Often the idea for a sketch materializes when you are out and about, rather than at home surrounded by your best supplies. To avoid having to scramble to find a spare napkin and pen, invest in a pocket sketchbook or a fully equipped sketching wallet. Also handy for visual diarists and those who prefer to make art en plein air, portable sketchbooks must first be something you’ll actually carry with you—which comes down to size, quality of materials, durability, and of course attractiveness. Read our roundup of high performers below, and never again be without the means to capture your ideas when inspiration strikes.
1. Derwent Procolour Wallet
Derwent’s portable package not only contains the high-quality products that artists expect from this British brand, but it is also remarkably well designed. The zipperless black pouch contains colored pencils, graphing pencils, a sharpener, an eraser, and a sketchpad you can use without removing it from the pouch, making it easy to gather everything up when the train comes to your stop or the weather takes a turn for the worse.
2. Royal & Langnickel Keep N’ Carry Sketching Set
For sketchers more concerned with convenience than with top-quality materials, Royal & Langnickel’s wallet is a good choice. The zippered pouch is affordable and durable enough to throw in any pocket or bag without concern about damage. The included pencils are standard length despite the small package, so you will be set for months of usage without having to think about replacements. Note, however, that the sketchpad contains just 12 pages and will likely need replacing sooner.
3. Illo Fair & Square Sketchbook
What’s unique about Illo’s pocket sketchbook are the square pages—a small detail that makes a big difference if you share your artwork on Instagram. Beyond that, this is an above-average sketchbook with heavy pages that lie flat, an attractive hard cover, and a useful interior back pocket.
4. Moleskine Classic Notebook
Often, “pocket-size” art supplies are described aspirationally rather than literally—after all, 12-inch pouches will poke out of most pockets unless you’re wearing overalls. But Moleskine’s palm-size notebook hits that sweet spot: small enough to actually carry around in a pocket, large enough to provide ample space to sketch, and thick enough to keep you supplied day after day.
5. Arteza Watercolor Book
For the traveling watercolorist, Arteza makes a good pint-size pad to use with your self-watering brushes and travel palettes. Though marketed as an 80-sheet pad, it uses paper that doesn’t bleed through, so you can use both sides and get twice as much use out of this sleek and efficient product. Even sketchers should consider using these watercolor sheets if they are interested in using acid-free, long-lasting paper.