A sketch pad is a great art tool that helps artists practice their skills and experiment with drawing techniques and media variations. It also serves as an outlet to quickly study the masterpiece you are planning to work on. It is especially useful for beginning artists who aren't ready to splurge on more expensive art materials.
Sketch pads are also available in various sizes, orientations, covers, and designs that you can choose from depending on your needs or preference. If you are not yet sure about what to get, check out our list of the best products you can score online, as well as our buying guide further below.
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For budding art enthusiasts, a sketch pad may sometimes be used interchangeably with drawing pads. Although they may look similar, their main difference lies in the type of paper and purpose of usage.
A sketch pad uses a type of paper meant for practicing, experimenting, and studying different drawing techniques. The pages are significantly lighter in weight, usually around 74 to 89 grams per square meter (gsm). Additionally, a sketch pad has a lighter tooth surface, which refers to the surface feel of a paper. Generally, the lesser tooth the paper has, the smoother it feels.
A drawing pad is intended for finished artwork. It is composed of toothier paper that gives a rougher surface feel. The roughness allows for more enhanced flexibility of tones; this attribute is also what makes drawing pads significantly more expensive than sketch pads.
When it comes to weight, a drawing paper is heavier, with around 104 to 163 gsm. Because of this, drawing paper can take more layering and is thus suitable for a broader range of media from charcoal, graphite, and conte to color pencil and pastel.
Apart from the fact that sketch pads may sometimes be confused with drawing pads, the plethora of options in the market also contributes to the struggle of finding which sketch pad is best suitable for you. To help you with that, we offer you a list of considerations you should look into before scoring one. Check the list below for more information.
One of the things you must consider when buying a sketch pad is the size. Be sure to get one that you are comfortable working on. Most experienced artists already know what size they need based on the kind of artwork they are trying to execute. However, for beginners, the A5, which is 5.8 x 8.3 inches in size, is generally a good size to start with.
If you frequently sketch on the go, it is also a good idea to choose a compact size that can easily fit in most bags. On the other hand, if you want to practice more detailed drawings, go for larger sketch pad sizes like A3, which is approximately 11.7 x 16.5 inches, and A4, which is about 8.3 x 11.7 inches.
The orientation of a sketch pad might not seem essential, but the mere position of your pad may affect the way you sketch and draw. In portrait orientation, the pad lies vertically when it’s open and is ideal for drawing close-up human images. On the other hand, a landscape orientation, which lies horizontally when open, is perfect for sketching architecture and wide sceneries.
Of course, you can always just turn around the pad depending on the orientation you need. A good artist will be able to work with either landscape or portrait orientation. At the end of the day, orientation is just a matter of preference and skill level.
When it comes to sketching pads, there are two common types of binding: spiral and perfect bind. Understanding both types will give you an idea of which one is most suitable for your needs.
Wire-bound, also known as spiral-bound, comes with a wire loop that holds the sketch paper together. It allows for an open and flat workspace, making it easy to carry and significantly more convenient to work on. However, wire binding is also less sturdy than perfect binding since you can easily tear off the pages.
This type uses glue or an adhesive to bind the papers at the spine. It requires several folded pages to create a whole sketch pad in a book format. This binding method offers a more aesthetic and professional look. Perfect binding allows you to draw across the gutter or the joint where the folded pages meet, which is great when you're drawing wide landscapes and large images.
Paper is probably the most crucial thing to consider when scoring a sketch pad. But since its primary purpose is for practicing and experimenting, a sketch pad doesn’t have to be made of premium-quality and heavyweight paper. However, it does need to have a slight texture to allow the artist to experiment with various drawing techniques and dry media, such as graphite, charcoal, and conte.
On the other hand, if you want to incorporate slightly wet media into your sketches, opt for one with mixed media paper instead. This type can accommodate inks, colored pens, and even watercolor without bleeding through and compromising your artwork on the other side of the page.
