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Finding a place to put all your art can be hard work. With each different medium needing slighting different types of paper to look their best. That’s why we have put together a list of the best mixed media sketchbooks we could find. These are sketchbooks that can do it all, whether you are using pencils, ink, markers or watercolors.
Mixed media sketchbooks are great for using as an art journal. Each day is different, so why be restricted to a single medium for your art. They are also great for the more casual artist. A one-stop-shop for all your art, without having to spend loads on the optimal paper for every medium.
So lets do it, let’s find a new home for all your artwork.
Best Mixed Media Sketchbooks
Moleskine Art Sketchbook
If you’ve ever thought of buying a notebook, journal or sketchbook you’ve probably considered a Moleskine product. Well renowned for making things of quality that feel great to use and are made to last. We thought Moleskine was a great place to start looking for the best mixed media sketchbooks.
The Moleskine Art Sketchbook is a beautiful hardback notebook. With 96 pages of 8.25 x 11.5 inch off-white paper giving a warm feel to any artwork. The paper is also FSC certified so you know it’s source responsibly. It is quite thick at 165gsm which means it stands up to light washes of wet mediums.
The sketchbook comes with a host of other useful features, such as lying flat when open. An accordion inner pocket, a ribbon bookmark and an elastic strap to hold the book closed.
To be honest you can’t really go wrong with anything from Moleskine. While the purists may say that the quality of their products has dropped over the year, we still think they are at or near the top of the market.
Stillman & Birn Beta Softcover Sketchbook
This is an offering from Stillman & Birn. This is for those that want to make no compromises in their mixed media sketchbook. Boasting extra heavyweight paper (270 gsm), this is a sketchbook that will stand up to watercolors and markers without a worry.
The softcover book has 28 sheets of this double sided paper to ensure wet performance. These pages are white and are acid, chloride and lignin-free. The stitched pages also lie completely flat when open, another desirable feature for wet mediums.
Intended for mixed media this sketchbook also works great with dry media. This is a true all-rounder.
Canson XL Series Mix Media Paper Pad
This is a handsome paper pad by Canson. The version we’ve picked is the Canson XL Series Mixed Media Paper pad. This comes in at 7 x 10 inches, with 60 sheets of acid free paper at a weight of 160 gsm (98 pound).
This is a great all round pad due to it’s heavy paper. This means that it can be used from sketching to light washes of watercolor or ink. When it comes to sketching the paper has the added benefit of both erases easily and cleanly. While bleed isn’t a really big issue when using this pad, some have found that markers, such as the popular Copic Markers, may go through. So your mileage may vary.
We should also mention that the pages in this notebook are microperforated. This means that it’s easy to remove work when necessary. This perforation can sometimes be torn accidentally, so if you are not one to remove artwork from a sketchbook you may want to look elsewhere.
Strathmore 500 Series Hardbound Mixed Media Art Journal
The Strathmore 566-8 is a very different style to the Canson. This is a slightly bigger (8.5 x 11 inches), and is beautifully hard bound. With 32 sheets of acid free paper at 190 gsm (90 pound). With the added luxury of 100% cotton paper this would make a lovely mixed media sketchbook.
One thing we loved about the journal is that it lays flat when open. This makes it super each to draw and sketch. Laying flat is even more important when using paints. The journal performs well with light washes of watercolor and some ink.
It does however fall a bit short with markers. A similar alternative is the 400 series. With it’s heavier paper made of a cotton cellulose mix will stand up better to wetting and is less likely to bleed through when using markers.
Leda Art Supply Perfect Premium Medium Sketch Book
This premium sketchbook from Leda Art Supply is built to last. With its unique textured cover, the whole thing just feels like it was made for the long haul. The cover also means that this mixed media sketchbook is water resistant, a feature we don’t see so often.
The sketchbook at 5.7 x 8.25 inches travels well with its relatively small size and weight. It comes with 160 pages of smooth cream color paper (130 gsm or 180 pound). The cream pages work to accent any color work you do.
Leda Art Supply also brings some other features in the sketchbook. It lays flat when open, making use of wet medium easier. A handy elastic to hold the pages together, and an accordian back pocket to store loose items.
