Best Watercolor Sketchbook

Whether you are a professional artist that is looking at new resources, or you simply just like to create, you are probably wondering about some of the best medium combinations to get the best out of your work. A popular artistic medium is watercolor, and it might be trickier to use on normal paper than you might think if you haven’t used this method before.

Due to the amount of water that is required in the process, the normal paper is not able to withstand the moisture, and it will start to fall apart before your creation if finished. If you are really slow and careful, you might be able to make it work, but the paper will often curl up, and your art piece definitely won’t be looking the best that it could.

To combat this problem, you can actually opt to use a watercolor sketchbook, which has paper that is specifically designed to withstand the required medium, and it will work much better than standard paper. You will likely also find that your work looks more professional and less messy as the paper is much more reliable. Watercolor sketchbooks range in price, so there is likely a great option available for every budget, and we are going to leave our list of the best ones available for you to look at.

In a Rush?

We can understand why you might be in a rush to get your hands on a watercolor sketchbook, especially if you have a creative piece in mind that you want to start working on straight away. To help you be able to make a quick decision, we will leave our top pick here for your convenience.

The best watercolor sketchbook that we have found is the Arches watercolor paper pad with a cold press finish. 

This sketchbook is the most common type of sketchbook, and it has a cold press finish that many artists love to work on. This finish only boosts the color performance of the watercolors that you use, and the paper itself is much more resilient and is able to withstand the use of water easily. 

  • This sketchbook features a cold press finish that is the most commonly used type
  • The finish helps to boost the overall color performance of the piece
  • This type of paper is much more resilient, strong, and durable
  • The paper that has been used is designed to be of high quality

OUR TOP PICK

Arches Watercolor Paper Pad, 140 pound, Cold Press, 9'x12'

The cold press finish is the most popular type of watercolor sketchbook that Arches has to offer, and the finish creates a light texture that is great for its purpose. It is able to reflect light really well and is able to retain the transparent quality of watercolors.

The colors can only look better using this type of paper, and the light grain actually makes it much easier to achieve certain details. The paper undergoes significant testing and monitoring, with each individual sheet being inspected, in order to make sure that only the finest quality is being produced. 

The type of molded paper that has been used to make this sketchbook has long fibers to make the paper thicker and the sheet provides stability while you work. It is both durable and resilient, and won’t disappoint you when you are creating your watercolor piece.

Each sheet of Arches watercolor paper is soaked in natural gelatin and then air-dried to help make it stronger and more durable. Additionally, every sheet of this paper is made from 100% cotton fibers to ensure that the colors will not bleed and the paper will not warp during use.

Each sketchbook contains 12 sheets of 300 GSM paper that measures at 9 by 12 inches in size. In order for this natural white and acid-free paper to be stable enough for the watercolor medium, they have to be designed on a classic cylinder mold.

The process used to make the paper ensures that it will not tear if it gets scratched and that your paints will retain their natural sheen when used with this pad. The final thing that you need to know about this product is that the paper has been treated to prevent a buildup of mold.

Pros

  • The cold press finish creates a light texture that is perfect for use with watercolors
  • The light grain of this paper makes it easier to achieve certain details
  • The paper is tested and monitored to make sure that it is the best quality
  • The paper is made from 100% cotton to ensure that the colors won’t bleed
  • The pages will not warp during use like other paper types
  • Due to the manufacturing process, the paper will not tear when scratched

Cons

  • Some customers have noted that the paper has a strange smell to it

EDITORS CHOICE

Canson 100510941 XL Series Watercolor Pad, 1 Pack, Multicolor

This watercolor sketchbook comes with 30 sheets of natural white and acid-free paper that has the favored cold press textured finish. It is highly recommended that you use this sketchbook with watercolors, but it will also work well with acrylic, pens and markers, pencils, pastels, and charcoal.

The surface of the paper is durable and is able to withstand repeated washes, and the cold press finish of the paper is perfect for a variety of different techniques.

