Being fairly new (as I’ve said before), I’m exploring various drawing surfaces, trying to find one that is budget friendly enough that I don’t mind “screwing up”

I find I don’t like most sketchbooks.

  1. I’m left handed so my hand winds up hitting the spine unless I draw either backwards (i.e. back to front in the sketchbook) or if I draw exclusively in a landscape orientation
  2. Most of the sketchbooks I’ve tried the paper is too smooth. I realize this has a place depending on your medium.

I picked up some me-teinets (sp?) for pastels, I do like them for that purpose. I have not tried them for charcoal as recommended for the LOD course.

I picked up a larger sketchbook from Hobby Lobby that was “smooth” paper. I didn’t realize how smooth it was until the pencil just glided across the page, I found it difficult to develop a proper range of tones on this paper. It’s going to the kids.

Newsprint is ok for quick work or charcoal but I find it too flimsy.

I find mixed media paper semi-ok, but I have a hard time finding top bound pads.

I did pick up some Strathmore 300 paper (yellow cover) and I do like that a lot. But I find it expensive for sketching purposes.

Does anyone else have suggestions for surface media? I’m mostly practicing in graphite just due to the lack of mess and ease of portability. I actually prefer charcoal but haven’t figured out how to minimize the collateral damage to the surrounding area… and pastels??? sigh. Those are for the studio only.

I also find I like a minimum of 9x12, larger is better., I’ve done up to 11x14 and felt comfortable.

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have you tried the Strathmore visual journals? they come hard bound and open flat, though you might want a bull dog clip to help out when its new. I like their multimedia paper a lot.

Exactly as you state in your post Elizabeth, the ideal surface will almost always depend on your medium and process (additional considerations would include price point, availability, and longevity-sometimes described as archival quality.)

Speaking frankly, there are a ridiculous amount of drawing surfaces out there. Today we face find a vast spectrum of options regrading paper weight, size, color, tooth, binding (for pads/sketchbooks), etc…

First, you can indeed find top-bound (portrait) sketchbooks.

(I understand you already treid this one too!)


I have had a good experience with the Strathmore papers but have no experience with the Artist’s Loft brand.

The Canson Mi-Tientes papers are great for charcoal and pastel and has both a smoother and rougher vellum texture. (As you stated, this is what we recommend for the LoD program.)


Another paper that I have used that is slightly less “toothed” than the Mi-Tientes (which may make it attractive to you for graphite) is Strathmore’s Artagain.


(The link above is to a tablet of black paper but you can find assorted color pads and loose sheets of white below. It is not too expensive and is made from recycled paper (get it? Art-again…LOL!):



I agree with you totally that graphite is often ideal for travel and quick-cleanup. I’ll ask around and see if I can find more recommendations for graphite surfaces for you. If I find anything good I’ll post it here. :smiley:

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So this leads to the ever continuing question, what is considered a “budget” paper? Sketchbooks range from 5-$50 depending on size and quality and I’m aware of that. Is $0.13/sheet (based on 9x12 pad with 100/sheets) for a pad of the 300 paper considered ok for just practice? I saw the artagain is $10/24 sheets, which is about the cost of the mi-teintes.

I’m not planning on using these for finished pieces, but for practice and learning, so If I REALLY screw it up, I can throw an “artist tantrum” and rip it to shreds :laughing:

The only basis I have for pricing is the cost of a ream of cheap copier paper, where you get 500 sheets for about $5. I’m just trying to comprehend what is considered “decent priced” and wrap my brain around the cost/quality/result ratio :slight_smile:

I like the Strathmore 400 drawing paper a lot. I’ve used it for sketching, Bargue master drawings in graphite, and it’s great for ink or marker too. It can withstand a lot of erasing, whether for removing errors or extractive drawing. You can often find very good sales on it or use a 50% off coupon. Something some people don’t know is that Michael’s will accept the current 50% off coupon from other arts and craft stores like AC Moore or Hobby Lobby. My favorite size is the 8-10" If you like one of your drawings you can frame it quite Inexpensively. All of these were drawn on Strathmore Drawing 400.


Wonderful Dianne!!! Thank you for sharing these here.

Anthony, I am trying to check my proportions and shadow shapes etc. by laser printing a face I’m trying to replicate on vellum and then laying the paper on top of an ipad photo of my replication in progress (zoomed to scale). Any thoughts to make this smarter? Thanks

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Hey Cyndi! Can you elaborate on the process a bit more so I’m sure that I am understanding you correctly?

Trying to apply the same principle as the acetate over the shape replication exercises for accuracy. Using a printed image for duplication as the master and a photo of the drawn replication in process viewed on the ipad as the acetate. The light from the ipad illuminates the desired lines for comparison. I surely have not invented this. It’s helping me check my proportions and line shape very effectively.


Gotcha Cyndi!!! Very good idea! :smiley:

Thanks. I really need this visual check but I’m looking forward to getting it right the first time!

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