13 Best Sketching Paper In 2023: Reviews & Buying Guide

A director's storyboard sketch on paper

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Are you a newbie artist looking for paper to improve your sketching skill or a professional looking for an alternative to the brand you're using? You've come to the right place. This article reviews 13 of the best paper for sketching to turn your imagination into visual art.

While you may think that sketching and drawing are the same, there is a wide gap that separates them. Read on to learn the difference between drawing paper and sketching paper and why you should be discerning when choosing one.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Articka Note Hardcover Sketchbook


Runner-Up: Moleskine Art Sketchbook

Best Classic Design: Arteza Hardbound Sketchbook

Best Budget: Fuxi Top Spiral Bound Sketchpad

Best Protection: WA Portman Drawing Pad

Best Expandable Size: Peter Pauper Premium Black Sketchbook

Best Large-Format: Art-n-Fly Artists Sketchbook

Best Archival Quality: Watson Guptill Sketchbook

Best Art Journal: Canson Mixed Media Sketchpad

Best Heavyweight Paper: String & Space Hardcover Sketchbook

Best Pocket-Sized: Pacific Art Store Sketchbook

Best for Art Classes: Castle Art Supplies Sketchbook

Best Custom Cover: Conda Hardbound Sketchbook

1. Best Overall: Articka Note Hardcover Sketchbook

Artworks made with charcoal pencil and markers made on Articka sketchbook

Why We Think It's Great

  • EXCELLENT ERASABILITY: The paper responds well to erasing - no indentations, no smudging, and no piling on the surface. 
  • HIGH-QUALITY PAPER: Thick, 180gsm of bright white paper
  • PORTABLE SIZE: The 8x8-inch sketchbook is small enough to fit your purse or backpack when you're on the move.
  • DURABLE BINDING: The glue binding is durable and won't disintegrate after heavy abuse.
  • PRACTICAL: Usable for various art and craft projects

What We Don't Like

  • The soft faux leather cover doesn't recover well with indentations.

What Our Editors Say

"It's easy to love this sketchbook, what with its lovely faux leather cover, durable binding, and portable size. However, it works only for dry media like colored pencils, charcoal and graphite pencils, pens, and pastels. We tried inks and markers, as long as you keep a separate sheet underneath the sheet.

Some of our friends are picky with their sketchbooks, but finding this one is a blessing that artists love to have. Bleeding is very minimal and won't damage the paper surface. It also works well for various papercraft projects, including art, bullet journaling, and diaries.

We wish the 180gsm paper could withstand light washes of watercolor, but that would make the sketchbook perfect, so the manufacturer left that feature out (smirks). Nevertheless, it's worth mentioning that the overall design is a delight, including the purple inner cover and the elastic closure." 

Country of Origin: China   Product Options: 4.5x4.5", 8x8", 10x10" sketchbooks   Binding: Glue

2. Runner-Up: Moleskine Art Sketchbook

Pen sketches on a Moleskin sketchbook

Why We Think It's Great

  • PORTABLE DESIGN: A5 size sketchbook with a flat page so you can spread the sketchbook for other ùses
  • QUALITY PAPER: This sketchbook uses 165 gsm paper that can withstand pens, pencils, markers, and other supplies you use 
  • STRONG ELASTIC: The strong elastic closure gives added protection to your projects 
  • ELEGANT DESIGN: Moleskin uses a leather-like cover, giving it a classic design that artists love.

What We Don't Like

  • Ink may run along the edges.

What Our Editors Say

"We're delighted with the expandable pocket on the back cover of the sketchbook. It's the perfect addition to keep loose pages and reference images to keep your workspace organized. The sketchbook also comes in various classic colors - black, red, green, blue, and brown.

These sketchbooks have ivory pages, thick enough at 165 gsm to take on pencils, colored pencils, and ink from calligraphy pens and fountain pens. The paper won't work with watercolors but responds well with tempera and acrylic paint."

Country of Origin: Italy    Product Options: Pocket, medium, large, A4, and A3, 96 pages each, various colors   Binding: Thread binding

3. Best Classic Design: Arteza Hardbound Sketchbook

Artwork done on Arteza Hardbound Sketchbook

Why We Think It's Great

  • ACID-FREE, BRIGHT WHITE PAGES: 110 pages of 110 gsm acid-free paper
  • HIGH-QUALITY PAPER: Smudge-resistant paper with a slight texture and good erasability
  • TEXTURED HARDCOVER: Textured faux leather classic cover protects your sketches from any damage
  • DURABLE BINDING: Durable glue binding keeps the journal together, and the ribbon marker points you to your last work. 
  • LETTER-SIZED JOURNAL: Letter-sized journal gives you enough space to draw or write. 

