Drawing Sketch Books: Which ones are the best for pencil art?

Why is there so many different types of drawing sketchbooks on the market? And How does a beginner know which drawing sketchbook to choose?


Various drawing sketchbooks by Canson and Strathmore
The common drawing sketchbooks on the market.


In this article we will go over all the types of drawing paper and sketchbooks and how they are used for different types of art.

Many beginners often ask about drawing materials and which ones are the best to use for any kind of art.

The short answer is It Doesn’t Matter.

Drawing, painting and doing any kind of art is a matter of skill not materials. To be honest you can draw on toilet paper using a simple pencil if you have the patience.

But seriously, the choice of paper depends on what materials are used for drawing.  For example,  water colors, ink and markers requires a thicker paper to prevent the colors, and ink  from bleeding through the paper. Certain forms a charcoal require a heavier textured paper to hold the charcoal particles in place.

Since this is pencil art we won’t cover all the various types of paper used for drawing. As you advance in your artistic journey,  you can investigate the other types of paper that are used in water color, heavy charcoal and pastel drawings. There is even a specific paper used for long term archiving of art.

As you can imagine the price varies depending on the type of paper used.

Drawing Sketchbooks can be broken down by:

  • weight,

  • texture or tooth

  • size

  • and color.

Weight: The specified weight listed on the sketchbook, is what a ream or 500 sheets of paper would weigh when stacked on top of each other. For example in the sketchbook below,  5 sketchbooks of 100 sheets stacked on top of each other with a medium surface would weigh 50lbs.



sketchbook by Biefang 100 sheets @ 50lbs
Sketchbook by Beinfang. Note the weight and the amount of sheets

To give you an idea of the thickness of the page:  a single sheet of paper rated at 50lbs. is slightly thicker than a sheet of photo copier paper. It’s still malleable for writing and drawing but not so malleable that it will wrinkle easily. Therefore it’s easy to draw on and  render realistic values.

Heavier paper rated at over 100lbs. would be like cardboard. This type of paper is suited for watercolors, markers and heavier charcoal.

Here’s a break down on the various types of  Drawing sketchbooks and their weights

  1. Colorline Black Drawing Medium Surface by Canson 40 sheets 92lbs. Approx 13 books would weigh about 92lbs.
  2. Toned Gray by Strathmore Medium surface 50 sheets 80lbs. 10 sketchbooks would weigh 80lbs.
  3. Mixed Media by Canson Heavy surface 60 sheets 98lbs. Approx 8 sketchbooks would weight 98lbs.
  4. 4 sketch books of 24 sheets Vellum Bristol Pad weigh in about 100lbs.

 Texture: Sketch books or drawing paper comes in 3 different surface textures, smooth, medium and rough. The surface texture, is also referred to as the tooth of the paper. Smooth textured paper has no tooth and is used in copier machines. The smooth surface makes it ideal for writing and photocopying.

On the other hand, Heavy Charcoal, markers, or pastels would either bleed through or rub off the paper’s smooth surface.

Paper with a rough and medium texture would be suitable /for pastels, and charcoal. The surface is relatively smooth and doesn’t have a lot of nooks and crannies that are present in thicker paper. The surface of the paper has enough tooth to absorbs graphite and other forms of charcoal without rubbing off.

Size: As you can imagine sketchbooks come in different sizes. Starting with 8.5 x 11 in all the way up to 18 x 24 and beyond called Newsprint. As a beginner the bigger 8.5 x 11 should be fine. But if you get into human and figure drawing bigger format paper 18 x 24 should be used for that life-like quality.

Color: Sketch book comes in various colors. The different colors  helps in rendering the different shades of grays in pencil and charcoal drawings.

What is Acid Free?

Acid Free is how the paper is processed. Acid Free paper will last longer and will not yellow over time. Beginner artists need not worry about this designation most paper is ACID FREE

To Sum up

Drawing sketchbooks rated at 50lbs to 100lbs with a, medium to smooth surface will be more than adequate for pencil art. Heavier weighted paper will archive the drawings for a long time in case you want to frame your masterpiece.

Artists that work with markers, or water colors etc.  need multimedia sketchbooks with a rough texture to prevent the colors and markers from bleeding through the paper.

Bottom line:

Don’t be overwhelmed by all the drawing sketchbooks on the market. As a beginner there are two things to look for in a drawing sketchbook : the weight of the paper, and surface texture. Any sketchbook that fits that criterion will be fine for beginner work.


