In my last blog, I shared my review of 6 different alcohol markers. The next question always is: 'Which sketchbook is best for alcohol markers? Of course, I'm more than happy to buy even more sketchbooks than I need and test them extensively. This is the result: my experience with 5 different alcohol marker sketchbooks in a row for you, with a very special one to start with...
By the way, do you prefer to work on separate sheets of paper instead of in sketchbooks? Then I recommend using Bristol or marker paper. You can find more information about this in this blog.
The most perfect sketchbook? The one by NienkeVletter (yup, that's me)!
The end of 2022 brought something special: I launched my own line of stationery products, together with Vaessen Creative. From a unique corner punch with matching labelblock to a Planner Journal, rose gold stationery items and sticker sheets. But perhaps I am most proud of the 3-in-1 sketchbook! Finally one sketchbook in which you can work with all your favorite materials.
In this 17.5 x 17.5 cm sketchbook you will first find 200 gsm mixed media paper. This paper works incredibly well with coloured pencils, but is also suitable for pastels, markers, gouache and even light watercolour washes.
Do you really want to dive in with your brushes and enjoy many layers of watercolour? For that purpose you will find sturdy off-white 300 gsm cold pressed watercolour paper in the middle.
And last but not least: 240 gsm smooth Bristol paper! This paper is perfect for alcohol markers, but also for brush pens, fineliners or gel pens, for example. Your markers will ghost on the back of the paper, but it hardly bleeds through! This only happens when you add a lot of layers.
And the biggest advantage of this sketchbook? You no longer have to switch between multiple sketchbooks or drag along several ones. Instead you can put all your creations in one sketchbook!
Nice price, nice result: Ohuhu Marker Pad
Ohuhu not only produces very fine (and very affordable) alcohol markers, but also offers matching sketchbooks. This Marker Pad is available in 3 sizes: 17,5 x 16,5 cm, 21 x 21 cm and A4 size.
This sketchbook scores a lot of points! It has 30 pages and firm, smooth, white paper of 200 gsm. The cover looks pretty chic with a kind of leather look, there's a sturdy soft elastic band around it and there's a reading ribbon inside. The sketchbook lies flat when you open it and the pages all have a perforation on the side. Did your illustration succeed (or failed miserably)? Then you can easily take out that page.
Are there any disadvantages? A small disadvantage, but Ohuhu has a nice solution for it. This paper does bleed through, but you get a soft flexible plastic sheet with every sketchbook. Just place it behind your page and the ink won't bleed onto the next page. Problem solved!
A great combi: MyArtBook with UltraSmooth paper
If you've been following my blog for a while now, you've seen MyArtBook before. I got this sketchbook from paper supplier Papicolor and ordered their UltraSmooth paper myself to test with alcohol markers. And that works! The paper of 140 gsm is incredibly smooth and alcohol markers work perfectly on it. I did most of my Inktober portraits in this sketchbook. Although a ring binder still isn't my favorite, it's nice that you can put your own favorite paper in it. Especially if you like to work with many different materials, this is a handy solution.
The only thing you still have to deal with is the bleed-through of the markers. I discussed this with MyArtBook. At Ohuhu you get that plastic sheet, but MyArtBook, as a paper supplier, wanted a more environmentally friendly solution. A few days later they called me back to tell they had already found a solution: their own 'Translucent' paper. A sheet of this paper behind the page and the alcohol markers won't bleed onto the next page. Of course I tested this for you, and indeed: works like a charm. Order a package of the transparent paper with the UltraSmooth paper and you're good to go!
All different MyArtBook sizes and the paper are available here.
A setback: Crescent's Rendr Sketchbook
I saw this sketchbook on YouTube (watching illustrator vlogs is my favorite Sunday afternoon activity :-). Everyone seemed lyrical about this sketchbook, because the paper prevents ink from bleeding through and even promises 'No show thru' on the back.
I quickly ordered one and my expectations were high. Too high. Indeed alcohol markepapers don't bleed through or show on the other side of the paper, no matter how many times you layer the ink. I believe there is some kind of coating in between the paper that prevents this. Very nice, but that coating is also the problem. The result became very streaky. The ink seems to stay on the paper, so it doesn't blend well or sometimes even forms a shiny layer on top. The promised 'flat lay' is also disappointing. A great sketchbook for fineliners for example, but unfortunately not for my alcohol markers.
Available on Amazon
A new addition: the Comic Book by Clairefontaine
A last minute addition to this blog and a good one!
While working on this blog, I received the newsletter of Hobbyshop-online, announcing that they had new sketchbooks by the brand Clairefontaine in their shop. Clairefontaine is known for the Rhodia paper (very nice for brush pens and calligraphy) and the Paint On paper, which I like to use for mixed media. This new sketchbook is specially made for alcohol markers. With paper that is not bleeding through and is suitable for double-sided use. I immediately send an e-mail to Hobbyshop-online to ask if they'd like me to review the sketchbook. The next day I found one on my doormat (thank you!).
Because of my experience with the Rendr sketchbook I was skeptical. I opened the Comic Book at the back to swatch some colors (I always swatch on the last page) and the first color bled through immediately. Say what?! I checked again...only to find out that the first and last sheets are thinner sheets of paper. Oops, my mistake ;-).
I grabbed one of the thicker pages for attempt number 2 and yes: perfect. The colors blended evenly and the paper doesn't bleed through at all! You don't see anything on the other side of the paper, so you can use all 32 pages on both sides. Win win.
This paper is again nice and white and firm: 220 gsm. The paper is fairly smooth and gets a bit rougher when yo,u've colored on it with alcohol markers. Which I personally like, because it creates a bit more structure to draw an extra layer with colored pencils - which I also like to do. More good news? This sketchbook also has a real 'flat lay': the sketchbook lies completely flat when you open it.
So are there any disadvantages?*update 2021 Yes, actually there are 2 flaws. It can take a while for the ink to get to the right color, so you don't see right away what the final result is. Also, when layering, the ink feathers out more than in the other marker sketchbooks. Something to take into account while drawing (read: color well inside the lines). But despite these flaws, this might be one of my new favorite sketchbooks for alcohol markers!
Available in various sizes at Hobbyshop-online.
Join me! Online course with alcohol markers.
Do you want more tips about alcohol markers so you can fill your own sketchbook? I've got you covered with the courses Illustrative portraits and Illustrative Characters In 5 lessons I'll show you how to illustrate with alcohol markers, how to sketch faces or people from head to toe using reference pictures and how to add color with the markers.
PS Most links in this article are affiliate links. Are you planning on buying one of the sketchbooks? It would really help me if you order using these links! It won’t cost you anything extra, but I’ll earn a small percentage of the sales made. Which will help me writing more of these blogs.
Shopping at BeCreativeShop.nl? Use the code NienkeVletter and you will get 5% discount on your materials! Thank you so much!