Looking for the Best Watercolor Sketchbook in 2023?

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Last Updated on June 27, 2023 by Dee

10 Best Watercolor Sketchbooks for 2023

Imagine creating your next watercolor masterpiece, laying down each gentle brushstroke with precision, feeling the rush of creative energy coursing through your veins. The canvas? It matters more than you might think. A good watercolor sketchbook can take your art to soaring new heights, making colors pop and enhancing the overall experience. But where do you find this magical sketchbook? Well, fellow artist, we’ve got you covered.

Welcome to our curated list of the ’10 Best Watercolor Sketchbooks for 2023′. We’ve dived headfirst into the vibrant world of watercolor sketchbooks to sift out the best of the best. Whether you’re an established artist or someone who’s just bought their first watercolor set, our guide is designed to help you choose the perfect companion for your creative journey. The year 2023 has brought us a plethora of high-quality sketchbooks with superior paper, excellent binding, and user-friendly formats. Let’s uncover these hidden gems together and paint your 2023 with an array of colors you’ve never seen before!

**This page may contain affiliate links to products I have used or recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.**

Below is a list of the best watercolor sketchbooks for 2023.

10 Best Watercolor Sketchbooks

US Art Supply Watercolor Sketchbook 5.5″ x 8.5″

Size: 5.5” x 8.5”

Paper Weight: 230gsm

Pages: 76 ( 2 pack)

Suitable for: Watercolor painting, gouache painting, mixed media artwork and dry media.

This watercolour sketchbook is really sturdy and durable and the high-quality 230gsm paper, makes this a winning combination. Ideal for professional use and perfect travel size for urban sketching. Bear in mind that this is a smaller sized watercolor sketchbook and so not ideal if you are used to working on a larger scale.

The natural white cold-press textured surface of the watercolor sketchbook pages, makes them the ideal sheets to use for mastering watercolor techniques. They absorb water well, are excellent for blending, and leave clean lines with no bleed-through. It is also good to note that they are acid-free and non-color fading.

Arteza 5.1” x 8.3” Sketch Book

Size: 5.1” x 8.3”

Paper Weight: 175gsm

Pages: 100

Suitable for: very light washes of watercolor, colored pencils, pencil, pen, ink, markers and pastel.

Even though this sketchbook doesn’t exactly fit into the watercolor sketchbook category because its paper gsm is only 175 I have added it in because the Arteza sketchbook is very high quality and well suited for mixed media artwork. It includes a ribbon to marker your page and also an expandable inner pocket to hold your visual references, notes and ephemera. This sketchbook comes in a pack of 3 notebooks and it very easy to travel with. It also has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you aren’t happy with it for any reason you can simply ask for a refund.

Tumuarta Square Watercolor Journal

Arteza 8.25” x 8.25” Watercolor Book

Best Watercolor Sketchbook for Art Journaling

Size: 8.25” x 8.25”

Paper Weight: 230gsm

Pages: 68

Suitable for: Watercolor washes, pen, pencil, pastel, ink.

The Arteza Watercolor Book is an 8.23″ x 8.25″ square sketchbook. I find this to be a good size for both my watercolor painting as well as my mixed media work. Even though it is slightly larger than other sketchbooks I find it to be a wonderfully portable option for a watercolor sketchbook. It has the perfect amount of tooth for watercolor painting and mixed media studies. This sketchbook comes in a set of two and is a dual-sided sketchbook and is perfect for both beginners and more advanced artists to explore their creativity.

Arteza 3.5 x 5.5” Mini watercolor Sketchbook

Best Mini Watercolor Sketchbook

Size: 3.5” x 5.5”

Paper Weight: 175gsm

Pages: 88

Suitable for: Light washes, pencil, pen, markers, charcoal and colored pencils.