What We Don't Like

  • Does not include an inner pocket for loose pages and reference images

What Our Editors Say

"The paper takes on colored pencils, graphite, charcoal pencils, Copic markers, and regular colored markers. However, it may reject some brands of erasable colored pencils. The bright white paper is excellent for keeping your projects vibrant and experiencing no discoloration after a long time.

The paper is not very thick, so you can experience heavy bleeding when working with alcohol markers. It helps if you use heavy cardstock to keep the markers from bleeding on the next pages. Though it is a sketchbook, it also works well with acrylic and tempera paints."

Country of Origin: USA   Product Options: Letter-sized journal sketchbook in single and packs of 2   Binding: Glue

4. Best Budget: Fuxi Top Spiral Bound Sketchpad

Fuxi Top Spiral Bound Sketchpad

Why We Think It's Great

  • PREMIUM MATERIALS: Bright white paper with micro-perforation for easier removal of the sheets. 
  • WIDE APPLICATION: Newbie and professional artists can use this sketchbook for drawing, sketching, and writing
  • ACID-FREE PAPER: No discoloration, yellowing, or cracking on the paper
  • LARGE-FORMAT: 9x12" sketchbook will give you enough space for your projects.

What We Don't Like

  • Won't work with markers and watercolor pencils

What Our Editors Say

"The sketchbooks come with a great price, making them perfect for newbies and professional artists. We love the slight texture on the paper; it grabs on the colored pencils and graphite, so you get good coverage and fine details.

You also get 200 sheets on these two sketchbooks, enough to perfect your practice projects. The top spiral wire binding is convenient since it won't get in the way when working on the sheets."

Country of Origin: China   Product Options: 9x12" sketchbooks in single, 2-pc, 3-pc, and 4-pc packs   Binding: Wire 

Related: Best Watercolor Pencils

5. Best Protection: WA Portman Drawing Pad

Pen and pencil sketches on WA Portman Drawing Pad

Why We Think It's Great

  • VERSATILE USE: May be used as a notebook, sketchbook, or journal.
  • DURABLE BINDING: Binding holds well to keep your drawing pad intact. 
  • COMPACT: A5 size drawing pad that will easily fit in your bag
  • WATERPROOF COVER: Protects your sketches and drawings from water damage
  • OUTER POCKET AND PEN LOOP: Keeps your pens and pencils in the pen loop and the outer pocket

What We Don't Like

  • Won't work with alcohol markers

What Our Editors Say

"While WA Portman drawing pad is not the best choice for alcohol markers, we love that it holds well for gel pens, ink washes, India ink, correction pens, charcoal, graphite, and colored pencils. You won't experience bleeding when used with ink and water-based markers. It may display slight warping when used with watercolors, but you can easily remedy this by taping the pages before using watercolors."

The pad's selling point is the travel-ready size and outer pocket. It is also very handy in its A5 format but easy to expand with its lay-flat design. The elastic closure is also a big help for keeping the page flat and closing the drawing pad.

Another point for this drawing pad is the waterproof cover that protects your sketches from damage. The textured PU cover also gives this pad a touch of sophistication and class without overly expensive." 

6. Best Expandable: Peter Pauper Premium Black Sketchbook

Pencil sketches on Peter Pauper Premium Black Sketchbook

Why We Think It's Great

  • ARCHIVAL QUALITY: Archival paper with a crisp white surface for excellent long-term quality
  • MEDIUM-WEIGHT PAPER: 128 gsm paper for less bleeding
  • FINE TOOTH: Slight texture for a better grab of colored pencils, charcoal, graphite, and pastels, but glides beautifully with ink pens.
  • MICRO-PERFORATED SHEETS: Easy-to-remove pages with micro-perforations on every sheet
  • BUDGET-FRIENDLY: Easy on the budget, especially for newbie artists.

What We Don't Like

  • The sticker is hard to remove

What Our Editors Say

"An excellent choice for sketch artists, designers, and everyone else who loves to draw. This pad is very budget-friendly, so you don't have to spend too much on your supplies. It is also large enough for your creative journals, thus making this pad a clear winner for us."

"Many artists choose this pad as their go-to paper for sketching because it is large enough for their creative whim. The cover feels like faux leather, ging it a classic look, while the micro-perforated sheets are true to the 8.5 x 11" after detaching it.

Another thing we appreciate about this sketchpad is that the front and back pages are of the same texture, so you can lay the pages flat to sketch on them without any issue with the quality of one side of the sketch. Left-handed artists will also love this pad."