Because they are used primarily for trying out ideas, sketch pads usually contain a higher sheet count compared to drawing pads. Sheet count refers to the number of pages on a pad. You can find sketch pads that contain approximately 50 to 80 sheets, but since you can use both fronts and the back of a single sheet, they can give you around 100 to 160 working spaces.
However, if you are an artist who practices and experiments a lot, it is best to find a sketchbook with a higher sheet count to accommodate your needs. You can also consider the sheet count depending on how thick or thin you want the pad to be. For instance, if you intend to take the sketch pad on your travels, it is best to go for one with fewer pages so that it will be easier to carry.
The sketch pad cover contributes to its durability and function, so it is also essential to consider it when purchasing a pad. There are two types of cover that you can choose from: paperback and hardback.
Paperback covers are usually made of thick paper, the quality of which is close to that of cardboard. Although it is noticeably thicker compared to a regular sheet of paper, this type is still pliable and may easily get deformed. However, it does have the advantage of being lighter than a hardback cover and is thus more affordable and easier to carry around.
On the other hand, a hardback cover is often made of leather, cloth, and heavy paperboard. It has a robust structure that offers superior page protection. Additionally, an unstable surface is not a problem if you have a hardback sketch pad because it can serve as a sturdy foundation for your drawing activity.
This type is also considerably more durable and can withstand the harshness of everyday use. However, it may feel bulky at times due to its thick finish. And with its excellent protection, function, and durability, it is more expensive than paperback pads. But if you have the means to splurge, a hardcover sketch pad is definitely worth the investment.
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200 Series Newsprint Pad
Perfect for Practicing Shading and Value Drawing
Balloon Sketch Pad
Opens Flat for Fuss-Free Drawing
400 Series Toned Tan
An Eco-Friendly Choice
Acid-Free Paper to Preserve Your Masterpieces
Black Paper Sketch Book
Create Captivating Artworks With Black Paper
A Tried and Tested Sketch Pad From a Go-To Brand
Sketch Pad Spiral
Works Well With Many Types of Media
College Sketch Pad
An Inexpensive Watercolor Paper Alternative
Budget-Friendly yet High-Quality Sketch Pad
Textured Surface Sketch Pad
Enhance Tone Variations With This Textured Surface Pad
This sketch pad from a globally-known manufacturer of specialty paper will definitely give your money's worth. The product offers a workspace of 18 x 24 inches that you can use for practicing wide landscapes. With this size, it is also easier to execute fine details.
The paper used in this pad is newsprint, a type of paper typically used for printing newspapers. This delivers a naturally rough surface that can enhance color variations of different dry media. It also has a neutral grayish tone that adds a more natural finish to your drawing and helps you practice a wider range of values.
This sketch pad comes in A5 size that can fit easily in most bags, allowing artists to carry it around conveniently. Besides that, it is packed with quality paper, suitable for charcoal, pastel, and pencil — a really great canvas for drawing enthusiasts who are just starting their art journey.
Its wire-free binding style that can open flat creates a broader workspace for larger artworks. The orientation is perfect for drawing portrait sketches like close-human images and full-body figures for fashion drawings. Besides that, the acid-free paper will surely preserve your masterpieces even after a long time.
If you have the budget to splurge, this one is a good buy. This sketch pad from Strathmore is crafted from 100% recycled material and 30% post-consumer fiber that delivers a sleek gray paper tone. The tone astoundingly enhances color variations of different light and dark media, such as graphite, chalk, charcoal, markers, grease, wax, colored pencils, and even gel pens.
On top of that, it offers 50 sheets that allow artists to have a significantly vast amount of workspace to practice, experiment, and execute sketching techniques and drawing plans. And if you want to preserve your sketches, this one is good for it, too, since it is filled with perforated acid-free paper that can keep your strokes vivid over time.
