I always find using a sketchbook intimidating. This probably goes back to when I was at junior school and no matter how much I wanted to keep my new notebook neat I always messed it up! The brand new sketchbook is so pristine and then you do something awful on the first sketch tra-laaa!
So what I like doing is making a number of sections which I can fill, censor, sell off en route and finally bind them into a book. Most sketchbooks seems to be about A5 landscape or portrait. I like square formats which I can use either way, or fill. I make the pages 18cm square.
- Paper: I like three kinds of paper and make sections of each of these types of papers:
Snowdon cartridge 130gsm: This is the cheapest thin paper. It has a nice ‘tooth’ and is great for scribbling or ideas or pen drawings, but not so nice for watercolours. A section will have 5-6 folios: 20 – 24 pages. (woodfree and acidfree) I would use this on the train or t draw Misty the cat who keeps moving away. I get six pages per sheet, but two have the grain direction going the wrong way. Because of the Coptic style of binding you can sort of get away with this.
- Winsor and Newton cartridge medium surface 220gsm A2 pad: This is thicker than the Snowdon and can take a bit of water. Its not as expensive as water colour so its a good inexpensive nice feeling all-rounder. 3 folios per section: 12 pages. this is nice for a drawing which I am not sure will be good or where there isn’t quite enough time, but I do want to use a little watercolour. I’m fairly certain the grain runs lengthways, but you’d need to check as I don’t have my big A2 pad yet. So I’d get 3 folios per sheet with the grain going the right way.
- Fabriano Artistico Not 200gsm: Some very yummy but not over-textured watercolour paper. 3 folios per section: 12 pages. This paper makes me feel like a million dollars! Yippee this is “shortgrain” so I can get 6 folios per sheet with the grain going the right way.
The idea is to make up sections and pierce holes as for Coptic binding, but just use 3 of the holes to do pamphlet binding in the meantime. Then when I have filled a whole lot of sections, I’ll take them apart and rebind the ones I want (and discard the ones where I can’t bear to look at the mess I made.) I did all the holes at the beginning so that they all matched nicely across the spine. I’m even keeping a cat sketch section next to the bed as Misty does most of her posturing when I’m in bed.
Below will show how I cut the paper:
One of these days when I have done about 60 sketches, I hope I’ll explain Coptic binding or strap binding like the book above. 🙂