Review by Tina Koyama
I’ve been aware of Maruman sketchbooks for a while, but I hadn’t tried one, mainly because most formats are too large for my sketching lifestyle. The Zuan series, however, includes a postcard size (about 4-by-6 inches) that seems ideal for urban and travel sketching, so I picked up a pad (50 sheets for $6).
Unlike most sketchbooks, this one has a glued binding that enables easy removal of individual pages. That feature invites using the sheets as actual postcards and sharing them by mail.
Given that the paper weight is 126.5 gsm (less than 50 lbs.), I assumed that the stock is intended for dry media. First I scribble-tested a few pencils and a fine-point Copic Multiliner to see what the surface looks like. It has a coarse, regular tooth that gives pencil lines an interesting texture. I didn’t care for using the multiliner on that strong tooth, though, and I didn’t even try a fountain pen (that sort of texture with a fountain pen sets my teeth on edge).
Next, I thought I’d try a watercolor pencil sketch, thinking that the paper could probably handle a light wash. It did – and quite nicely. In fact, after drying completely, the slight buckle where I activated the garlic’s shadow flattened completely.
Then I tried some water-soluble markers – Caran d’Ache Fibralo and Art Alternatives Fine Liners – blended with a little water, and a permanent-ink Faber-Castell Pitt Big Brush Artist Pen. All worked beautifully, yielding crisp colors with no bleed-through. The paper’s surface, however, pilled a bit where I added more color to the already wet surface.
Again, the paper showed no buckling afterwards. Encouraged by that, I decided to splash some watercolor onto it. Honestly, I didn’t think it could handle the relatively wet wash I threw down.
To my surprise, after drying completely, the remaining buckle was insignificant for 50 lb. paper. The sizing is probably not ideal for showing off vibrant watercolor hues, but for sending a sketched postcard greeting while traveling, it performs much better than I expected.
When I was done with that page, I tore it out, and it came out easily and cleanly. The rest of the sheets, however, remain firmly attached to the glued binding, so it can be used as a conventional sketchbook, too.
The Maruman Postcard Sketch Book is a handy little book to carry along with favorite sketch materials and a book of stamps. I would be thrilled to receive a sketched postcard. . . maybe I’ll send one!
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