I first came across this book when I was travelling in Europe a number of years ago, and was reminded of it by my friend Yvonne recently. I bought this book from Newtown Art Supplies but have been told by a few people that it is available under Jacksons brand in black.
(Doing sketchbook reviews takes a long time so I’m trying a new streamlined approach in the hope that it will help me share my thoughts more easily. It’s great to be reviewing this book immediately after finishing it. )
Size and Format: Squarish format – 9.4 x 8.1″ (other sizes available)
Weight: 690 (finished book)
Number of Pages: 60 sheets/120 pages
Binding: Hardcover, Sewn bound, opens flat. No elastic strap. No back pocket. Blue grey endpapers – very nice!
Cover material: Dark blue fabric
Wear and tear: I used this book for 3.5 weeks and in that time the cover does have some marks/stains on it and the fabric on the corners are starting to wear.
Summary: This is a big sketchbook with a heap of pages and would take most people a long time to get through. It’s a little bigger and heavier than I would normally choose for an everyday book, but I did really enjoy the format. There is something very nice about having a big well-loved and used sketchbook. I really liked the squarish format and loved the book cover!
Fibres: 35% Cotton Fabriano
Paper Weight: 160gsm
Colour: Natural white
Texture: Nice smooth cold press texture which is the same front and back – yay! No strong diagonal linear grain (such as Handbook Travelogue – review coming soon) but there is a noticeable texture.
Ink: Paper is great for ink – I used a variety of pens and they all worked great.
Pencil: I did one sketch using watercolour pencil lines and the paper was nice to draw on, but I didn’t do any extensive pencil tests.
Watercolour: When I started using this book my thought was that ‘ the paper is fine’. This meant that I was able to do what I wanted but there wasn’t anything that made me say to myself “wow” or “nice!” (Yes, I talk to myself all the time when I’m sketching!) However by the time I was close to finishing the book I was really enjoying it and was sad to see it come to an end.
While I was using this book I was constantly thinking about how it compared with Stillman and Birn Alpha – my usual everyday sketchbook. Please see this article for explanation of what I’m looking for so that I can achieve my quick urban sketches.
Here are a few of my findings:
– The paper is only 160gsm so you would expect it to buckle when using watery washes. And yes! the paper did buckle. I felt as if it buckled more than Alpha. I rarely think about buckling when I use Alpha, but there were times when I felt the paper surface in this book was a little uneven and hard to write neatly. If I had used some clips to hold the book together tightly, the buckling might have been reduced. Note: I’m okay with some buckling as I love a well-used sketchbook feel and I also love the sound of buckled paper.
– Colours appear bright on this paper.
– It allows for good granulation – although the paper texture is a major factor in granulating areas.
– It was difficult to achieve smooth washes – the buckling didn’t help with this, causing valleys and subsequent backruns.
– I found the best results worked when I only did two layers of washes and didn’t fiddle (this is my style so this was not a big issue for me).
– Paint dried fairly quickly (I think… but please note I used this book in December – our summer)
– This paper allowed me to create a reasonable variety of marks (something super important to me – I don’t like smooth washes)
– I was able to do a few very quick, rather wet direct watercolour sketches and I was pleased with the results.
Note: There is a Fabriano Watercolour Book (see here for more about that book) with 300gsm 25% cotton paper. The paper in this K&P book is quite different being lighter in weight(160gsm) and with less sizing. I found the paper in this book easier to use.
Summary: Once I accepted the amount of buckling, I enjoyed using the paper in this book and it worked well for a number of different techniques. I really liked the blue cover, the format, the number of pages and the overall feel of the book as I worked through it. As mentioned above , towards the end of using this book I grew very attached to it. I have another smaller portrait size version which I look forward to using later in the year. So, I did enjoy using this K&P book a lot.
Here are my usual tests:
And for comparison, here are the same watercolour and ink tests done on Alpha:
Here is a collection of sketches(close ups) done in this book:
To see all the sketches in this post check out these posts or…
I think this Kunst and Papier sketchbook is a great everyday sketchbook. The paper texture is nice, consistent front and back and good for quick sketches whether you are using ink, pencil or watercolour. It would be a good choice if you want a sketchbook with many pages, want some nice granulation and textured washes and don’t mind a bit of buckling.
If you want to find out about some other sketchbooks here are a few that I have recently reviewed:
Let me know in the comment section below your thoughts about using these books and/or if you have any questions.