I recently found this article in my drafts. It appears that I was working on it in March, just before the pandemic hit and everything changed. So I’m happy to finally post it today!
Another book review – today it’s the Global Art Handbook Travelogue Sketchbook which is a very popular choice among Urban Sketchers.
I’ve been referring to this book as a Handbook Watercolour book for years but as Global Art was recently acquired by Speedball it is now called Speedball Travelogue Watercolour Travel journal. I know that I should start calling it a Travelogue book, but old habits die hard! To make matter’s more confusing, the Speedball site no longer uses the ‘Travelogue’ name.
Note: This review is based on using a sketchbook which I had bought years ago. I don’t know exactly when it was purchased so it is possible that the paper in the new stock might not be exactly the same.
Size and Format: I used a Square 8.25″ x 8.25″. It also comes in Pocket Panorama (3.5 x 8.25), Large Landscape (5.25 x 8.25), Large Portrait (8.25 x 5.25), Grand Portrait (10.5 x 8.25).
Weight: Square version – 445g (finished book)
Number of Pages: 30 sheets/60 pages
Binding: Hardcover, Sewn bound, opens flat. It has a black elastic strap and clear back pocket. No endpaper ( it has the same watercolour paper on the inside of front and back covers).
Cover material: Light linen fabric
Wear and tear: The cover of my book is a bit grubby but the book is in good condition. Note: It only took me two weeks to fill it up so it didn’t get a lot of use.
Summary: I really like the square format and how lightweight and portable the book is. Whilst I love the linen cover, I’m not so keen on how grubby it gets.
Fibres: Doesn’t say – so assume it’s 100% wood pulp (no cotton)
Paper Weight: 200gsm
Colour: Natural white
Texture: Cold press texture. In the book I just completed (and previous two from 2014 and 2017) there was a noticeable change in texture between the two sides of the paper. One side was significantly rougher with a strong diagonal grain.
Ink: Paper is okay for ink on the smoother side, but I really struggled to draw with my Sailor Fude pen on the rougher side of the paper.
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 really well for watercolour and is surprisingly robust for 200gsm. 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.
- Colours appear to remain bright.
- It allows for good granulation – on the rough side the paper texture is the main cause of the granulation. Note: I personally prefer less paper texture and more pigment separation.
- It’s good for smooth washes but very difficult for me to get the textures I want from working into damp areas. I had a number of watery messes in my sketches as a result. However most of the time I was able to adjust my usual way of working (wait for washes to dry before painting over the top) and achieve results that I was happy with.
Here is a test of the smooth vs textured side of the page – the writing was done rapidly and you can see some skipping on the textured side.
A local sketching friend recently showed me some weird effects in her latest book with areas of resist. I hope that this is an isolated incident.
Summary: I really like the square format of the book. The paper is lovely to paint on but doesn’t allow me to achieve the wet in wet effects I need for my quick sketching. However the main issue for me was the difference between the two sides of the paper and I found the rough side very difficult to use (especially for drawing).
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.
This is a very popular sketchbook with many urban sketchers and it’s a great book. If you are looking for paper which will produce smooth washes then I think this book would work really well for you. The square format is fantastic (perhaps my favourite format).
Note. My own preferences for creating wet in wet texture and having consistently texture on both sides of the page does not mean that this book will not suit a lot of other people.
Let me know in the comment section your thoughts about using these books and/or if you have any questions.
Finally: If you use these books can you please share where you buy them from in the comment section. This will help other people source them – thanks!