Review: Leuchtturm 1917 Sketchbook

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook

I recently discovered that Leuchtturm1917 makes a sketchbook notebook with 180gsm paper. I am sure this is to compete with Moleskine’s sketchbook line but since many people find Leuchtturm1917 to be superior, I wanted to test their sketchbook out for myself. I purchased the A5 sized hardcover in classic black on Amazon.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook

The sketchbook version of the Leuchtturm1917 notebook features all the same details that the standard notebooks include like the ribbon bookmark, the horizontal elastic closure, the gusseted pocket in the back and a place on the front flyleaf for your contact information. The corners are rounded like the regular notebooks too which is not a feature usually found in artists’ sketchbooks.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook inside coverLeuchtturm1917 sketchbook pocket

Inside, the paper is bright white and smooth with just a little tooth. My first experiments included attempting to rub a lot of watercolor into the paper which was more than it could handle and the fibers started to pill. The paper was good and absorbent though, unlike the Moleskine sketchbook paper, and the inks and liquids stayed put and did not bead up or bleed. It’s actually nice paper, its just not sized for watercolors or a lot of heavy wet rubbing.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook writing test

I played with fine nib felt pens and the lines stayed fine and crisp. Watercolor brush pens were well-behaved too. So then I went crazy.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook pencil test

I tested out a whole page of pencils: Magic pencils and watercolor pencils and even added more water. The paper took water fine as long as I didn’t try to grind it into the paper.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook brush pen test

I took out all my brush pens and discovered more than a few of them had started to dry out but the Leuchtturm1917 180gsm paper handled the ink like a champ. Fat pens, skinny pens, wet pens, dry pens… it didn’t care.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook fountain pen test

Fountain pens, you ask? Loved them. Inks sat up on the paper and the colors were crisp and clear. This paper would be great for ink sampling since you could test both swabs and in pen on the same paper without it curling or warping, all in a neat book.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook gel pen test

I even had fun playing with my massive assortment of gel pens. The inks dried in a reasonable amount of time on the paper, even some of those finicky Gelly Rolls and the colors look great on the bright white.

Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook felt pen test

I kept playing with all my felt tip pens too, from wide brush style to fine Microns and they all performed equally well on the paper.

The Fountain Pen page is even on the reverse side of one of the other writing samples so you know there was no issue with bleed through or show through. So while the book is a bit more expensive than the regular Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, you will definitely be able to use both sides of the paper no matter what tools you plan to use.

The sketchbook pages are not numbered like the notebooks but I think that’s okay. In fact, I’d rather not have page numbers in the way of my drawings, especially if I might end up scanning the art in for a finished piece.

All in all, I really like the quality of the paper in the Leuchtturm1917 sketchbook and I like that it is so much more opaque than the regular paper. There’s only 96 pages in the sketchbook compared to the 249 pages in the plain notebook but being able to genuinely use both sides of the paper or work across a spread is a big plus.

UPDATE (9/17/2016):

Teresa in the comments asked about whether the Leuchtturm 1917 Sketchbook worked well with Copic markers. Here’s my experience with them so far:


On the front of the stock, the colors look good. I have a lot of pale, pastel Copic Sketch markers but the paper in the Leuchtturm Sketchbook handled the color nicely.


There was definitely bleed through on the reverse of stock. Oh, yeah. But if you’re aware that it will bleed through and plan accordingly, the Leuchtturm 1917 sketchbook makes a good sketchbook for Copic markers.


I do recommend putting a sheet of scrap paper under your page though because some darker colors will bleed through to the next page and through the back of that like a damn laser beam. If you have one of those flexible plastic pencil boards, I would slide it under your working page to protect the next page from any transfer. Otherwise, the Leuchtturm 1917 sketchbook takes Copic markers well and doesn’t make the color look splotchy or weird.

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9 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Did you do all these tests on consecutive pages? Because dang, I’m not seeing any ghosting/bleed through on ANY of these photos!

    1. Annie, there was no bleeding at all and only a tiny bit of show through where the thickest brush pen marks were so it really is wuite resilient paper.

    1. Would you believe I just tested Copics on the Leuchtturm sketchbook this week? I’ll add photos to the post as an update today.

    1. Its not so much that the paper warped but that it pilled if rubbed too much. With light applications of paint, the paper should behave okay. If you do a lot of watercolor though, I’d recommend trying either Stillman & Birn sketchbooks or the Moleskine watercolor sketchbook.

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