the Sketchkon in Pasedena (you were there!). I think they are very similar to S&B Epsilon, although I have not used them extensively like you have. I LOVE how the fountain pen glides easily on it too – I am not a fan of cold press paper! I will try more watercolor on it – I was afraid of using more than a simple small wash on it for fear of buckling, but if it did not buckle for you (much), it should be fine – heading to the 2020 Buildings run-thru lesson 1 now -very exciting!!

  • Flory says:

    Thanks for the review, Liz! You have interested me in trying this Nostalgie paper. I wanted to ask about buckling, too. Would you please compare that factor with S&B Alpha and Beta papers? Cheers! Flory

  • Great review! I’ve been using the Nostalgie book for quite a while now, and was thrilled when they came out with Nostalgie postcards too. I usually prefer cold press or rough to hot press, but this paper will take almost anything you throw at it. I love it.

  • Great review Liz, I’m not surprised you loved it. Your colors look so wonderfully vibrant on it, can’t wait to see your watercolor book from Hahnemühle review!

  • Heather Austin says:

    Thanks for the review Liz, I’ll have to check them out. I love the S&B Epsilon paper, but the transfer (which can also be removed with the eraser) is a little frustrating. I agree there is something about drawing on smooth paper…. So we just need a sketchbook that has smooth paper for sketching, paper that allows granulation & watercolour magic for the paint and doesn’t transfer. We don’t ask for much do we (or I in this instance) LOL!

  • Julia says:

    Very interesting! I have a block of HM Nostalgie and I mainly use it for ink drawings, but now I will try out if I like it for watercolor, too. Thank you for sharing, Liz!

  • Anne Marie Percival says:

    I bought one of these two years ago (A5) and abandoned as too smooth… but you have inspired me to get it out of the cupboard and give it another go. Thanks!

  • Kate Powell says:

    The Nostalgie is my go-to book, the one I have in my bag and by the bed. One thing that is a bit hard for me is the high cost of watercolor books. I can’t afford to just screw around in them. So the Nostalgie is a nice midway book — in the states it typically runs about $4 less per book for Nostalgie versus the Watercolour… Nostalgie isn’t “meant” for watercolor — it is a sketchbook — but the paper takes a watercolor wash pretty well (I clip, and up to two washes as long as I don’t fuss, as you say) and at the A5 landscape size (my fooling around size) I find it comfortable to do business sketches and watercolors and not think about it — I always have one with me. I love the paper for ink… it has enough tooth (not a fan of hot pressed) yet takes the pen so well!

    I also have both A5 and A4 Watercolour books which I take with me when I am going out for a sketch. And the books are workhorses — I have had Fabriano and Pentallic fall apart on me fairly fast, but only once in a bookcase full of Hahnemuhle did one pop some threads at the end…

    I want them to amke a bamboo sketchbook, landscape hard bound — I really love their bamboo paper.

  • I am using one for usk meetings. I am not too enthusiastic about the smooth paper, it feels a bit ‚dead‘ when used with watercolor. The A5 portrait format is also not my favourite. I need to learn what suits me, only started sketching habits last September. I don’t think I will use one of these Nostalgie again.
    What I really love is a more square format and some light paper texture, so I‘ll probably try the „Papier und Kunst“ next.
    Most heavily used for me is a Seawhite square, that I like a lot for the format although the paper is also smooth.
    Since September 2019 I started 8 different sketchbooks ??? For watercolor, grey paper, brown paper, small, big, for sketching…
    Now I am looking forwared to actually FINISH one of them. ?
    Think the Seawhite will do the trick during the foundations course.
    The course is great, thank you so much!! ?

Leave a Reply