Country of Origin: USA   Product Options: 5.5x8.5", 8.5x11"   Binding: Thread

7. Best Large-Format: Art-n-Fly Artists Sketchbook

Colored pencil art on Art-n-Fly sketchpad

Why We Think It's Great

  • acid-free PAPER: Preserves your artwork for a long time
  • VERSATILE USE: The sketchbook works for pencils, markers, pens, and other dry media application
  • FINE TOOTH: Subtle texture allows the pencils and pens to grab onto the paper
  • CONVENIENT BINDING: Spiral binding allows you to turn the pages over
  • WON'T BLEED WITH INK: This sketchbook works very well with ink and won't bleed

What We Don't Like

  • Won't work with markers

What Our Editors Say

"We love the subtle texture on this sketchbook because it has enough texture to grab the pigment from colored, graphite, and charcoal pencils but is still smooth enough to work with pens. However, it can't take on alcohol and water-based markers because it's not very thick.

This pad is an excellent gift for aspiring artists; pack it with a set of good colored pencils, and you're good to go, making it perfect for taking with you on your drawing trips."

Country of Origin:    Product Options: 5.5x8.5", 9x12"   Binding: Wire

8. Best Archival Quality: Watson Guptill Sketchbook

Artwork done on Watson Guptill Sketchbook

Why We Think It's Great

  • ARCHIVAL PAPER: Excellent archival quality and won't experience any discoloration,
  • VERSATILE USE: Artists can use it for mixed media, comics, and manga, but you can also use it for collages and other crafting projects
  • CUSTOMIZABLE HARDCOVER: The black faux leather cover is like a blank canvas that you can customize to fit your character
  • SUBTLE TEXTURE: This texture allows you to work with pencils and pens
  • ARTIST-RECOMMENDED: Well-recommended by artists and art authors

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn't lay completely flat

What Our Editors Say

"We wish the sketchbook could take on wet media and oil pastels, but they're perfect for sketches and drawings made with pencils and colored pencils. It doesn't lay completely flat, which can be annoying if you want to work on a larger format.

The removable sticker lets you customize the cover, while the thick paper won't get damaged even after several erasures. The paper is also bright white, so you get high-quality digital scanning if you want to produce prints for your sketches.

You can get it for a good price, and it is versatile too. You can use it for drawing projects, taking notes, journaling, and other similar projects."

Country of Origin: China   Product Options: 8.5x11 inches  Binding: Thread

9. Best Art Journal: Canson Mixed Media Sketchpad

Marker artwork done on Canson Mixed Media Sketchpad

Why We Think It's Great

  • ACID-FREE PAPER: The next best thing to archival paper when getting the best drawing paper
  • HEAVYWEIGHT PAPER: 160gsm paper to take on various wet and dry media
  • FINE TEXTURE: Paper has a nice texture for graphite, charcoal, and colored pencils
  • VERSATILE USE: Can take on pencils, colored pencils, pastels, and markers
  • PORTABLE: The 5.5x8.5-inch sketchbook is convenient as an art journal

What We Don't Like

  • Some bleeding when used with markers.

What Our Editors Say

"The paper stays good after several erasings. It doesn't respond well to mechanical pencils but is good with graphite and colored pencils, markers, and highlighters. We love the fine texture of this sketchbook, and it does not bleed on the back of the paper.

The micro-perforated sheets are also very convenient to use, the binding is sturdy, and the paper is thick enough to work with watercolors and acrylics. We recommend this sketchbook to everyone who loves to take their art on the road."

Country of Origin: France   Product Options:  5.5x8.5", 7x10", 9x12", 11x14", 14x17", 18x24" Binding: Wire

10. Best Heavyweight Paper: String & Space Hardcover Sketchbook

String & Space Hardcover Sketchbook filled with artwork

Why We Think It's Great

  • 200 GSM PAPER: Heavyweight paper is good enough for any kind of media
  • ACID-FREE PAPER: The acid-free paper keeps your artwork for a long time
  • MIXED MEDIA ART: You can use charcoal, colored pencils, oil pastels, watercolors, and markers
  • HEAVYWEIGHT COVER: Heavy cardboard paper keeps your art projects protected
  • DUAL-SIDED PAPER: You can work on any side of the paper since both sides are of the same textured surface

What We Don't Like

  • It may warp when applied with too much watercolor wash.

What Our Editors Say

"The hardcover sketchbook is an excellent choice for collage and scrapbook crafters and anyone who loves large-format art. The sheets are thick, and the cover is heavy, protecting the drawings. The binding is also sturdy and easy to turn over.

