Sketchbooks are a must-have creative tool for artists to create on the go. Not only are they great for jotting down ideas and capturing scenery en plein air, but they also have a precious quality that makes you want to keep them forever. And although many people use art journals for dry media like pencils and pens, there are also great watercolor sketchbooks for painters that want to take their studio with them.
However, not just any sketchbook will do for watercolor adventures. In addition to having a durable cover for bumpy backpack rides, a good watercolor sketchbook should include thicker paper (average of 150 gsm) that can hold up to washes of color. Sounds like a lot to ask for? Fortunately, nowadays there's no shortage of high-quality watercolor sketchbooks—it's just a matter of narrowing down the competition. So, whether you prefer hardcover, softcover, or wire-bound, we've put together a list of the 10 best watercolor sketchbooks. Scroll down to find your new favorite painting companion.
Start painting with one of these watercolor sketchbooks!
Strathmore Hardbound 400 Series Watercolor Art Journal
The Strathmore Watercolor Art Journal is a dependable sketchbook with multiple sheets of 300 gsm acid-free paper that can withstand washes, as well as lifting and scraping. Plus, at 5.5 x 8.5 inches, this soft cover booklet will perfectly fit inside any bag or purse.
Stillman & Birn Nova Mixed Media Sketchbooks
For painters who prefer to work on toned paper, the Stillman & Birn Sketchbook offers three options in one wire-bound format. It features 17 pages (140 gsm) in each color: beige, black, and gray with a medium grainy texture.
Hahnemühle The ZigZag Book
Despite its small 5.5 x 5.5 inch size, the Hahnemühle The ZigZag Book has a lot to offer. Under the hardcover are 18 pages of thick 300gsm paper in a whimsical accordion-folded format, allowing the artist to spread their illustrations across multiple sheets.
Moleskine Watercolor Album
Moleskine sketchbooks are well-known favorites of artists and designers, and their Watercolor Album is no exception. In addition to a reliable hardcover, this sketchbook features 60 pages of heavyweight, 200 gsm, cold press paper.
Holbein Multimedia Book
If the aesthetic is as important as the function, then the Holbein Multimedia Book is a great choice. Its elegant hardcover features a ribbon closure on the side to ensure that your artwork stays safe during travel. And its pH neutral, 120 gsm paper will be the perfect canvas for watercolor illustrations.
Paul Rubens Art Supplies Watercolor Journal
Sleek and portable are just a few of the words to describe the Paul Rubens Watercolor Journal. Designed for artists of all ages, it has 100% cotton rag watercolor paper that is sturdy enough for different watercolor techniques, as well as other mediums like gouache and acrylic.
Leuchtturm is another well-designed sketchbook that's beloved by designers. It features a vibrant emerald hardcover and 96 pages of 150 gsm paper. Additionally, the art journal is bound in such a way that the pages can open flat for painting.
Canson Artist Series Watercolor Books
For the prolific artist who doesn't want to break the bank with each journal purchase, the Canson Watercolor Sketchbook is a great deal. It includes 20 sheets of thick 300 gsm paper that is ideal for washes and different painting techniques. Plus, all of the pages are micro-perforated so you can remove them with ease.
Bee Paper Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketchbook
This mixed media sketchbook by Bee Paper can be used with both dry and wet media. It features a unique waterproof leatherette cover and 60 sheets of archival-quality 150 gsm textured paper.
Arteza Watercolor Sketchbook
This linen-bound watercolor sketchbook by Arteza is a stylish addition to every artist's collection. It includes 128 pages of heavyweight, cold-pressed 230 gsm paper with a light texture.
Want to pair your sketchbook with a super portable paint set? Check out this one by Viviva! It's in the form of a booklet.