This type of sketchbook is also available in three other sizes, and it is designed to appeal to any artists that have a passion for water media. The 300 GSM  paper is more than ideal for a variety of watercolor and mixed media techniques, and these heavyweight sheets are ideal for beginners and professionals. 

Pros

  • This sketchbook holds 30 sheets of natural white and acid-free paper
  • While watercolor is best, you can use this paper for a variety of other mediums
  • The surface of the paper is durable and able to withstand repeated washes
  • This sketchbook is also available in three other sizes if needed
  • These heavyweight 300 GSM sheets are ideal for both beginners and professionals

Cons

  • Customers have labeled this as a medium-quality product that is not the best for those who are working at a professional level

BEST VALUE

Arteza Watercolor Paper Pad Expert, Watercolor Sketchbook 5.5x8.5 Inch, Pack of 3, 30 Sheets Each, Spiral Bound, 140lb/300gsm Cold Pressed Acid Free Painting Paper for Dry & Mixed Media

When you purchase this product, you actually get three sketchbooks for the price that some companies charge for one. You are definitely getting great value for money with this product, and each sketchbook has 90 pages that you can use.

This allows you to practice with different styles and techniques until you are completely happy with what you are creating. This is also great for beginners, as there is plenty of room to practice. This type s of paper is perfect for most wet and dry media types.

This company is providing professional quality paper at an affordable price, and the paper itself is thick and heavy to allow it to withstand multiple washes without any warping or colors bleeding through.

The texture is perfect with its cold press finish that is neither too rough nor too smooth. It can be used for both large washes and finer detail without any problems.

If you are concerned that your artwork will fade over time, you don’t have to be anymore. Each of these drawing pads is 100% acid-free, which means that the colors will stay rich and vibrant.

Your purchase will also come with a satisfaction guarantee. Arteza is so confident that you will love their product that they guarantee you a refund or replacement if you are unhappy with the product that you receive. 

Pros

  • You get great value for money with the three sketchbooks that are included
  • Each sketchbook has an impressive total of 30 pages, which is high compared to others
  • This type of paper is perfect for most wet and dry media types
  • You will be getting professional quality paper at an affordable price
  • The paper is 100% acid-free, which means that the colors will stay vibrant
  • Your purchase also comes with a customer satisfaction guarantee

Cons

  • None that we could find

RUNNER UP

Faber-Castell Watercolor Paper Pad - 15 Sheets (9 x 12 inches)

This watercolor paper pad is designed using heavyweight paper that is specifically designed to be used with watercolors, and it can also be used with pencils, crayons, and other paints.

There are 15 sheets of this paper that are included in the sketchbook, and they have a cold press finish that allows for more professional results.

The sketchbook is made using recycled materials, including 90% cotton and up to 50% post-consumer recycled materials. It is perfect for all ages and skill levels, and you can create some stunning and vibrant watercolor designs on this paper, no matter your artistic ability.

The paper is both premium and high-quality, which ensures that you can get the very best out of your art.

Pros

  • The watercolor sketchbook uses heavyweight paper that can be used for other materials
  • There are 15 sheets of paper included with this sketchbook
  • It uses a cold press finish for more professional results
  • This sketchbook is also made using recycled materials
  • This is the perfect material for people of all ages and skill levels
  • The paper is both premium and high quality for the best possible results

Cons

  • You will need to be careful when removing sheets of paper to ensure that they don’t tear

RUNNER UP

64 Pages Watercolor Paper Pad 9'x12' Inches for Watercolor Paint and Watercolor Pencils - 2 x 32 White Sheets 140lb 300g

This set of two watercolor pads will allow you to creatively express yourself through your chosen art medium of watercolors while aiding you in the process. There is a total of 64 sheets of high quality and thick paper included with your purchase.

This type of paper will allow you to keep your chosen colors vibrant for much longer due to the acid-free quality that keeps designs richer and more vibrant over time.

It is super-easy to detach your creations from the sketchbook using the easy-tear on the short edge of the paper. This allows you to remove your creations without risking damage to the design. This is a great feature that not all sketchbooks have, so you can frame or sell your finished pieces if you choose to.