We love that the sheets don't bleed when you use markers on them. The surface also remains pristine even after several erasings. Though we cannot speak for other mediums, the sketchbook works well with colored pencils, fine line pencils, and markers."

Country of Origin:  USA   Product Options: 8.25x11.4" and 11.4x16.5  Binding: Wire

11. Best Pocket-Sized: Pacific Art Store Sketchbook

Pacific Art Store Sketchbook

Why We Think It's Great

  • ACID-FREE PAPER: Improved paper quality and design
  • LAY-FLAT DESIGN: Lays open if you want to have a bigger format than the page sizes
  • MIXED MEDIA SKETCHBOOK: Watercolors, markers, pencils, colored pencils, and pastels
  • DURABLE BINDING: The thread binding is durable and keeps your sketchbook together.
  • VERSATILE USE: Good enough for sketching, drawing, taking notes, bullet journaling, and mixed media arts

What We Don't Like

  • Cover feels cheap

What Our Editors Say

"This sketchbook is a great size for artists looking for something small enough to fit in their bag for taking creative notes when on the go. The sketchbook comes in different sizes and covers (Celtic, Kraft, and seagull design). The lay-flat design is a good way to expand the size of your sketchpad.

It uses durable paper; it is thick and takes on various mediums. Since it does not have a left or right side, it is easy for left-handed artists to use. Also, no need to worry about wires that may hurt your hand or get in the way of your drawing."

Country of Origin: USA   Product Options: 3.785x5.3", A5, and A4  Binding: Thread

12. Best for Art Classes: Castle Art Supplies Sketchbook

Pencil and pastel artwork on Castle Art Sketchbooks

Why We Think It's Great

  • MIXED MEDIA PAPER: Takes on colored pencils, graphite and charcoal pencils, watercolors, acrylic paint, pastels, brush pens
  • LASTING QUALITY: Paper is acid-free, resists smudging, and has no discoloration
  • GOOD VALUE FOR MONEY: Sold in pads of 2, with 100 sheets of 160gsm paper per pad
  • INCLUDES SIMPLE TUTORIAL: Every purchase of this sketchpad comes with a 5-stage tutorial for newbie artists
  • EXCELLENT AFTERSALES SERVICE: Customer service stays in touch with customers through social media and other channels

What We Don't Like

  • Bleeds when used with markers

What Our Editors Say

"We think that Castle Art Supplies Sketchbook is solid. At 100 sheets per pad, you get 200 sheets in one pack and good value on your money. We recommend this sketchbook to art students of any age since it gives you enough paper to practice.

The binding is sturdy, and the paper quality is excellent. It can take on various wet and dry media, though you can't use it for oils. Another good point about Castle Arts is the tutorial and the community of artists you can join after each purchase."

Country of Origin: China   Binding: Wire

Related: Best Paper for Charcoal Drawing

13. Best Custom Cover: Conda Hardbound Sketchbook

Artwork done on Conda sketchpads

Why We Think It's Great

  • EASY HANDLING: Easy to flip over and easy to remove pages, while the thick board covers support your drawings and sketches when outdoors. 
  • STURDY STRUCTURE: High-quality paper bound between two heavy boards and bound with double wire binding
  • ACID-FREE: The 80-sheet sketchbook uses acid-free paper, which keeps your artwork maintaining its quality over time.
  • VERSATILE: The unbleached paper can hold various dry media, including colored pencils, pastels, pens, etc.
  • FULL REFUND: Unconditional refund of your sketchbook within 365 days from purchase. 

What We Don't Like

  • Not the best choice for markers

What Our Editors Say

"What we love most about this letter-size sketchbook is the customizable covers. The black covers allow you to customize your covers to give your sketchbook the character it needs to showcase your talent.

However, we don't recommend using markers on this sketchbook because it is not thick enough at 90 gsm. The acid-free paper is another reason that Conda is well-loved among users. We're also elated with the 365-day extended warranty, so buying this sketchbook comes with a no-risk buying experience." 

Country of Origin: China   Product Options: 8x11", 11x14", 9x12   Binding: Wire

Final Verdict

Our best overall product for this review is the Articka Note Hardcover Sketchbook. We love the quality of the paper, the size, and the protection it offers for its users. The binding is very durable, and you can easily use this sketchbook for your art journal or take them on trips to showcase your work. 

Best Paper for Sketching Buying Guide

  • Acid-free / Archival

Archival or acid-free paper is not the foremost quality when choosing paper for sketching and drawing, but we recommend it to newbie artists so you can document your progress. Since acid-free paper lasts longer without discoloration or fading, you can easily compare your progress through the years.

