Here’s our review of the best sketchbook for colored pencils.
It can be tough to look for a colored pencils sketchbook. Some are cheap but they’re too thin for techniques like burnishing or erasing.
There are also a lot of things to consider like texture and tone.
As an artist, I’ve gone through quite a few sketchbooks myself. Using my experience, I’ve done some research and can help you narrow your search.
And I’ve found that the Strathmore Colored Pencil Spiral Paper Pad is the best sketchbook for colored pencils in most cases.
At the same time, you might also want to consider other more affordable options. Or, you might want to experiment with wet mediums like watercolor with colored pencils.
Let’s dive into it!
5 Best sketchbook for colored pencils
After my research, I’ve found a few great colored pencils sketchbook you should consider.
The Strathmore Colored Pencil Spiral Paper Pad is a great choice for most uses. This sketchbook is designed specifically for colored pencils. It has a medium-textured surface, but you can still get a smooth look with blending and burnishing.
The paper is acid-free and weighs 163 gsm which is on the heavier side compared to other sketchpads. You can also use this paper pad for finished pieces.
The main downside with this pad is that it comes with only 30 sheets which makes it more expensive on a per-sheet basis. Like most other sketchbooks, it also doesn’t work well with wet mediums like watercolor.
|Designed specifically for colored pencils||Comes with fewer sheets (Slightly more expensive)|
|Great for dry mediums, including graphite and charcoal||Not good with wet mediums|
|Can withstand more erasing and burnishing|
The Strathmore 400 Series Sketch Pad is a great affordable colored pencil sketchbook. It comes with 100 sheets and has a very slight creamy color to it. Like the Strathmore Colored Pencil Spiral Paper Pad, this sketch pad is made from the Strathmore 400 series paper which is higher in quality. They’re meant for artists and are perfect for sketching with graphite or colored pencils.
The main advantage of this sketch pad is that there are a lot of color options to choose from like recycled paper, toned tan, or toned gray. Like other sketchbooks on this list, this sketch pad is acid-free.
The only downside with this sketch pad is that it only weighs 89 gsm which can be a bit thin for some people. You have to be a bit more gentle with this paper. Again, this sketchbook is also not good with wet mediums like most other sketchbooks.
Be sure to select the size, sheet count, and tone that you prefer before purchasing.
|Relatively affordable||Paper is slightly thin|
|Works great with colored pencils and graphite||Not good with wet mediums|
|Have toned and gray options|
The Pentalic Sketch Book is a good option if you want a hard-bound sketchbook (there is also a wire-bound option). The sketchbook can be laid flat which makes it easy to work with. It also has a sturdy cover. The paper weighs 114 gsm which is quite enough for colored pencils.
The advantage of a hard-bound sketchbook is that your paper won’t slip as much which means less smudging. It is also acid-free like other sketchbooks on this list.
The main downside that I found is that this sketchbook is not meant for wet mediums. Some people tried using watercolor with it and have poor results.
|Hardbound version can be laid flat||Not good with wet mediums|
|Less slippage and smudging|
The Arteza Sketch Book is a high-quality sketchbook that has a paper weight of 100 gsm. The paper is acid-free and can withstand rougher techniques and erasing. There’s a slight texture to the paper, and the paper also works well with ink. This pack of 2 is quite affordable and can last you a long time.
The only downside I found with this is that it’s not meant for wet mediums. But, colored pencils and graphite work quite well on it.
|Works great with colored pencils||Not meant for wet mediums|
|Works with ink|
|Can withstand rougher techniques|
If you’re looking for a great mixed-media sketchbook, the Canson XL Series Mix Paper Pad is a good choice. It weighs 160 gsm which is a bit on the lighter end of the mixed-media paper range. But, it works better than most other sketchbooks when using wet mediums. This sketchbook is also great for watercolor pencils since you might be mixing water on the paper. The paper is quite durable so you can burnish and erase without worry.
The main downside with these is that it is slightly more expensive since it comes with only 60 sheets. At the same time, most mixed-media papers tend to be slightly more expensive. Also keep in mind with these is that the paper can warp if you apply too much water.
Be sure to pick the regular version instead of the rough version since the rough version can be too rough for colored pencils.
|Great with both wet and dry mediums||Paper can warp if too wet|
|Great for colored pencils||Slightly more expensive|
|Durable – great for erasing and burnishing|
What to consider when choosing a colored pencils sketchbook
Here are a few things to consider when searching for the best sketchbook for colored pencils.
High-quality paper is usually acid-free since acid can make your paper fragile and yellow. It can also make your colors fade faster than usual. All the sketchbooks in this list are acid-free and suitable for colored pencils.
Some papers have higher quality than others, some are even made from 100% cotton which makes the paper more durable. Some papers also are archival which means that they can preserve the colors of your art for a long time. However, this also means that these papers are more expensive. For a sketchbook, we still want to pick high-quality paper, but we don’t need to get those extra features.
If you’re looking for paper with premium quality for finished pieces, check out our list of the best paper for colored pencils.
Size and dimension
If you’re traveling a lot and plan to sketch on the go, pick a smaller-sized sketchbook that can fit in your bag. While you tend to go through them quicker, it’s not convenient to carry around large sketch pads. Most sketchbooks have different sizing options so be sure to check the size before purchasing.
If you’re drawing in your studio or at home most of the time, opt for a larger sketchbook. This allows you more flexibility and is more economical. I find that a 9”x12” sketchbook is perfect for most artists.
The weight of the paper is important because it affects its durability of the paper. Generally, the heavier the paper, the better and more durable it is. At the same time, heavier paper often costs more. If the paper is too thin, the paper can tear or can leave a dent on the other side when using rough techniques like burnishing. For sketching with colored pencils or graphite, 80 to 120 gsm paper is often adequate.
Smooth or medium-textured paper works quite well with colored pencils. Medium-textured paper is typically better for mixed medium usage where you combine watercolor and colored pencils. It also allows you to lay down more layers of colors. Smooth paper is a bit better for blending.
Paper that is too rough can have a lot of white spots showing through when you lay down your colors. So avoid rough paper unless you’re going for a specific look. Most sketchbooks are either smooth or medium-textured.
There are three main types of binding for sketchbooks: wire-bound, glue-bound, and sewn-bound. Each has its own pros and cons.
Wire-bound sketchbooks are great because you can often lay them flat on the table which makes them easier to draw on. However, the sheets can shuffle around while the sketchbook is closed and your colors might be smudged.
Glue-bound sketchpads are easier to tear off. But, the sheets might tear out when you don’t want them to because the glue might not be strong enough. This is great for finished pieces but not so good for keeping a sketchbook intact (so I didn’t include them in this list of sketchbooks). You can check out our list of the best paper for colored pencils if you’re looking for paper for finished pieces.
Sewn-bound sketchbooks allow you to draw to the middle of the book and across the page. However, they sometimes can’t be laid down flat which makes them a bit harder to draw on.
Some sketchbooks have more of a natural white which makes the colors look softer. Others have a brighter white which can be great if you scan your work digitally.
There are also tanned or gray options which give you a wider range of highlights and shadows. You also save a lot of time with these since you don’t need to color in the mid-tones.
A good colored pencil sketchbook should be durable and have smooth or medium-texture paper. It should also be acid-free and work well with colored pencils.
At the same time, there are a lot of options to choose from depending on what you need.
Every artist is different so be sure to choose the one that suits you the most.
But the Strathmore Colored Pencil Spiral Paper Pad is a great, high-quality choice for most artists.