While at this weight of paper the sketchbook isn’t meant for heavy wetting. This is still a viable option for those who occasionally dabble in watercolor painting or using inks.
We also think the mixed media sketchbook would make a great gift for any artist. This thread bound booth was built to last and could act as a wonderful art journal.
Travelogue Drawing Book
The Travelogue Drawing Book contains 128 pages of buff colored drawing paper at 130 gsm. It features a unique and durable woven cloth cover, as well as an elastic to hold the book shut.
The paper has a good tooth, so it accepts dry mediums such as pencil or charcoal well. It can also take light washes of watercolor without the paper buckling. The book comes in several sizes, but we think the large portrait at 8.25 x 5.5 inches is the perfect choice as a mixed media sketchbook.
This is a great choice for those who would like a handy travel companion. Perfect for dry media, with the choice to dabble in some wet when the mood strikes.
Here are some of the things worth keeping in mind when trying to find the best mixed media sketchbook for you. This also goes for sketchbooks and even journals in general.
Usually the starting point in this decision making process is taking a look at the kind of medium you will be using in the book. Generally dry and wet media work better with different weights and finishes of paper. This can go even more granular, i.e. there may be preferred paper for charcoal over normal pencil sketches.
As we are looking at mixed media sketchbooks, we need something that covers all the bases. This means that the paper won’t be perfect for one medium, but pretty great for anything we can throw at it.
Art paper is a whole world and definitely deserves a post of its own. But there are some simple things that you can look for when choosing paper for mixed media usage. Paper in mixed media sketchbooks need to work well with wet and dry media.
For dry media it needs to have a toothy surface, this allows pencils to lay down the required material. It also needs to be easy to erase and blend. Wet media requires a durable paper, this is generally a thicker (higher gsm) paper. This means the paper will not buckle when wet or crinkle when it dries.
Weight and Size
The weight and size of the notebook that you want to choose is a truly personal choice. It’s totally dependent on your goals for your sketchbook and the type of work you will be doing in it.
What kind of artwork will you be doing?
If you intend for it to be a mixed media journey of sorts, with small sketches and general experimentation then a sketchbook in the 6 x 8.5 inch range may be appropriate. If you are looking to do full pieces that could even be ripped out and displayed, then a larger (~8 x 11.5 inch book) may be a better choice.
Where will you be using this sketchbook?
Considering location when picking a mixed media sketchbook may seem strange but it’s all about portability. If you often find yourself working on the go, then a small and light book is the obvious choice. Something that can easily be packed into a backpack is a must. Larger sketchbooks are a great choice for those that know they will be working at home or in a studio.
Binding and Cover
Binding has an effect on how the sketchbook will lie. In a sketchbook that will include some wet media you want it to be able to lie flat. This is not always the case with bound books so you should make sure that it is specifically mentioned before purchasing. When it comes to laying flat, ring bound books are always a safe bet.
Where bound books win out is in terms of looks (in my opinion), permanence and feel. A well bound book feels like a piece of art in itself. When it comes to binding we recommend thread bound books as they tend to be more durable than their glued counterparts.
Covers are a completely personal choice. Hardcover, softcover or fabric. Sketchbooks come with a variety of choices. Some covers give the book extra durability by adding an element of water resistance. This is a neat addition, especially for those that use their sketchbooks on the go.
Don’t buy sketchbooks that look so good you’re scared to use it
This may feel a little counterintuitive but sometimes a brand new sketchbook that looks too nice can be a problem. Especially when you are just starting out, it can be intimidating and feel like you are “ruining” the book. Just remember sketchbooks are meant to be used. If you are likely to feel this way you may want to buy something a bit lower end. After all, the idea is to get creating, not to own a nice looking and empty book.
So there you have it. Mixed media sketchbooks are a great option for almost everyone for different reasons..
For beginners it’s a great way to trial different styles and is a great way to journal and track your progress as an artist. More seasoned artists may enjoy them as a place to experiment and try new things.
Mixed media sketchbooks also make fantastic gifts. They are a great way to get people making things without worrying about it having to be perfect.
So give it a go! Grab yourself a sketchbook and go create.