This post contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. Read our disclosure to find out more.
Markers are a fun way of illustrating enjoyed by many. But finding the sketchbooks for markers can prove to be a difficult task. Markers are prone to bleeding on many types of paper, as well as showing through on the back side of the page. So what shall you do? Well worry not, we have done the hard work for you. Looking at qualities that make the best sketchbooks for markers as well as a selection of choices that you may like.
In a hurry? Here are our favorites
- We think this is the best sketchbook for markers
Best Sketchbooks for Markers
These are what we think are the best sketchbooks for markers on the market. For the most part they are available in a range of sizes, so whatever your choice you should find something that meets you needs.
Bee Creative Marker Book
Let’s start with the Bee Creative Marker Book by Bee paper. Bee paper is often the go-to when looking for paper to be used with markers, and their sketchbooks are just as good.
This is a spiral-bound art journal with a black chipboard cover for extra durability. Inside you will find 50 sheets of acid free, 110 lb (180 gsm) white paper. This paper has an ultra smooth finish that is specifically designed for use with markers.
The spiral binding allows the notebook to be easily laid flat when in use, which is a key quality for any good notebook. The cover also provides a little weight, preventing the book from moving around on a table. In general, the Bee Creative Marker Book is a fantastic sketchbook tailor made to be used with markers. It is more than capable of handling anything you throw at it, and I’m sure it will make a happy home for your artwork for years to come.
Strathmore Softcover 500 Series Mixed Media Art Journal
Strathmore is a mainstay in the sketchbook world. Unsurprisingly, they also make some of the best sketchbooks for markers. We particularly like the softcover 500 series mixed media art journal. As the name would suggest this is a highly versatile sketchbook, developed for use in a mixed media context. But it just so happens to have all the characteristics that also make it great for use with markers.
The book that we would recommend comes in at 8” x 5-½”, with 64 pages of 90 lb (190 gsm) paper. As the paper is intended for mixed media it comes in the vellum flavor, meaning it has a slight tooth to it. This level of texture is no problem for makers and even preferred by some. The paper itself is of the high quality that you would expect from Strathmore. Pages are made with 100% cotton fiber, as well as being lignin and acid-free. This adds up to a journal that has been made to last, with some genuine archival qualities.
Speaking of made to last, both the cover and binding are of the highest quality. The binding is Smyth-sewn for the highest durability, as well as allowing the book to lie flat in use. The book also has a velvety softcover. It feels great to the touch and the dark brown color makes for a handsome look.
Overall, the Strathmore Softcover 500 Series Mixed Media Art Journal is a great workbook. It has all the qualities that you would want for a sketchbook for markers, as well as allowing you the flexibility to use other media if you so desire.
Bienfang Graphics 360 Marker Paper
In a slight change the Bienfang Graphics 360 Marker Paper is actually a sketchpad rather than a sketchbook. This is an interesting proposition because at only 13.5 lb (50 gsm) you would not think that this paper would be suitable for use with markers. But this paper is a specialized translucent marker paper designed specifically for the job.
This particular Graphics 360 Marker Paper comes in at 9” x 12” and has 100 Sheets (though other options are available).We should note that the use case for this paper is a little specialized, but when used properly this is a fantastic choice. Intended for use when doing marker sketches or preliminary drawings. The translucent nature of the paper allows for the underlying of alterations. Essentially, this paper allows you to forgo a lightbox.
Colors remain true on the Bienfang Graphics 360 Marker Paper, with the paper also allowing for layering and blending of colors. With the thin nature of the paper you will need to underlay it with white paper in your portfolio, but in certain use cases it can’t be beat.
This paper is not for everyone, but those who have this use case will love it!
Crescent RendR No Show Thru Sketchbooks
Back to a more conventional sketchbook. This time we’re looking at the RendR No Show Thru Sketchbook. This is another offering that was designed specifically for markers, and we think it’s one of the best sketchbooks for markers out there.
There are a few variants of this notebook but we think the 11” x 8-½”’, hardbound sketchbook is a pretty safe bet. Containing 96 pages and a hardback cover this is a sketchbook that is made to last. This is not even to mention the paper. The paper is very special in that there is no show through at all when using markers. Even solvent markers! As in actually no bleed through. This is pretty great as it allows you to use both sides of the page, meaning this sketchbook will make a great art journal.
We think RendR No Show Thru Sketchbook is worth the try, just to use this remarkable paper. We know that hardback isn’t for everyone though, so if the stiff cover is not your cup of tea then there is also a “lay flat” option. This is a sketchbook with a softcover that has been optimized to allow it to lay flat. Great stuff all round.
Borden & Riley Paris Paper for Pens Sketchbook
Last but certainly not least is the Paris Paper for Pens Sketchbook. Borden & Riley doesn’t offer a lot of choice here, with just the 1 sku but luckily it’s a pretty great choice. With a landscape sketchbook of 9” x 12”, spiral bound, with 40 sheets of 108 lb (176 gsm) paper. This is the great little sketchbook.
The paper is bleedproof meaning that lines on the smooth bright white page are crisp. Great for intricate detail or technical drawings. There is no feathering or breaking of lines.
As we said the notebook is spiral-bound meaning it will easily lay flat. There is also the addition of a micro-perforation of the paper. This means that pieces can easily be removed if you so wish.
All in all the Paris Paper for Pens Sketchbook is a great little hardback notebook. Well worth a look it takes your fancy.
Alternatives to Sketchbooks for Markers
While sketchbooks are great for art journals, and general creative work – they can often be limiting in terms of the ability to display your pieces when you are done. For that reason we decided to throw in an alternative to the marker specific sketchbook in case your needs are slightly different.
