• 10 Best Sketchbooks for Drawing in 2022 (Artist-Reviewed) 1
  • 10 Best Sketchbooks for Drawing in 2022 (Artist-Reviewed) 2
  • 10 Best Sketchbooks for Drawing in 2022 (Artist-Reviewed) 3
  • 10 Best Sketchbooks for Drawing in 2022 (Artist-Reviewed) 4
  • 10 Best Sketchbooks for Drawing in 2022 (Artist-Reviewed) 5

10 Best Sketchbooks for Drawing in 2022 (Artist-Reviewed)

Whether you're a professional artist, art student, or even just a doodler, a sketchbook is a great thing to have by your side. Not only are drawing sketchbooks an integral tool for artists, but they're also great for those who want to draw while journaling or even explore drawing as a new hobby to do in their free time. They vary in size, material, and construction, so you're bound to find one that appeals to your needs.


In this article, we've compiled a list of our 10 best sketchbooks for drawing taking into account a variety of interests. Our favorite was the Canson XL Series Mix Media Paper Pad for its versatile fine-tooth texture, sturdy hardcover binding, and perforated sheets for hassle-free removal. If you want tips on how to find the right sketchbook for you, feel free to scroll down to our trusty Buying Guide reviewed by an artist.

Featured in this article

Susan Lucier-Ogawa
mybest US Editors
  • Last updated: 08-28-2022
Table of Contents

How to Choose a Sketchbook for Drawing - Buying Guide

There is a large variety of sketchbooks to choose from. You may want to consider the paper, sizing, and binding of your sketchbook.

Choose the Right Paper for Your Art

A drawing sketchbook's paper type varies depending on the medium it's used for. The texture, weight, and color of your paper are things you'll want to consider when buying the right sketchbook for you. 

Match the Weight and Texture to Your Medium

Match the Weight and Texture to Your Medium

Sketchbooks are offered in papers with different weights, or sheet thicknesses, and tooth, which refers to the paper's surface texture. Papers with more tooth will have more grooves, making them rougher in texture. You can check the description or cover of the sketchbook to find the recommended mediums for that paper.


Of course, those are only recommendations, but they will help you to see what results you'll get and decide what weight and tooth works for your preferred media. Checking the comments to find what mediums work best on each paper can also be helpful, especially when pictures are included. 


In general, for fine details and for media like pen and ink, marker, or mechanical pencil, artists gravitate toward smoother paper with less tooth. For charcoal, pencil shading, pastels, and other soft media, many artists prefer more tooth.

Match the Weight and Texture to Your Medium

On top of drawing, if you'd also like to use your sketchbook to experiment with wet media like watercolors, be sure to choose a heavier paper to avoid warping. It's recommended to choose 140-pound paper or heavier for large washes of watercolor or ink.


If you know you want to work with lots of different media, you may want to try mixed media paper. If you work mainly with wet media on your mixed media paper, plan on using 140-pound paper or greater; otherwise, a lower paper weight around 80 pounds should work.


For graphite, charcoal, pastel, and other dry media, a paper weight of around 68 pounds or higher is a safe option.

Colored Paper for Value Drawings

Colored Paper for Value Drawings

White paper will generally show colors most vibrantly. On the other hand, using lighter colors on black paper works well for isolating your subject, but not all mediums will show up on darker surfaces. For example, graphite and translucent media will be much harder to see, and your colors won't be as vibrant as they would be on white paper.


You can also choose toned tan or gray paper. This is great for practicing value drawings, where bright highlights and dark shadows can really pop against the mid-tone paper. If you're used to working only on white paper, choosing a colored option can be a nice change of pace and help spark creativity.

Susan Lucier-Ogawa
Oil Painter and Glassblower
Susan Lucier-Ogawa

Some pads are available in grayscale tones. Even if you never use these for final drawings, I recommend trying some value drawings with a toned ground or paper. It can really help you see if you're using a full range of values from light to dark in your work.


Not going dark enough where needed is probably the most common mistake I see in beginner drawings. Taking away the extreme contrast of the white paper may help you see that.

Pick a Size Based on Drawing Style and Portability

Pick a Size Based on Drawing Style and Portability

Small sketchbooks can be great for travel. Whether you're going on a trip or just taking a walk in the park, it's nice to have a sketchbook with you to capture a moment through drawing. Most travel sketchbooks are made with portability in mind, often constructed so that they can easily fit in your pocket, purse, or bag.


Large sketchbooks offer lots of working space. These sketchbooks are ideal for those who like to plan and work out ideas on paper and who prefer larger-scale drawings. Large sketchbooks are often larger than nine by 12 inches.


You'll find that your drawing style changes when you work in a large format, since the motion will come from your shoulder and not your wrist. A big sheet of blank paper can seem intimidating, but working large is also quite freeing.

