Sketchbook Review: Hahnemühle Watercolour Book (Akademie Aquarell)

February 14, 2020 | 25 Comments

I’ve been testing a lot of different sketchbooks lately and today I’m sharing my review of the Hahnemühle’s Watercolour Book – Akademie Aquarell


Size and Format: I used an A4 Landscape. Available A6, A5, A4 in portrait and landscape.

Weight: A4 size – 680g (finished book), A5 size – 300g (new)

Number of Pages:  30 sheets/60 pages

Binding: Hardcover, Sewn bound, opens flat. It has black elastic strap and ribbon bookmark. No back pocket. No endpaper (same watercolour paper on the inside of front and back covers)

Cover material: Dark grey fabric with vertical grain with some coating. I’m not exactly sure how to describe it, but it’s easy to wipe off any marks.

Wear and tear: Doesn’t show dirt and corners still looking good – very impressed by how good the cover looks. But I filled this book up in a single week so it didn’t get a lot of wear and tear!

Summary: I absolutely love the characteristics of this book and it’s very comparable with the A4 moleskine.



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

Paper Weight: 200gsm

Colour: Natural white

Texture: Nice smooth cold press texture which is the same front and back – yay! No strong linear grain (such as the Handbook Travelogue book)

Ink: Paper is great for ink – I used a variety of pens and they all worked great.

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 explanation of what I’m looking for so that I can achieve my quick urban sketches. Here are a few of my findings:

– takes a good amount of water with little buckling
– colours appear bright
– allows for good granulation
– fairly good for smooth washes (but naturally can’t compete with 100% cotton paper)
– holds up well to multiple layers and drawing over wet washes
– fairly quick drying (I think… but please note I used this book in December)
– able to give me reasonable variety of marks (something super important to me – I don’t like smooth washes) and I was able to adjust my technique by drying my washes a little so that I could achieve the results I wanted
– I was able to do a few very quick, rather wet direct watercolour sketches and I was pleased with the results
– seems to have a tendency to create backruns (I love backruns, so this was good!)

Summary: I really enjoyed using the paper in this book and it works well for a number of different techniques. At the time of writing this review, I still believe that the Moleskine paper suits my style of watercolour sketching the best, but I definitely want to use this book again (in the A4 portrait format) and give it another go.

Here is a collection of closeups of sketches done in this book (click to see at a larger scale).

And some full sketches. To see more sketches in this book please check out my City Break articles here and here.


I think this Hahnemühle Watercolour book is a fantastic sketchbook and I highly recommend it. The paper texture is lovely, consistent front and back and great to work with whether you are using ink, pencil or watercolour.

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!

Other recent sketchbook reviews: Kunst & Papier Watercolour Book  –  Hahnemühle Nostalgie



  • Suhita Shirodkar says:

    I like the Hahnemuhle a lot and it’s become my 2nd book in my bag along with a S&B Alpha or Beta.

  • Kate Powell says:

    My Go-to book… I like it better than the Moleskin, whose papers seem inconsistent. The books take a beating around our restoration studio and out of doors and I’ve never had one fail me — crack open — which is more than I can say for any of the other hard-cover books, all of which have cracked, and some cracked every time — and I prefer hard cover because then I don’t have to carry more paraphernalia to stabilize. I also love that I can use the first page and begin, and end — no end papers. I use A4 A5 landscape all the time. In the states Wetpaintart sells them — and is having a sale this weekend! $90 ships free in the USA. I also hear Merriartist (my favorite local and online store) is going to sell them — again, in the states.

  • Fiona Campbell says:

    Did you find your colours stayed true once they dried on this paper ? I’ve been testing Hahnemeule’s Cezanne paper and found that colours seemed to die away when dry, leaving a sketch looking slightly faded.

  • Suzannd says:

    Always available at The Art Scene, Ryde

  • Marianne says:

    Some Dutch sites where I usually buy them are “Van Beek Art” and “Gerstaecker”. Also “De Kwast”.

  • Hahnemühle now has a „Toned Watercolour Book“, marketed towards urban sketchers. I suspect it to have the same paper, only in grey and beige (also I find the beige to be more of an apricot colour). As far as I know it is relatively new:
    I use the tiny book in beige for playing with mixed media journaling, and think the paper can take quite a lot. But I do like to use my watercolours quite wet, and then the pages buckle intensly. But I am not proficient at all when it comes to art, so maybe it‘s just me using my art supplies in completely the wrong way.
    One the page is dry again buckling calms down and with some compressing everything gets pretty flat once again.

  • I’m tempted to switch from Moleskine! I have been using Moleskine watercolour sketchbooks for probably 4-5 years now, and it was always fantastic. But I recently got the A4 portrait format and the paper is a disaster – scratchy (fountain pens) and blotchy (watercolours). It’s just been so frustrating. I’m probably going to switch to Stillman & Birn Beta, but I’m wondering if this Hahnemühle sketchbook would be a good alternative for me?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Marie-Helene. It’s so disappointing about the quality of the Moleskine paper. I think you would enjoy the Hahnemuhle – I find it nicer to use that Beta

      • leideke says:

        I use both Hahnemuhle and Beta. I find the Beta is less forgiving in watercolor. Washing out little mistakes is hard almost impossible. With the Hahnemuhle hower washing out is no problem.

      • Liz Steel says:

        Hi Leideke – yes, agree with you about Hahnemuhle vs beta. I can’t get Beta to work for me although a lot of people love it!

  • Sabine Koch says:

    There is sadly no A4 portrait. Only landscape. I like the paper, but I would like to have formats and sizes to choose from. :-/

  • Miranda Dettwyler says:

    I just bought this in A4 landscape from Ditta G Poggi in Roma and am very glad to hear that you liked it so much!

    I have been using a Fabiano sketchbook most recently, but found the paper very variable and am hoping to have a more consistent experience with this one.

  • John Sauter says:

    I have replaced my everyday carry sketchbooks with 2 A6 and 1 A5 versions of the Hahnemuhle sketchbooks. I like their versatility with inks, markers, and watercolors. I’ve found them through Amazon and Hyatt’s All Things Creative (their main store/warehouse is nearby).

  • Francisco Jofré says:

    This is the best sketchbook I’ve tried so far (and believe me I’ve tried several…) it’s highly recommended.
    I buy it at Jallut store in Geneva.

    Greetings from Switzerland (I love your blog!)


  • Alejandro Sevilla says:

    Hi Liz, I like this sketchbook but I would like to know your opinion of Arteza sketchbook? Thanks

    • Liz Steel says:

      I dont know about that sketchbook.. adding it to my list. But just for the record my ‘sketchbook to try’ list is already fairly long 🙂

  • Isabelle Bézagu says:

    Hi Liz!
    Some French sites where I usually buy them are “” and “”

  • Barbara A. says:

    Seems they will very soon bring a new sketchbook: 100% Cotton, Coldpressed, 250gsm, 30 sheets/60 pages. According to the photo they look very similar to the ‘normal’ ones, the label has a blue vignette added with the above details.
    (A6, A5,A4 all portrait and landscape).

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