Hard Work and discipline will produce quality results

There is no substitute for quality drawing. Only daily practice and hard work will improve the skill sets. Keep in mind the renaissance artists  did not have access to all these drawing materials. They had to make their own drawing materials from scratch which proves that you can draw on anything.

Be sure to  let me know in the comments some of your favorite  drawing sketchbooks. The next article will talk about different pencils


Back to product reviews










Product review: Drafting Table Desks: Are They Worth It?

This review will simplify the process and help with that purchasing decision.


Drafting tables are not just for architects and artists. They can be used for school work, DIY projects and home businesses


The combo drafting table desk can be used as a drafting table and a computer desk.

Don’t Buy A Drafting Desk Until You READ This



More and more people are delving into the wonderful world of art.  And more and more people, like you, are wondering about what equipment and supplies to purchase. I’ve included a basic list of supplies needed to get you started on the artistic journey.

But for now,  this article will  focus on drafting desks.

First, should you buy an easel or a desk?

It depends, on your comfort level and the amount of drawing and painting you do. The neat thing about pencil art you don’t need fancy easels or large desks to draw on. Any old table, desk or chair will do. All that’s needed is a flat firm surface that provides good support when drawing.

But if you want to take your art to the next level then you should consider at least a drafting table that has an adjustable desk top.

Some artists like to stand when drawing. Others like to sit. And some like to do both. However, if you are still experimenting with the perfect drawing position then drafting desks are great options for the aspiring artist.

Should I sit or Stand when Drawing?

Most Drafting desks have tilting desk tops which are great options for people that want to vary their drawing positions. Depending on the size of the desk and the angle of the top you can even stand up and draw.

I use a drafting desk with a top that angles from 0 to 60 degrees to complete various projects such as drawing, writing and wrapping presents. The drafting desk is the most versatile solution to my space issues, since I don’t have a big room.

The drafting desks can accommodate the artist, writer, and anyone that works from home. It’s a great option for people that are budget conscious and have limited space.

There are lot of drafting desks to choose from and all do the same thing: provide a working surface for various projects. The only differences are the materials and the size of the desk.

As you can imagine, the larger and better quality materials the higher the price.

We will cover the drafting table by Little Tree


Drafting Table by Little Tree


  1. Little Tree Multi-function Drawing Table with Adjustable Tiltable Stand provides a desk top that be angled from 0 to 60 degrees.
  2. The desk comes equipped with 2-tier shelves that can store art supplies, books and files.
  3. The Little Tree drafting table is made from Engineered Wood and heavy-duty powder-coated finish metal legs.
  4. Instruction and tools are included for easy assembly.
  5. The purchase price on Amazon is approximately $189.99.


  • Length: 55. 1 inches
  • Width: 23.6 inches
  • Height: 29. 7 inches
  • Work Space: desk size 55” L x 24”
  • Weight: approx. 50 lbs.

Super Sturdy And Durable

  • Max wt capacity : 180 lbs.
  • Attractive Wood grained pattern:
  • Furniture Finish: Oak



The drafting desk can convert to standard desk and easel just by lifting the desktop to the preferred angled. The desk is pretty compact and is great for small home offices and studios. It can be used for drawing, writing and other projects. The illustrations for assembly are easy to follow. Every part is numbered or lettered and the desk can be assembled in under an hour.


The shelving space is limited. Which can be a draw back for storing files or large books. The desk surface isn’t waterproof and will bubble up if liquids are spilt on it.

Overall impression of the Little Tree Drawing Table

For the price you can’t go wrong. The Liittle Tree Table is an attractive piece of furniture that can fit any home décor. The table comes in different colors and wood grain patterns. The desk top angles to a maximum of 60 degrees which is more than enough to do art work, writing and other projects.  The surface board surface can be fragile and easily scratches when cutting or slicing. Be sure to use a cutting board or mat when using crafts blades and razors. Be sure to keep liquids off the desk or wipe off immediately if spilled. .

Be on the look out for future articles on Art Supplies and equipment

What about you? Do you sit, stand or a little of both when drawing?

Leave comments about your favorite drawing desk or easel.

How to set up a home art studio for the pencil artist

The Home Art Studio: Keep it Simple. Keep it Functional

Desk and easel in a home art studio

All that’s needed in a simple home art studo is a desk, chair, sketchbook and pencil

There are many ways to set up a home art studio and so many supplies to choose from. Easels, chairs, tables, desks, and lighting are just some essentials. But the choices can be overwhelming and expensive.