Susan Lucier-Ogawa
Oil Painter and Glassblower
Susan Lucier-Ogawa

A big sheet of paper doesn't mean you need more lines to fill it. Usually, you'll just scale up your drawing. Having a sheet that's 18 by 24 inches forces you to draw with your whole arm, or even your whole body if you stand up!


This can be a complete game-changer for you, and I strongly recommend trying it. Some artists like to warm up with a few sketches on large newsprint before they start their serious work. Drawing is physical, and this works just like warming up before playing sports.

Decide Between Spiral, Sewn, or Glue Binding

Decide Between Spiral, Sewn, or Glue Binding

There are a few different options when it comes to sketchbook bindings. Spiral or wire-bound sketchbooks are held together with wire loops. These sketchbooks can easily be opened and folded over to an individual page, instead of having to keep a whole spread open. This also allows them to be laid flat.


This is great for when you have to hold your sketchbook on your lap or in your hand while drawing. Paper in wire-bound sketchbooks will often be perforated for easy removal, as well. However, note that with this type of binding, it's difficult to draw across multiple sheets as the wire gets in the way.

Decide Between Spiral, Sewn, or Glue Binding

Sewn, perfect-bound, or book-bound sketchbooks have paper held together using stitching and sometimes glue. These sketchbooks look similar to reading books. Some will lie flat when open, while others won't, so be sure to keep an eye out for what's most comfortable for you. 


The flatter your paper lies, the easier it will be to draw near the edge or create artwork across two pages. Sketchbooks with sewn pages will usually require a knife to remove a finished drawing unless the pages are perforated.


Glue-bound sketchbooks have a layer of glue along one side of the paper to attach them together. Generally, these sketchbooks are meant to easily remove the pages from each other. They don't tend to hold together for long periods of time, especially if you continually work with and flip through the pages.

Think About the Type of Cover

Think About the Type of Cover

Hard covers provide protection for your artwork. They also provide support when drawing, and this comes in handy when you don't have a desk or table to draw on. Hardcover sketchbooks are usually more durable and can help keep your artwork clean as well.


Softcover sketchbooks have a flexible cover. This can be helpful if you have to bend it slightly to fit in a bag or pocket, but can cause damage to the artwork if you are not careful.


Spiral-bound sketchbooks with soft covers can easily lose their covers, especially with a lot of use or travel. Overall, a hardcover sketchbook will be a safer option for your artwork if you plan to keep it together in a collection.

10 Best Sketchbooks for Drawing

Here are our 10 best choices for sketchbooks for drawing. We've included information about the size and sheets of paper for each sketchbook, as well as the type of binding, paper weight, and sketchbook orientation.


*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Susan Lucier-Ogawa unless explicitly stated so.

