Great sketchbooks to help you chronicle your life through art

people drawing and drinking coffee
Practice your skills with the right tools.Rachael Gorjestani via Unsplash

Many of the world’s most recognizable and beloved works of art started with a simple sketch. A quality sketchbook allows artists of any level to perfect lines and gestures, work on control and coordination, and explore bold ideas before committing paint to canvas or stylus to tablet. When choosing the right sketchbook for your creative practice, you’ll want to consider the binding, overall size, and the weight and suitability of the paper for watercolors, pencils, or ink. Here are our top picks.

Strathmore 455-3 400 Series Sketch Pad, 9″x12″
Where will your imagination take you?Amazon

The 9 inch by 12 inch dimensions of this classic 100-sheet sketchbook offer plenty of room, whether you want to take up a whole sheet with a figure study or do a series of quick drawings of people in the park on a Sunday afternoon. The 89 gsm (grams per square meter) acid-free paper works with dry media from graphite pencils to soft pastels and charcoal. If you find bound sketchbooks frustrating, the spiral binding makes it easier to get sheets to lie flat, and each sheet is also micro-perforated so you can tear out your work to crumple or frame, depending on the day.

Field Artist 4 in. x 4 in. Square Watercolor Journal
Portable portraiture.Amazon

If you love to take your palette outdoors to work on plein air paintings, this compact square sketchbook is the perfect companion. It’s just four inches by four inches in size, but the paper is an impressive 200 gsm and can hold watercolors as well as ink. The faux-leather binding contains 40 sheets of paper (80 pages if you use both sides), but you will have to take more care with this little book than something that’s spiral-bound.

Moleskine Art Sketchbook, Hard Cover, A4
Your year, in pages.Amazon

If your artistic practice includes written word and drawings in pen, marker, graphite, and other dry media, this stylish 96-page sketchbook is a good choice. The paper is 165 gsm and the book measures an A4-sized 8.25 inches by 11.75 inches. Moleskine’s signature elastic and binding is designed for travel and daily use, so tuck this into your backpack or messenger bag for impromptu documentation of your thoughts and surroundings. When you dedicate your book to a specific project or period of time, it can become a definitive artwork all on its own.

LEUCHTTURM1917 344675 Sketchbook Master (A4+)
Inspire yourself.Amazon

This UK-based company makes beautiful and colorful notebooks that evoke creativity before you even touch your pencil to the page. At 8.85 inches wide and 12.4 inches in length, this sketchbook is more generous than A4 sizing and has 96 pages of bright-white 180 gsm paper ready for you to fill with dry media. Choose solid colors from army green to orange and azur to distinguish each project you’re exploring, and keep track of where you’ve left off with the elegant ribbon bookmark.

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