Arteza watercolor sketchbooks are known for their high-quality paper and they are built to last. This sketchbook is great for tiny watercolor doodles, quick watercolor paintings, small mixed-media illustrations, and for artists who like to work on a small scale. This is a mini-sized sketchbook and is perfect for all dry media and light watercolor washes. This sketchbook includes an inner pocket to store your art reference images, photographs, ephemera, and small embellishments. It also has an elastic strap to hold the sketchbook closed and a ribbon as a page marker.

Canson Artist Series Watercolor Pad

Best Watercolor Sketchbook for Beginners

Size: 5.5” x 8.5”

Paper Weight:  300gsm

Pages: 40

Suitable for: Watercolor painting, gouache, pencil, pen, markers, charcoal and colored pencils.

Canson Watercolor Paper is known for its excellent quality. This heavyweight, cold-pressed watercolor paper is durable and holds up to firm erasing of pencil marks. It also holds watercolor paint well.

The pages are easily removed so that your artwork can be put on display, and they paper is acid free and non-fading. This sketchbook is ideal for studio work and lays flat so that you can work on a double spread.

Field Artist 4” x 4” Square Watercolor Journal

Best Watercolor Sketchbook For Urban Sketching

Size: 4” x 4”

Paper Weight: 200gsm

Pages: 80

Suitable for: Watercolor or ink washes, pencil, pen, charcoal, and markers

The Field Artist Watercolor Sketchbook comes in a square format which is the perfect format for Instagram artwork posts.  This watercolor sketchbook contains high-quality, 200gsm, cold-pressed paper which is ideals for watercolor or ink washes, sketching, and mixed media art. It is a perfect watercolor sketchbook for artists wanting to work en Plein air or for carrying it around urban scenery. This sketchbook is durable and is hardbound in soft, gray thermo-PU leather. As a cool extra, it has a panorama fold-out in the back cover for an elongated drawing surface.

Strathmore 483-5 Softcover Watercolor Art Journal

Best Watercolor Sketchbook For Watercolor Painting

Size: 8” x 5.5”

Paper Weight: 300gsm

Pages: 24

Suitable for: Watercolor, ink, pen, pencil, mixed media and most other media.

Strathmore paper is high-quality with a natural white color and is perfect for mastering ink and watercolor washes. Because the 300gsm paper has a good tooth, it is also ideal for mixed media artwork. This is a great sketchbook to use both in studio and en plein air and is lovely to hold with its velvety soft cover.

Canson XL Series Watercolor Sketchbook

Size: 9” x 12″

Paper Weight: 300gsm

Pages: 60

Suitable for: Watercolor, gouache paint, ink, pen, pencil, mixed media and most other media.

This Canson XL Watercolor sketchbook is a lovely large size. It is ideal for larger artwork compositions. You can also get this sketchbook in size 18″ x 24″ – which is slightly larger than A2 if you would like to work on a larger scale.

There are 30 sheets (60 pages) of 300gsm cold pressed paper and this sketchbook is great for studio work. This sketchbook is also side-wire bound and the paper is acid free.

Leda Art Supply Pocket Stitched Sketchbook or Field Journal

Best Pocket Field Watercolor Sketchbook

Size: 3.5” x 5.5”

Paper Weight: 216gsm

Pages: 160

Suitable for: Light watercolor washes, pencil, ink, pen, pastel, charcoal.

Leda Pocket Stitched Sketchbook or Field is ideal for light color washes and most dry media. It fits easily into your pocket for easy travelling and watercolor sketching anywhere. It has 160 pages so won’t be used up too quickly and is bound in a durable weather which means it is ideal for the outdoors. It has been tested by wilderness guides who take the Pocket Leda on backpack trips in the Rocky Mountains! It really is the perfect field journal and a great gift for lovers of the outdoors!

How is a watercolor sketchbook different from a regular sketchbook?

A watercolor sketchbook is a sketchbook which is aimed at artists or illustrators who intend to use watercolor paint (or in combination with mixed-media art processes) on the pages inside. This means that the paper in the sketchbook must be of a high quality and be able to hold water, or liquid substances without buckling, rippling, or warping.

