Sketchbook Index: Sizes, formats and brands that I've used over the years

August 13, 2021 | 9 Comments

I’ve been wanting to create this type of index for ages! Having a few people ask me in a livestream earlier this week (part of the Group Run-through from Sketchbook Design) about smaller sketchbooks and spiral books was a good motivation to put this together.

As I store my sketchbooks so that you only see the edge, it looks as if I use a lot of the same sketchbooks, but there is a lot of variety within my collection. So this article indexes the different brands, sizes and formats that I have used since starting to sketch in Jan 2007.

It’s still a work in progress as I still have lots of tags to add to existing blog articles, and more sketchbook types to track down. So I will be updating this page from time to time.

It can be easily found in the future under Sketchbooks in the Sketching Tools section (accessed via the main menu) If you don’t know about this part of my blog, please go and check it out as it contains lots and lots of materials information! 🙂

A few important articles about my personal preferences

It’s important to note that a few very popular sketchbooks (with good paper) do not suit my style of sketching. So these articles are important reading before you take notice of my opinions! 🙂

You might also like to check out the Paper demo inside my SketchingNow Watercolour course – it’s in Lesson 4.

Detailed Reviews of Sketchbooks

I have done a number of detailed reviews of sketchbooks that I’ve used. This link will take you to all of my review articles

Size and Format

I switch between various formats frequently and enjoy them all. I have a slight preference for portrait books as they take up less room when open and have lots of interesting compositional options. There is still a lot of tagging and sorting still to do… but here is a start:

  • A4Portrait – my new favourite sketchbook format for travel sketchbooks. I used them during my 2021 Road Trip and my 2019 Europe Trip
  • A5Portrait – includes 5.5 x8.5″ sizes as well (this is the standard format in the early years, so there are many more articles still to be tagged!)
  • A6Portrait – small books don’t suit me these days but there are a few examples in my collection.
  • 8x10Portrait – this is my current favourite format for my everyday sketchbook so there are many more articles still to be tagged!!! (Understatement of the year!)
  • A4Landscape – used extensively as a travel sketchbook since 2012 (still have many more articles to tag!)
  • A5Landscape – includes 8.5 x5.5″, 10 x7″ sizes as well. I used this more in the early days (see my first blogpost here)
  • A6Landscape (Note: I showed an early A6 Moleskine (from 2008) during the livestream this week – check it out here)
  • Square (various sizes) – I haven’t found the perfect size square book yet, so I only use them occasionally!


Most of my sketchbooks have been either hardbound or softcover. I love the support of a hardbound book but the reduced weight of a softcover is a big deal for an everyday sketchbook. I don’t have tags for hardcover vs softcover but here are a few specific articles.


Well, that should keep you going for a while. But what have I missed??? 🙂

Please leave comments in the comment section below. (If you are reading this via email, please click on the article title link below and add a comment on my blog. Thanks!)


  • Jamie C says:

    That’s quite the comprehensive list! Thanks for organizing it all for us!

  • Isabelle Lantieri says:

    Thank you ! So far I like the Stillmann&Birn, Moleskine. During my summer vacation I used one given by my daughter – it is CHU watercolor sketchbook 200gsm – cotton paper: I like the way watercolor stick to it and it come to different colors

    • Liz Steel says:

      HI Isabelle – never heard of CHU sketchbooks… something extra to add to my list to try! thanks 🙂

  • Margaret B ONGERS says:

    Liz…Thankyou for .all the information you so genorously share ?Ienjoy your Blogs so much. Margaret

  • Elaine Pang says:

    I have gone in for Seawhite of Brighton recently as a good quality yet affordable option. Strathmore also is another standby while Stillman and Birn remains top of the chart for quality.

  • I like the idea of putting the dates on the actual book block sides. Much easier to file, and find, that way despite different bindings. I have tried many different ones as well. Even though I bind my own now, I still use Seawhite of Brighton and Stillman and Birn now and then.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks for sharing Beverly – which Seawhite book – the watercolour one…. I’ve used that and need to add it to this index!

Leave a Reply