Crafted using acid-free paper, this sketch pad will allow artists to go back down memory lane as it preserves drawings and sketches. Because of its portrait orientation, it is ideal for sketching human images. The versatility of its orientation also enables users to create sceneries in a landscape position in just one turn.
Besides that, the wired binding style makes the sketch pad easy to work with. You can simply turn the sheets around and enjoy a flat working surface. This budget-friendly sketch pad offers 35 sheets of paper that should be good enough for newbies.
Embrace uniqueness with this sketch pad filled with black paper. Unlike the usual sketch pads with a lighter paper tone, this one comes in black sheets with a matte finish, which is perfect for sparking imagination and creativity. Bust out your metallic gel pen collection and go wild on this sleek pad!
Metallic pen sketches will stand out on a dark background like this and result in a captivating and sparkling image. Another plus point that this pad has is the blank cover that you can draw on and decorate as you wish. From the cover to the last page, this pad definitely invites you to unleash the artist within you!
For any kind of paper needs, this trusted brand has got you covered. Corona is widely known in the country for producing different types of paper for almost every conceivable purpose, from watercolor and sketching to graphing and typewriting. Their sketch pad is a go-to for many student artists.
This pad is filled with acid-free paper that can accommodate various dry media like graphite, charcoal, and pencil brushes. It also comes in 24- and 50-sheet variations that you can choose from depending on your needs. The perfect binding style also allows for a flat and smooth drawing experience.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly sketch pad that will allow you to hone your drawing skills to their maximum potential, then try this beginner-friendly sketchpad from Veco. Despite its affordability, you can be assured of quality since it is manufactured by Veco, another popular brand in the country that specializes in paper production.
With a thickness of 90gsm, this pad is suitable for various dry media like pencil, charcoal, pastel, and graphite. And surprisingly, according to reviewers, it can also take a bit of water, so this pad works well even with watercolor pencils! If you want to practice watercolors with this pad, just make sure to rest between layers to let them dry properly.
Looking for an affordable sketch pad that can accommodate water-based media like inks and watercolors? Then try this sketch pad from Sterling. The pad is filled with Oslo paper, a type of paper popular in the country that is used for various art projects.
Oslo paper is noticeably thinner than regular watercolor paper, but it is significantly thicker and rougher than regular typewriting paper, which makes it a good alternative to watercolor paper at a much affordable price. However, you just have to be a little careful with the amount of water to keep the paper working properly.
Budding artists often struggle with finding art materials that are of good quality but still won't break the bank. Problem solved as this budget-friendly sketch pad from a classic brand, Canson, has got your back! For less than a hundred pesos, you get a sketch pad made of 100% acid-free, superior-quality, and fine-grained white paper.
This product offers 24 sheets of 90 gsm paper suitable for dry media like graphite, charcoal, and colored pencils. It also has a landscape orientation with a perfect binding style that lets you draw across the gutter for wider illustrations. All of these qualities make Canson a staple in many artists' kits, whether beginners or pros.
If you're a beginner interested in dry media like graphite, charcoal, and pastel, this one from Berkeley is worth a try. The textured surface of this paper is perfect for practicing shading and creating tones and contrasts. It can accommodate multiple layers of media, resulting in an image with more depth and complexity.
Although it has a paperback front cover, the back part is made of a heavyweight board, which offers a strong foundation for your drawing activities. This makes it a good and stable choice for on-the-go sketching. You can simply plop it down on your lap and draw away!
Now that the country is back at it again with its heightened community quarantine rules, we're pretty sure you are looking for activities that can relieve the boredom of staying home. Put your worries aside, and check out our articles on other recreational activities you can try at home!
Sketch pads offer an inexpensive way to practice your drawing skills and unleash your creativity. With the right kind of sketch pad, you can pursue all the interesting ideas you have and share your vision with others. We hope that this article has been helpful in narrowing down your options. Here's to a more artistic, creative journey!
Author: E. Hubilla
Editor: R. Umlas
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