I recommend having your own watercolor sketchbook as it provides a fabulous outlet for creative inspiration and ideas and is an asset to creative living!

watercolor painting of a leaf in a sketchbook with some paintbrushes above it

How do I choose a sketchbook?

There are various factors to consider when you are choosing a watercolor sketchbook to buy.


What is the best sized watercolor sketchbook?

It is important to reflect on your own personal artistic processes and art making. What size are you comfortable working on and what size do you usually work on?

Perhaps you enjoy watercolor painting on a large scale and so a larger sized sketchbook would be better suited to your needs.

Bear in mind that if you choose a larger watercolor sketchbook, it can be more difficult to carry around – especially if you are using it for watercolor illustrations like urban sketching or en plein air watercolor painting. If you want a sketchbook that is portable and easy to carry then you may need to choose a smaller size.

On the other hand, if you choose a too-small sketchbook, you might feel frustrated by the limited space available for your artmaking.

However, this all depends on your style of art making and what size you usually work on.

If you are a completely newbie, then it is a good idea to test out some quick impromptu sketching, art making, or watercolor painting on different-sized plain sheets of paper to get a sense of what would better suit your needs.

Spend an hour painting someone at a café on a sheet of A6 Paper, or sit on your balcony and illustrate a stationary bicycle on an A4 page.

I personally find that a square 8.25 x 8.25 watercolor sketchbook is my ideal sketchbook size for watercolor and mixed media artmaking. This size provides me with enough room to play and paint a watercolor illustration if I am painting en plein air. However, it also is easy to carry around and keep in my backpack in necessary.


This is a really important factor because you want to make sure you have selected a sketchbook that is strong enough to last and protect your artwork.

The best watercolor sketchbook must be well bound and have a waterproof protective cover to prevent the book from buckling and the pages from getting damaged. It also really helps to have an elastic band or tie of sorts to hold your books closed. This will prevent your book from opening and getting damaged if you happen to travel with it.

Paper Weight

Make sure to choose a travel sketchbook that has good quality paper heavy paper.

A good quality watercolor sketchbook will have cotton paper that is at least 200gsm. This is perfect for sketching, using dry media, and light washes on the paper. It will also tolerate you using an eraser quite firmly on the surface without it tearing.

If you want to work with markers or fountain pens, it is recommended to go for a heavier paper weight, – 230gsm or more. This means the paper is denser and won’t have ink bleed through it.

300gsm cotton paper is ideal for painting with watercolor and ink washes. You should also choose a travel sketchbook with 300gsm paper if you are looking for a sketchbook in which to work on mixed media art. This paper will easily hold various liquid glue and gel mediums without buckling or tearing.

Cold-pressed or Hot Pressed

A good watercolor sketchbook can have either cold-pressed or hot-pressed paper. Cold-pressed paper has more texture to it and has a more pronounced tooth, whereas hot-pressed paper is smoother with almost no tooth.

The bumps and texture of cold-pressed paper more often allows it to better hold and absorb liquid without buckling. This makes cold-press paper ideal for watercolor painting and ink washes, as well as mixed media art.

Hot-pressed paper doesn’t hold liquid quite as well and lighter weight hot-pressed paper tends to buckle when washes are applied to the surface. For this reason, hot-pressed paper is better suited for dry media like graphite pencil, charcoal, pen and colored pencil. It is important to note that markers will work on heavier gsm hot-pressed paper, but bleed through will occur on thinner paper.

Amount of Pages

Choose a sketchbook that is easy to open and to store. A sketchbook with too many pages can make it more difficult to carry around if you are using it for urban sketching or need to keep it with you on your travels. Aim for a balance between a good number of pages (at least 70), and something that isn’t too heavy.


Think about what sort of layout you want. If you would like to work on a two-page spread at once, then it is a good idea to get a lay flat watercolor sketchbook. This means that the sketchbook will open up and lie flat so both pages can be worked on at the same time. Essentially, you can create artwork that extends over both pages.

