A good sketchbook will preserve your ideas, while a great one will do that and make you feel excited to fill it. Hardbound sketchbooks—filled with open, unlined pages—are lovely to have for how they look and feel, from their heavy covers to their binding. There’s a lot to consider when browsing the massive sea of such products, including paper quality, design, cover, and size. The one that works best for you may also depend on your preferred sketching medium. Whether yours is a place to illustrate observations, visualize concepts, or record memories, a quality hardbound sketchbook should keep your musings intact and ready for you to revisit years down the line.
1. Artway Studio Sketchbook
You get 46 pages of heavyweight, 105-pound paper in each of these hardcover sketchbooks, which come in three sizes—8½-by-11 inches, 11-by-14 inches, and 11.2 inches square. Each is clothbound in black long-fibered, high-strength Wibalin® paper, providing a pleasing, no-nonsense look. The paper has some tooth, and while it performs best with dryer mediums, it can still withstand light washes of wetter applications—although too much can result in rippled pages. Because each sheet is held together with robust binding, you won’t have to worry about losing any of your creations.
2. Strathmore Hardbound Sketch Journal
Here’s a sketchbook you can leave out on your desk to admire: finished with a handsome, matte brown cover, Strathmore’s product presents a sophisticated way to preserve sketches. The journal includes 96 pages bound with a stitch binding that is not only beautiful but strong enough to withstand the wear and tear of frequent use. The sheets themselves are made of a heavy 60-pound paper that has a satisfying coarse texture. You can easily use both sides if you stick to dry media, from ink pens to pastels (watercolorists might fare better with another option).
3. Premiere Pro Art Sketchbook
A great option for those who like to sketch on the go, this 4-by-6-inch book packs in 110 pages in a compact and durable design. This sketchbook is best used for drawing rather than painting, but is a perfect portable canvas for impressions and preliminary ideas. Its pages are white and smooth, and slightly thicker than printer paper so you can toss it in a bag without fear of tearing your art. It might take a little bit of encouragement to make it stay flat, but the sewn binding is strong enough to withstand back-and-forth bending. Note that the back is embossed with the brand’s name in gold, which might bother those who prefer a more minimal look.
4. Arteza Hardbound Sketchbook
The pages in this sketchbook are a little thinner than those of our other picks—markers, watercolors, and inkier pens will yield some bleed-through. Still, Arteza’s product is an overall heavy-duty choice, featuring 110 pages of 68-pound paper bound in a thick, faux-leather cover. Note that the sheets are cream-colored rather than pure white, which may be a drawback for some artists. One detail that really makes this sketchbook shine is the ribbon bookmark so you can conveniently pick up where you left off.
5. Canson Artist Series Sketchbook
This understated, 108-page sketchbook is a sturdy option that easily lies flat when open. The 65-pound, French-made paper simply feels good to draw on; it has a fine texture and is thick enough to receive markers and even paint, from watercolors to acrylics, with little bleed-through. If you prefer to stick with pencil, the high-quality paper makes it a breeze to erase and is able to withstand heavy rubbings.