Image
Canson XL Series Mix Media Paper Pad 1

Canson

Canson XL Series Drawing Pad 1

Canson

Strathmore 400 Series Toned Tan Sketch Pad 1

Strathmore

Pentalic Pocket Sketchbook 1

Pentalic

Strathmore 400 Series Pastel Pad 1

Strathmore

illo Square Sketchbook 1

illo

Arteza Cold-Press Watercolor Book 1

Arteza

Strathmore 300 Series Charcoal Pad 1

Strathmore

Peter Pauper Press Premium Sketchbook 1

Peter Pauper Press

Arteza Marker Paper Pad 2 Pack 1

Arteza

Name

XL Series Mix Media Paper Pad

XL Series Drawing Pad

400 Series Toned Tan Sketch Pad

Pocket Sketchbook

400 Series Pastel Pad

Square Sketchbook

Cold-Press Watercolor Book

300 Series Charcoal Pad

Premium Sketchbook

Marker Paper Pad 2 Pack

Features

Best Sketchbook for a Wide Variety of Mediums

Best Large Drawing Paper Pad for Dry Media

Best Toned Sketchpad for Value Drawings

Best Pocket-Size Travel Sketchbook

Best Pastel Pad With a Variety of Colored Paper

Best Square Sketchbook for Posting Artwork to Social Media

Best Travel-Size Sketchbook for Markers, Ink or Watercolor

Best Sketchbook for Charcoal and Pastel

Best Letter-Size Book-Bound Sketchbook

Best Sketchbooks for Markers

Price$8.22$16.39$11.49$7.49$8.65$16.95$10.99$11.00$11.69$21.99
Paper weight98 lbs.70 lbs.80 lbs.74 lbs.80 lbs.122 lbs.110 lbs.64 lbs.80 lbs.73 lbs.
TextureSmoothSmoothMediumSmoothTextured SmoothCold-pressed (medium texture)Laid finish (slight gridded texture)SmoothSmooth coated
ColorWhiteWhiteTanWhiteSix assorted tintsWhiteWhiteWhiteWhiteWhite
Size5.5 x 8.5 in.18 x 24 in.9 x 12 in.3 x 4 in.9 x 12 in.8 x 8 in.3.5 x 5.5 in.9 x 12 in.8.5 x 11 in.9 x 12 in.
Sheets60305080245680329650 each
BindingWireWireWireSewnGlueSewnSewnWireSewnGlue
CoverHard cardboardHard cardboard backHard cardboard backSoft, water-resistant Hard cardboard backHardcover front and backLinen hardcover front and backHard cardboard backHardcover front and backCardboard back
Link
Paper weight98 lbs.
TextureSmooth
ColorWhite
Size5.5 x 8.5 in.
Sheets60
BindingWire
CoverHard cardboard
Paper weight70 lbs.
TextureSmooth
ColorWhite
Size18 x 24 in.
Sheets30
BindingWire
CoverHard cardboard back
Paper weight80 lbs.
TextureMedium
ColorTan
Size9 x 12 in.
Sheets50
BindingWire
CoverHard cardboard back
Paper weight74 lbs.
TextureSmooth
ColorWhite
Size3 x 4 in.
Sheets80
BindingSewn
CoverSoft, water-resistant
Paper weight80 lbs.
TextureTextured
ColorSix assorted tints
Size9 x 12 in.
Sheets24
BindingGlue
CoverHard cardboard back
Paper weight122 lbs.
TextureSmooth
ColorWhite
Size8 x 8 in.
Sheets56
BindingSewn
CoverHardcover front and back
Paper weight110 lbs.
TextureCold-pressed (medium texture)
ColorWhite
Size3.5 x 5.5 in.
Sheets80
BindingSewn
CoverLinen hardcover front and back
Paper weight64 lbs.
TextureLaid finish (slight gridded texture)
ColorWhite
Size9 x 12 in.
Sheets32
BindingWire
CoverHard cardboard back

Peter Pauper PressPremium Sketchbook

$11.69

Paper weight80 lbs.
TextureSmooth
ColorWhite
Size8.5 x 11 in.
Sheets96
BindingSewn
CoverHardcover front and back
Paper weight73 lbs.
TextureSmooth coated
ColorWhite
Size9 x 12 in.
Sheets50 each
BindingGlue
CoverCardboard back

Susan's Recommended Sketchbook for Drawing

Paper weight12 x 18 in.
Texture15
ColorGlue
Size80 lbs.
SheetsLandscape, portrait
BindingNot provided, but reviewers note glue
CoverHard, clipboard
OrientationPortrait
Susan Lucier-Ogawa
Oil Painter and Glassblower
Susan Lucier-Ogawa

I love Strathmore drawing pads and use their recycled sketchbooks as my standby. These are a great choice because they have five different tones of paper from white to black, which allows you to practice value drawings. 


Usually, artists will create their own toned ground by covering the paper with charcoal or pastel before drawing, but this saves you that step! The only drawback is you won't be able to employ erasure techniques and get back to white paper, but you can use white drawing materials instead.

Frequently Asked Questions

In addition to reviewing our buying guide, Susan has also answered some commonly asked questions about drawing.

What are some easy drawing ideas?

"When it comes to subject matter, nothing is really easier than anything else," Susan explains. "You'll need to translate what you see into line, form and value (light to dark) no matter the subject.


However, there are some techniques that can help you tackle a complex composition. One of the most useful and well-known is the grid technique. By breaking your composition into smaller parts, it can be easier to keep track of things and visualize what you may be missing.


You can find YouTube tutorials on how to use this technique, but most will cover using it to copy drawings. For drawing from life, I recommend checking out Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. It's a great way to learn techniques that you'll actually continue to use, and gain confidence in your drawing skills."

What are some good drawing exercises for beginners?

Susan says, "One thing I definitely recommend is warming up before you start to draw, preferably on a really big (18 by 24) sheet of paper. Do some fast sketches using your whole arm, spending no more than a few minutes on each. Cheap paper like newsprint, and soft, tactile charcoal are perfect for this.


For general practice exercises and to keep your drawing muscles in shape, copying other art or a photograph is a good choice. Artists used to do studies of the Old Masters, but anything you like is fine! You can try to replicate the work exactly, or put your own spin on it.


Another option is drawing the same subject many times. Approach it from different angles, or use different media or styles. I find the best practice is drawing from life, even if your style is manga or semi-abstract. There's no substitute for doing studies of the human figure, landscapes and objects as you see them in the real world."

Need Some Drawing Supplies?

Need some more art supplies for your next project? Check out these different drawing media to help spark your creativity.

Amazon's Best Selling Sketchbooks and Drawing Paper

If you're still unsure where to begin, give Amazon's bestsellers a browse. It features some of the choices here in this list, as well as other great options. 

In Collaboration With Artist Susan Lucier-Ogawa

Susan Lucier-Ogawa
Oil Painter and Glassblower
Susan Lucier-Ogawa

This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary, as well as extra tips and advice. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.

Author: Alexa Crookston

Updated by: Mai T., 5/9/2022


  • Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more mybest recommendations! For questions or comments, leave us feedback via a Google Form on our Contact Us page.

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