Notebook Review: Paperblanks Sketchbook

After my successes with the Paperblanks blank notebooks in 100gsm & 120gsm I decided to try out the Paperblanks Arabica Sketchbook ($34.95) with 200gsm paper.

Once the stickers are removed from the cover, the aged look and gold trim is much more evident. I like that it already looks weather beaten. Even with the gold, it feels less precious. And the scuff hide the kitten scratch on the lower edge of the spine. Those kittens still aren’t very graceful.

The sketchbook features matte touch hardcovers with metallic gold foil details. The book measures 8¼” x 11¾” so its a bit taller than US Letter paper. This is the only sketchbook size that Paperblanks sells and is a bit larger than I like but I let myself pull out wider brushes, big markers and other tools I don’t often use in my smaller, daintier sketchbooks.

Sketchbook Features:

Like other Paperblanks notebooks, the sketchbooks include a gusseted pocket in the back and TWO ribbon bookmarks!

The bookmarks are folded into the book when it arrives, one gold and one red.

When unfolded, the ends are trimmed at an angle and unlikely to fray. Such a delightful addition. I cna’t think of any other sketchbook with these details.

The Paper:

The paper is 200gsm bright white and the sketchbook includes 112 pages. This paper is THICK! It’s a very smooth paper. Not as slick as Rhodia paper but there is very little tooth or texture. The smoothness of the paper won’t shred your felt tip and foam brush pens. Pencils lay down a smooth even line as well.

I immediately went for all my multi-media supplies: gesso, brush pens, ink, markers, watercolor brushes, etc. The butterflies doodled above is a smudge of unbleached titanium gesso over some previous pen tests so that I could “re-use” the page with brush pen and watercolor.

The above sketch was a doodle created from ink splats and a Zig Clean Color DOT marker. I love the dual tips on the DOT marker to create random sized dots, thick lines and extra fine lines.

On this sketch, which is on the other side of the butterfly doodle, is collage, stickers, washi and brush pens.

This experiment combined Sailor Shikiori Brush Pens Caran d’Ache Neoclor II crayons, brush markers and some collage. As written, its a bit of a hodge-podge. I could gesso over the whole mess and “start over” or….

I took advantage of the perforation of the pages and removed the offending sketch. This perforation will also allow you to remove a page if you create a masterpiece and want to frame or scan your work.

General Pen Tests:

I had great luck with a wide variety of tools ranging from felt tip, gel, rollerball and marker. Rubber stamping ink and even alcohol markers seem to do fine on the paper as well. The shimmer and sheen in fountain pen inks was visible too.

However, my Platinum Carbon Desk Pen feathered. I was using the 14K nib which behaves a little differently from the standard steel nib but the feathering surprised me. I am not sure if the nib is so fine that it was tearing whatever sizing is on the paper allowing the ink to soak into the fibers.

From the reverse side of my test page, there is NO showthrough at all. Not in person or on camera. This is definitely a sketchbook where you can easily use both sides of the paper without any issues.

Final Impressions:

Overall, I really like this sketchbook and I was tickled to play on this larger size. The feathering of the fountain pen ink was a bit distressing but the fact that fountain pen ink in markers or splattered on the page performed better definitely makes me think that the fine sharp tip was slicing through the sizing on the paper. So, I will continue to experiment and play with this big book and since the paper is thick enough, if the fountain pens make a mess, I’ll just gesso over it and do something else. It feels strangely liberating to just be laissez faire about this sketchbook.


DISCLAIMER: Paperblanks  Sketchbook was purchased with funds from our Patrons.  If you would like to support this site,  join our Patreon. Thank you!

Other items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. The other items in the review were purchased by myself. Please see the About page for more details

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2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I love your playful experiments on the pages. I haven’t tried the sketchbook (I love that the pages are perforated!), but have used many other Paperblanks projects and have always found then to be multi-pen friendly. I may have to get one of these sketch books now.

    Thanks for trying this out for us.

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