Luckily as a beginner you don’t need all the high end studio equipment to produce quality art.

In this article we are going to help you to set up your own home art studio without the stress or the expense.

There are three things to consider for the home studio: space, lighting, and seating

The Space

Many artists struggle to find the space needed to draw. As a pencil artist you don’t much space or any space at all. The space can be a part of a larger room sectioned off with a screen or curtain.

A small closet, or a small cubby hole can be great options as well. If you are one of the fortunate few and have more space,  then a spare bedroom or home office can suffice.

The important thing is making sure that the space is conducive to a creative environment without too many distractions or poor lighting .


To render accurate shades of gray from dark to light, the space has to have adequate lighting to illuminate the work space to differentiate the various shades of gray.

Natural lighting with a northern exposure provides the most consistent lighting throughout the day. The glare from the sunrises and sunsets makes it hard to render accurate values.

What if you don’t have a northern exposure or a windowless room?

Then, incandescent lighting is the only option. Just make sure the light is evenly dispersed either with a shade or ceiling mounted light fixture with cover. Floor lamps positioned on either side of the drawing area should provide optimal lighting.

Try to use warm lighting in the 2700 K range. Do not use white light that is used in clinical environments they produce too much glare. The subtler shades of gray must be seen to produce accurate drawings.


A range from 2700 K to 3500 K will illuminate the workspace with the proper brightness.


Drawing Desks or Easels 

There are many surfaces to draw on, desks, easels or a combination of both. Desks with a built in easel such as the one below can be used for drawing, painting and writing.



Do you need an easel ?

Not necessarily but….

It’s important to have the work at eye-level to provide a distortion free view of the drawing. A drawing/painting easel is the practicle choice to use for holding a piece of art. Eventually you are going to want to get one.

In this illustration, the easel is positioned slightly below eye level and at just short of arm’s length.

An easel can be set at various angles and heights to the size of your project. There are many easels to choose from and some of them are small enough to fit on a table and large enough to stand on the floor.

I encourage you to check out the easels at on your local arts and crafts store. Make sure the easel can be easily adjusted and that it provides good stability for your work. Make sure you have enough room for larger easels. The bases can be quite wide and take more room than you think.

The size and type of easel is dependent on the size of the canvas or paper used. Obviously, large formatted paper or canvas will require a floor standing easel and for smaller pieces a desk easel could do the trick.

Drawing Boards

Pieces of plywood from the lumber yard or home depot could be used in lieu of easels.

In fact that’s what I use.



This 18 x24in board was purchased from Amazon. They are lightweight and provide great stability while propped up against another chair or desk for drawing.

Stand or Sit to Draw?

To sit or not to sit? That is the question

Answer: It depends. Some artists like to sit while they draw using an easel. Others like to sit using a drawing board. Still, others like to stand no matter what. There is no right or wrong way. Just make sure the drawing surface is at eye level and you have enough room to draw and view the model or object.

I like to do both sit and stand so instead of adjusting the height of the easel I just adjust my height from standing to sitting


There are many chairs that can be used Including stools. again Just make sure what you’re working at is at eye level

Lots of artists use stools so that they can easily change positions. Some like using chairs with good back support. It’s up to you and your comfort level on what you want to use.

Make sure to have FUN when drawing!

Don’t get overwhelmed by all the choices in equipment out there on the market. You don’t need all the high end supplies to draw.  Just stick to the basic equipment and you should be fine.


To Recap:

What is included in a home art studio?

Keep the space simple

The basic home art studio can be a kitchen table, home office or a spare bedroom. Even a closet can do the trick. Try the local library, coffee shop or the park. Even the lobbies of public buildings can offer a decent spaces to draw in.

Here’s a basic list to get you started:

  • Desk
  • Chair
  • Easel
  • Any room, corner, cubby hole will do


You can always draw with sketch book in your lap while seated on a park bench.


Remember, only hard work and dedication will produce quality art. Not fancy high end equipment or an ideal home art studio.


Final Thoughts

High end equipment will not improve your skills and may give you the illusion that the right equipment is needed to produce quality work. It is only with hard work and practice that your drawing skills will improve.

Please,  let me know in the comments sections about your home studio setup.




Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Follow by Email