Strathmore Sequential Bristol Board
Bristol boards it the surface of choice for many marker users. In many ways it’s closer to cardboard than paper. With plys of paper that have been glued together, it provides a perfect surface for markers to be used on.
One such Bristol is the Strathmore Sequential Bristol Board. We really like their plate sheets, which provide a 2-ply, 100% cotton, acid free sheet to work with. The plate finishes really smooth allowing for fine details and working great with markers in general.
The Sequential Bristol Board is well worth a look. Providing a surface that allows for crisp lines, and fine details. While also preventing bleeding. Furthermore, being a loose sheet means that you have more options for your work when you are finished. Be it for display, scanning or something else.
Buyers Guide – Buying a Sketchbook for use with Markers
Now it’s time for us to walk through all the things to look for if you fancy looking for sketchbooks on your own. We split this advice into two main sections. Things that are universal in the best sketchbooks for markers, and the things that are more down to preference and up to you to decide.
What Makes a Sketchbook Work Well With Markers?
There are some key characteristics that make sketchbooks great for use with markers. For the most part this is centered around the paper, as this is where the most trouble arises with normal paper (paper that allows markers to bleed is no fun). Here are some things to look out for in the search for the perfect sketchbook.
Surface Finish / Texture
When it comes to markers you want a paper that has a smooth texture. This allows the marker to move freely along the surface without interruption. It also makes detailed work easier to carry out. Smooth paper can be found under several names; smooth, hot pressed and plate being most common.
Paper weight is a little tricky as we are looking for a middle ground. Paper needs to be thick enough to not immediately let your markers show through. While not too thick so as to become an absorbent and bleeding nightmare.
We think it best to look for something around the 110 lb (180) gsm mark. This is lighter than say watercolor paper, while being thick enough to not let your markers show through.
When it comes to quality we are most concerned by the material used to manufacture the paper. For the very best you want something that is 100% cotton (sometimes referred to as “rag”). Alongside being cotton you are also best off getting something that is lignin and acid-free. Leftover acid in particular can affect the archival quality of the paper, causing it to yellow over time.
Lastly we come to some real world characteristics. These are the kinds of things that you can only find out by using the sketchbook yourself (or by reading a review like this one!).
The best sketchbooks for markers have paper that behaves well when layering and blending color. These are key techniques when using alcohol markers. We also want a paper that does not allow for our pens to bleed. This can be a little difficult to figure out, as this is not only paper, but also marker dependent. So it’s well worth reading lots of reviews to find out how the paper reacts to your pens in particular.
Finding a Marker Sketchbook That Works for You
While there are some general rules to follow when finding the best sketchbooks for markers, there are also some details that are completely up to the user (that’s you!). These are things to consider to make sure that you get the most out of your new sketchbook and that it properly fits your intended use case.
Size is pretty simple. Things to weigh up are factors such as portability and the scale of work you are hoping to do. You may well want something small for sketches on the go. For sketchbooks that will live in an art studio or bedroom you may want to get something bigger.
Similarly it’s important to think about the scale of work that you like to do. If your work is generally large pieces that may even require a double spread to fit, then the choice should be obvious.
Binding and Cover
There are a number of different choices out there when it comes to both the binding types and cover materials available for your sketchbook. These can have a surprising effect on what it feels to use your sketchbook as well as other factors such as longevity of the book.
There are a few different types of bindings that are commonly used in sketchbooks. They vary in their durability so it’s important to know what you are getting.
Sewn + Glue – this is the most common type of binding found in sketchbooks. As the name implies this binding involves sewing several sets of paper together. These sets are then glued into the cover. This creates a durable bind that tends to last well. This type of binding can prove stiff when new, so you may need to “break it in” before your sketchbook will lay flat.
Spiral – spiral or ring bound sketchbooks are also common. This type binding is easy to lay flat which makes it really easy to work in. With a little care sheets can also be removed which can be useful. Spiral bound notebooks are a little less durable, with the rings having a tendency to bend when being stored in a bag. Also in some cases the pages can start to rip from the spiral which is not ideal.
Glue – a glue binding it the last really common type. Strictly speaking this isn’t used in the creation of sketchbooks, but in sketch pads. With sheets glued together along one edge, the main benefit of these pads is the ease with which you can remove a sheet. This allows you to easily remove your finished work for display.
Covers generally fall into two categories. Soft and hard cover. A hardcover affords your art more protection and is generally more durable over time. Softcovers save on weight and on cost.
This is a bit of an odd one but definitely something worth thinking about before making a purchase. How “fancy” a sketchbook do you want? A well bound, expensive looking sketchbook comes with some great benefits but also brings some drawbacks that aren’t immediately obvious.
The pros you will know. A fancy sketchbook feels great to own. It is a piece of art in its own right. Great binding (leather hardbound, yeah!), great paper, lead to great work. RIght?
Not necessarily, sometimes using a fancy sketchbook can feel like “ruining” it, and that’s the key con. At the end of the day, a sketchbook is meant to be used. A tool to help you grow as an artist, store your work, or just have fun. If you find yourself intimidated by a pristine new sketchbook, this will lead you to create less and that’s no good.
If that last description sounds like you, then maybe avoid a sketchbook that is too “fancy”. We’re here to make things and have fun after all.
That’s it for our look at the best sketchbooks for markers. Markers are a really fun medium of art and illustration. Any of the sketchbooks mentioned above will act as a great sketchbook, art journal or scratch pad. We hope you found something you like the look of, to accompany on your journey as an artist.