It is very useful to have a lay-flat watercolor sketchbook if you are painting botanicals or detailed illustrations where you don’t want to be holding the sketchbook open all the time.

That being said, having a sketchbook that you can hold with one hand, and paint in with the other is absolutely fine! In fact, that’s how many artists work!

What is the best watercolor sketchbook for beginners?

Canson Artist Series Watercolor Pad

What is the best watercolor sketchbook for mixed-media?

Tumuarta Square Watercolor Journal

What is the best watercolor sketchbook for professional artists, illustrators and designers?

Strathmore 483-5 Softcover Watercolor Art Journal

What is the best watercolor sketchbook for art journaling?

This is a tough one! Art journaling is such a personal thing… and it really depends on what you want your art journal to ‘feel’ like! I like to test out different kinds of sketchbooks for art journals and at the moment I am using the Arteza 8.25” x 8.25” Watercolor Book which I am really enjoying.

I like the square format and I find that the linen cover feels good to hold. The sketchbook 230gsm paper is ideal for watercolor washes and it definitely holds up to mixed media work!

arteza watercolor sketchbook

Do you need watercolor paper for watercolor pencils?

The pigment in watercolor pencils is activated once water is applied to the dry pencil mark. Generally, one uses less water with watercolor pencils than with watercolor paint. Watercolor paint allows for greater areas of washes. Due to this, you can definitely get away with using slightly lighter gsm paper for watercolor pencils – at least a 200 gsm paper upwards for watercolor pencil drawing.

What kind of paper do I use for watercolor?

The best type of page or paper for watercolor would be at least 300gsm paper, either hot or cold-pressed. Cold-pressed paper has more surface texture and tends to hold water better.

What can I use if I don’t have watercolor paper?

You can also use rice paper, parchment paper, or alternatively home-made paper. There are also artists blocks or watercolor boards you can use to watercolor on.

Can I make my own watercolor paper?

You can absolutely make your own watercolor paper! Infact, painting watercolor on handmade paper can have a beautiful finish!

Watch this great video by Artrageous with Nate on How to Make Your Own Watercolor Paper

What should I do in my watercolor sketchbook?

Here are some tips and ideas for working in your watercolor sketchbook:

Set up a creative space at home

Even if you don’t have an art studio, you can still make a creative space in your home where you can escape and makes some art. Turn a corner of your bedroom, living room or kitchen into a little art-making nook!

[ Wondering How to Find Your Art Style? Read this blog post!]

Release the desire to paint perfectly or make perfect art

Do not have fixed expectations about the outcome of your artwork – especially when you are painting with watercolor. Watercolor is a very freeing medium to work in, because you have to allow it to do what it does! You cannot exactly control how the pigment will bleed or bloom when painting wet-on-wet.

Commit to working in your watercolor sketchbook regularly

Consistently working in your watercolor sketchbook will get your creativity flowing and new ideas and thoughts will emerge. You will also find your watercolor painting skills will improve with this regular practice.

[Want to improve your sketchbook? Read my article on the Top Sketchbook Tips & Tricks]

Annotate your drawings

Just because it’s a watercolor sketchbook doesn’t mean you can’t write in it too! It’s a great idea to write down notes about what you are painting and your feelings about your chosen subject matter.

10 best watercolor sketchbooks

Other Watercolor Articles You May Enjoy:

Gouache vs Acrylic Paint | What’s the best paint for you?

Looking For a Mixed Media Sketchbook? 16 Best Mixed Media Sketchbooks for Wet & Dry Media

How to Paint a Cherry Blossom Watercolor

Urban Sketching 101

Pen and Ink Watercolor Flowers

Carrying Art Supplies to Class

Best Gifts for Artists Who Draw

Best Gifts for Artists Who Paint

Watercolor Galaxy Ideas

Gorgeous Watercolor Backgrounds & How to Paint Them

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