It’s a new (art) school year. Here are the best sketchbooks for 2022

A high-quality sketchbook is essential for students, whether experimenting with new techniques or materials, quick studies or free-wheeling ideas. Compared to drawing pads, which are intended for final works of art, sketching pads are designed with practical work in mind. This means the paper tends to be thinner and won’t be archived, but the products are also more economical. Yet sketchbooks contain paper in a variety of weights and surface textures to meet different needs. If you anticipate needing, or your child needs, to work with dry media such as pencil or pastel, lighter weights will do and you will find that you have more paper options. for pen, marker, or watercolor work, a pad specifically designed for multimedia use may be preferable. Sketchbooks also come in many sizes, but all of our picks below are about 9 by 12 inches, big enough to hold lots of ideas, but small enough to slip into a backpack.

How we select each product:

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Our mission is to recommend the most appropriate artist tool or supply for your needs. Whether you’re looking for high-end gear or beginner basics, we’ll make sure you get value for money by doing the research for you. We scour the internet for information on how to use art supplies and read customer reviews by real users; we seek expert advice; and of course, we rely on our own accumulated expertise as artists, teachers and artisans.

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1. Canson Mix Media Buffer

Canson’s sketchbook can handle a variety of dry media, is economical, and comes with 100 crisp white pages to last at least a month or two, or even the whole semester. It’s a safe bet for most students, as it features 65-pound acid-free paper, which falls in the mid-weights, leaning a little on the heavier side. You can use it with pencils, charcoal and pastels, and even ink pens, although wet media will cause the paper to curl. If you use markers, remember to put a spare sheet between the pages to avoid smudging. The surface is also slightly toothed, which is ideal for sketching. The sheets feature convenient perforations and are bound by a large double wire that allows you to flip quickly without the pages getting stuck.



Buy: Canson Mix Media tablet

2. Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad

The Strathmore name and the thistle logo have been synonymous with high quality artist papers for over 120 years. Although not suitable for even small doses of wet media, the 60-pound fine-tooth paper in this 100-page sketchbook is perfect for sketching with graphite pencils, colored pencils, pastels, etc. chalk, charcoal or Conté crayons. The hint of leaf texture will make sketches pop without being too rough to hide detail, and they hold up well to erasing. A sturdy chipboard back makes this cushion easy to use even when there’s no surface to rest it on. Finally, its perforated pages tear easily and are true to size. Comes in a pack of tw.

Buy: Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad

3. Stillman & Birn Premium Sketchbook

Stillman & Birn’s mighty 180-pound paper, double-treated with sizing for added strength, holds up to damp media better than our other picks, though it still warps if soaked. Brilliant white with a bit of a bite, it grips dry media and makes glazes and light washes shine. Although most sketchbooks aren’t suitable for finished art, young artists can use this upgrade choice for all levels of work, and if they do, you can save the results for posterity. – acid-free paper is archival. A minor drawback is that the pages aren’t perforated, but the overall quality of this book more than makes up for having to cut the pages after tearing them out. Each pad comes with 50 sheets of cream white paper.



Buy: Stillman & Birn Premium Sketchbook

4. Arches Sketchbook

If you or your student are serious about their art, consider the best. Arches is the gold standard for watercolor paper, but the brand also makes these exquisite sheets for sketching. The 70-pound papers in this pad are 75% cotton, which makes them thicker and stiffer than those made from wood pulp, though we still don’t use them with watercolor washes. heavy. The ink, pen and light brush look beautiful on their surface, which looks natural with a subtle grain that helps anchor pigments and capture detail. The medium tooth also makes this paper ideal for pastels and charcoal. One drawback is that you only have 20 sheets, measuring around 10.2 by 14.2 inches, to work with. They are glued in blocks – a little more difficult to remove than perforated sheets, but they provide a much cleaner look.



Buy: Arches Sketch Pad

5. Bienfang Notesketch Paper Pad

Bienfang offers a unique option ideal for students who need to annotate their art, whether taking notes in a classroom or jotting down personal reminders. The spiral-bound book has 64 pages that are each divided into a blank section and a ruled section, so the pictures can still be outlined underneath. The 19-pound pages are the thinnest of our picks here, and they’re also quite smooth, so they’re definitely better for pencils and pens. Each measures 8 1/2 by 11 inches and is made from recycled fibers.



Buy: Bienfang Notesketch Paper Pad

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Kayleen C. Rice