Notebook Review: Sketchnote Ideabook

I’ve been a huge fan of Mike Rohde‘s Sketchnote project and his Sketchnote Handbook and Sketchnote Workshops. In general, he’s an all-around great guy and when I heard he’d created a Sketchnote Ideabook to meet his exacting standards for sketchnoting, I was all-in.

Partnering with Airship notebooks, the Sketchnote Ideabook is a soft-touch, hardcover A5 notebook with all the features you’d want in a sketchnote notebook. It features an elastic band (in bright turquoise) for closure, a gusset pocket in the back for ephemera, lay-flat design and heavyweight, bright white paper (160gsm/110lb). Oh, and TWO ribbon bookmarks: one orange and one turquoise.

The soft-touch covers are debossed on the front with sketchnote icons, on the spine with the brand logo and on the back with the tagline “Ideas not art” and the Airship logo.

Sketchnote Notebook inside cover

Inside the front cover are tips for sketchnoting. These are reminders from the book or a jumping off point. There’s also a place to write your name and other pertinent info.

Sketchnote Notebook inside back cover

On the inside of the back cover are tips for page layouts.

Sketchnote Notebook sketch

My first test in the Sketchnote Ideabook was to do one of my Inktober drawings. Yes, I know… “ideas not art” but Inktober drawings aren’t ART with a capital A. Besides, it was a great opportunity to test a bunch of markers without doing another simple line-by-line writing test. I used Copic markers, a Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen and pencil.

Sketchnote Notebook reverse of sketch

No bleed through! This is almost unheard of with Copic alcohol markers so just pause here for a moment and revel in the fact that both sides of the paper could be used.

Sketchnote Notebook sketchnote test

I also tested the paper with more traditional sketchnoting techniques. I listened to a new podcast called “Nice Try” and took notes throughout the various episodes through the first season: Utopia. Again, I used my Kuretake Fudegokochi marker for the most part and combined it with my Pilot Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock Gel Pen 04 and my new Pelikan Star Ruby.

reverse of sketch

Again, there was no visible show through or bleedthrough. The paper is a bit toothy. If you prefer the glass smooth surface of Rhodia paper, the paper in the Sketchnote Ideabook will definitely feel rougher to you. It reminds me of bristol board to a certain extent, if you could fold it and bind it.

Sketchnote Notebook back cover

Overall, this is a great notebook for the specific type of task it was created for. When I added the more wet media of markers, the paper got a little wavy so this is definitely not the right book for watercolor or other heavy water applications. It was designed for sketchnoting and that’s really what it is best for.

When I submitted my questionnaire for the Kickstarter, it asked what other options I might like to see in the future for the Sketchnote Ideabook. I have had the advantage of actually having it in hand when the question was asked. While one of the options was different colored covers (purely aesthetic), the other question was for printing the paper with lines, dot grid or a combination of blank and grid, etc. I think dot grid might be advantageous for some folks in keeping boxes, lettering and other elements aligned but I think, for it’s purpose, everything else is superfluous.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by Sketchnote Ideabook for the purpose of review. In fairness, I did back the Kickstarter with my own money as well, I just got a pre-release edition of the notebook for review purposes as well. Some items in this review include affiliate links. The Well-Appointed Desk is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. Please see the About page for more details.


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3 comments / Add your comment below

    1. Mary, did you see the detailed reply that Mike from Airship Notebooks left? Sorry that I didn’t provide more detailed information about sketchnoting. I shouldn’t assume that everyone has already heard of it.

  1. Sketchnoting is a method of taking notes that uses a combination of words and pictures to capture ideas and information. Since many people learn and remember things better in a more visual format (as opposed to the standard method of notetaking that relies primarily on lists, words and sentences), sketchnoting can help the person taking the notes (the sketchnoter) to understand and recall the sketchnoted information better.

    Sketchnoting can be used in a variety of settings and scenarios, such as at conferences, work meetings, classes in school, and (one of Mike Rohde’s favorite things to sketchnote) sporting events.

    The pictures (or “sketches”) can take the form of basic shapes, containers, connectors, icons and symbols, and illustrations… or just methods of emphasizing specific text.

    Hope that helps.

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