The quality of the paper is excellent, and you can even use other mediums, like pencils, pastels, inks, and other types of paint. 

Your purchase also comes with Zenacolor’s own personal satisfaction guarantee. The company feels that it is important for you to have the required medium to express your imagination, and if you are not happy with the product, you can get your money back.

Pros

  • You get two watercolor paper pads included with your purchase
  • There is a total of 64 sheets of thick and high-quality paper for you to use
  • This acid-free paper allows you to keep your designs vibrant for longer
  • The color payoff is much more accurate using a high-quality paper like this one
  • There is an easy-tear feature so you can easily remove your creations
  • Your purchase also comes with Zenacolor’s own satisfaction guarantee

Cons

  • This product may not be able to handle a water wash as well as others

Best Watercolor Sketchbook Buying Guide

If you have been looking for the best watercolor sketchbook, then you might be wondering what factors there are that might be important for you to consider. Knowing what makes the best quality watercolor sketchbook can help guide your decision-making, as you will know what you should look out for. We are going to explain everything that you need to know so that you can make the best decision.

Level of Skill

The first thing that you might need to think about is your skill level. There are sketchbooks that are more suited for beginners, and there are sketchbooks that are more suited for professional artists. The good news is, that no matter your skill level, there will be a great choice out there for you. 

Affordability

Another thing to think about is the cost. If you are just starting out on your watercolor adventure, then you should probably look for a mid-range product that isn’t too expensive.

This is because watercolor paper pads usually only come with around 15 sheets of paper, though some do have more, and as a beginner, you are going to need lots of room to practice. If you are going through pages and pages while practicing on an expensive pad, then the costs are going to add up quickly.

 We would recommend finding a cheaper alternative and then moving on to something more professional as your skills progress.

Weight

The weight of the paper is also more important than you might originally think. If the paper that you are using is too light, it is like to bend out of shape as the piece starts to dry. The heavier the paperweight, the more unlikely this is to happen.

The last thing you want is to spend hours on a piece for it to be completely ruined after it has finished drying. To avoid this problem, always check the weight of the paper.

Typically, you should be looking for a paperweight of around 300gsm or 140lb as these are the ones that seem to hold up the best out of them all. This type of paper will even allow for a complete waterwash without warping the paper.

Typically, this weight is sufficient for the majority of watercolor artists. If you don’t tend to use water washes, and you don’t plan to have particularly complex designs, then you might be able to get away with paper that is 200gsm without any problems.

The Type of Paper

The type of finish that the paper has is also going to be important, and this is usually how you can determine whether or not it is the best type of paper for you. The most common type of finish for watercolor paper is the cold press finished. This is the most popular option that you are likely to come across the most frequently.

Some might see this as a limited choice, but this type of paper is usually the best type for the majority of watercolor art styles. However, there are actually other types of finishes that you can get your hands on. The three main types of finish for watercolor paper are hot-pressed, cold-pressed, and rough. As we have mentioned, cold-pressed is the most popular, but the other two types are great for other reasons.

Cold-pressed sketchbooks have a rougher texture that is great for using with watercolors, and they also have high absorbency to make sure that the water and color do not leak into the other pages that are in the book. They allow for vibrant colors that are long-lasting, and you won’t be disappointed with the quality that you receive.

You can also opt for hot-pressed watercolor paper, but you will also need to make sure that the paper is a good weight for it to be effective. Many people opt to use this type of paper for portrait watercolor projects.

The final option for watercolor paper is the rough type, which can also be handmade if you wanted to make it yourself. If you love a project, then you might want to have a look at making your own rough watercolor paper.

WonderStreet is not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this article. However, we sometimes receive a referral fee from online retailers when our readers buy on their website after clicking from our website to theirs. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases, which supports the operation of our blog and helps to keep all our content free for everyone. In any case, when we conduct our analysis, our intention and focus is to remain objective and unbiased at all times.

What’s your favourite Watercolor Sketchbook? We’d love to hear from you... Please leave your comments below.

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