Choose lignin-free paper when buying the more affordable paper made from wood pulp. The most common label you can see on the packaging is acid-free, but lignin-free means the same thing. 

On the other hand, pH-neutral may mislead newbie artists because while it may have a neutral pH when produced, the paper does not have an alkaline buffer that counters acidity that comes in contact with the paper.

Sources of acid contamination on your paper are very innocent and, therefore, need careful consideration. It is important to check labels to know if the drawing materials or the tape you use on your paper are acid-free. The oils on our fingers also introduce acid to our projects. 

  • Quality

Are you a professional artist or an art student? Art students usually scrimp on their supplies and therefore choose cheaper alternatives. Professional artists recommend heavier-weight paper so it can withstand several erasures.

Translucent paper, such as tracing paper or vellum, is a no-no since they are more expensive and are best for tracing or transferring patterns. For sketching, it is not necessary. The same is true with toned paper.

  • Pulp Source

Paper made from cotton does not contain lignin; therefore, it has better archival quality than paper from wood pulp. However, the downside of paper made from cotton rags is the price. You don't want to waste your precious quality paper on your sketches.

  • Texture

You can choose paper with a textured surface or a smooth surface. But when sketching, we recommend paper with a slight tooth, not overly smooth. The tooth grabs on the graphite or charcoal lead and reduces smudging.

  • Weight

You can use any paper type for sketching, and lighter paper is a good alternative, especially if you're a newbie. Stick to nothing below 80-90 gsm for your sketches. This weight is light yet thick enough for heavy erasures without causing the paper to pile.

Instead, we recommend you get a sketchpad that uses versatile paper to give you more freedom with your work. Sometimes, artists finalize their drawings on the same paper they used for their sketches, so it is important to use heavier paper. For quick studies, however, a thinner paper is perfect.

Here is a quick guide for the various paper weights and their recommended uses:

Weight in gsm

Weight in lb

Common Uses



Printer paper









Light drawing






General drawing



Watercolor paper

Sketching Paper FAQ

What kind of drawing paper is best for beginners?

One important feature of drawing paper is its ability to blend colors when using colored pencils or when working with charcoal or graphite pencils. Look for something at least 100 gsm to withstand the erasures without the paper piling.

What is the best paper to use for sketching?

There is no need to get quality paper for practice sketches. Most artists recommend using cheap printer paper, especially if you're going for very loose sketches. However, if you want to follow your sketching journey, a sketchpad with at least 70gsm paper is an excellent choice.

What is the difference between drawing paper and sketch paper?

Sketch paper can be any paper, especially for newbies. Sketch paper has a smoother surface than drawing paper but is lighter (less than 100gsm) and less expensive. As previously mentioned, even printer paper will suit this purpose.

However, if you're drawing, it is best to use archival (or at least acid-free paper) to preserve your drawings. Drawing paper also needs a medium tooth surface to grab the graphite, charcoal, colored pencils, pastels, etc. Expect a steeper price point for drawing paper because it is heavier (100-163 gsm).

Cotton cellulose paper is an excellent choice for photorealistic drawings because it does not need additives to make it whiter and acid-free.

Is sketching the same as drawing?

Though both use paper and pencil (or a graphic tablet and pen), sketching is more haphazard, while drawing is more refined and final.

Another striking difference is the lack of details in sketches. Sketching is more concerned with getting the general shape and proportion, while drawing focuses on giving details such as values and tones to create depth and likeness.

What are the main types of sketching?

  • Croquis

Sketching croquis is the most common sketch that fashion designers and cartoonists do to capture the poses of their live models. Croquis is a French word that simply means "sketch." They are usually exaggerated; taller for fashion sketching and shorter or disproportionate for cartoonists.

  • Pochade

Also known as landscape or travel sketch, artists use a quick color sketch or pochade to capture the fleeting effect of light on a landscape, especially when working outdoors. You'd like to bring a journal-sized sketchbook for travels to capture the place's scale, proportion, and ambiance.

  • Portrait Sketches

As the name implies, artists use a portrait sketch to capture the likeness and character of the model. Some artists try to capture quirks and expressions of the model to incorporate these snippets into the final portrait.

  • Design Sketches

Design sketches may include interior, industrial, or product design sketches. In this type of sketching, the designer shows the structural design and spatial composition of a car or a label’s overall look.

Why Trust Glytterati?

Our editors are passionate about art and crafting projects, so we only recommend products we genuinely believe in. We provide honest, unbiased reviews of the best art supplies, and we often consult with industry experts to make our content professional and friendly, even for beginners. So if you're looking for new ways to improve your creativity, we can help!

Read Next: The Best Paper Types for Art Projects

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