Best Mixed Media Sketchbooks of 2019: Complete Reviews with Comparisons

best mixed media sketchbooks of 2019 complete reviews with comparisons
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If you are an artist who likes to experiment with different mediums in your art, you know how critical it is to find the perfect sketchbook to handle them all. That is especially since even the best mixed media sketchbooks are not all created the same.

Many are marketed as being able to handle every medium of art, but hardly ever hold up to that promise. So, how do you find the perfect one? Here, we have highlighted the top five mixed-media sketchbooks you can find today.

We’ve taken into account paper size and weight as well as durability. These sketchbooks deliver when it comes to being able to use various media simultaneously. 

Comparison Chart

Strathmore 300 Series Mixed Media Pad

Deviazi Mixed Media Sketchbook

Strathmore 500 Series Visual Mixed Media Journal

Conda Spiral Sketch Pad Sketchbook 

Mr. Otter Studio Watercolor Paper Mixed Media Sketchbooks

Best Mixed Media Sketchbooks: Thorough Reviews

1. Strathmore 300 Series Mixed Media Pad

Strathmore is known for creating great options for artists and this mixed media pad is no exception. Strathmore offers a series of options ranging from their 100 series all the way to their 500 series. This option, the 300 series, is best for beginners and student artists.

Product Highlights

The Strathmore 300 Series Mixed Media Pad offers medium weight paper that can be used to practice a variety of techniques. It is acid-free and can be used with both wet and dry media. While this has a 9” x 12” size, it is also available in a variety of other sizes for added versatility.

This pad also boasts heavy chipboard backing for added durability as well as a double-spiral binding. There are also true-to-size micro-perforated sheets, and when you remove the pages, they will be the full 9” x 12” size.

What's to like about the Strathmore 300 Series Mixed Media Pad

We really like that you can use virtually any medium on the vellum surface in this sketchbook. Use it for colored pencil, pen and ink, graphite, markers, and pastels. It can even be used for light use with gouache and watercolor.

We also really like the true-to-size pages. When you remove the page, given the perforated edges, you still get the full page size. 

What's not to like about the Strathmore 300 Series Mixed Media Pad

We don’t like that you can’t really use oil pastels on the sheets of the Strathmore 300 Series Mixed Media Pad. The paper is just very absorbent, and it takes too much effort to smooth the pastels out. You would only end up wasting pastels trying to blend.

PROS

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    Heavy paper
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    True-to-size pages
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    Durable bind
  • Available in multiple sizes
  • Made in the USA

CONS

  • Not for use with oil pastels
  • The cover could be more durable
  • Tends to curl when used with watercolor

2. Deviazi Mixed Media Sketchbook  

This Sketchbook is a great option for all skills levels, as it can be used for virtually any artistic work. Its design makes it easily maneuvered whether you are right- or left-handed.

Product Highlights

This Deviazi sketchbook is ideal for painting, sketching, and mixed arts. It is even a great option for writing.

It supports wet and dry media such as acrylic paints, pastels, gouache, charcoals, markers, collages, colored pencils, and watercolors. Thus, you can use it for your acrylic painting just as easily as your pencil drawing.

The paper of the Deviazi Mixed Media Sketchbook is acid-free. There are 100 sheets, each measuring of 9” x 12”.

What's to like about the Deviazi Mixed Media Sketchbook

We absolutely love that the Deviazi Mixed Media Sketchbook has the spiral at the top of the book as opposed to the side. This just makes it easier to draw or paint with either hand and is a really great design characteristic.

We also really like that the paper seems to have the perfect thickness. You can paint easily enough without having to worry about your paint bleeding through. Likewise, you don’t have to use a lot of your paint to blend. The pages are also easily removed to help avoid any damage. 

What's not to like about the Deviazi Mixed Media Sketchbook

Even though the paper is acid-free, which is supposed to help with smudges, we find that drawing on this paper with pencil still tends to create smudges if you aren’t extra careful.

The paper in the Deviazi Mixed Media Sketchbook is pretty porous too so you also cannot use any alcohol-based ink, even though it is marketed as being compatible. We found that this is really the only media that doesn’t work well with this sketchbook.

PROS

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    Top-spiral bound
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    Thick paper
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    Pages easily removed
  • Comes with a satisfaction guarantee

CONS

  • Smudges when a pencil is used
  • Not for use with alcohol ink projects

3. Strathmore 500 Series Visual Mixed Media Journal

This is another option from the Strathmore line of mixed-media sketchbooks. The 500 Series is marketed for use with wet and dry media, including marker, watercolor, acrylic, pen and ink, pastel, colored pencil, collage, and gouache.

Product Highlights

The paper in this sketchbook is 90 pounds and acid-free. There are 68 pages in total. As is the case with Strathmore products, this sketchbook is made in the USA.

The Strathmore 500 Series Visual Mixed Media Journal is available in two sizes namely 5.5” x 8” and 9” x 12”. You can select the larger one to use at home while you can bring the smaller one with you on the go since it will easily fit in just about any travel bag.

The spiral binding is quite heavy and durable while the front and back covers have a matching design. There is a flysheet which can be removed to showcase the decorative front cover which has a nice detail. 

What's to like about the Strathmore 500 Series Visual Mixed Media Journal

The Strathmore 500 Series Visual Mixed Media Journal is a great sketchbook for more professional artists and its durability is really showcased. We like the decorative cover, which gives it a nice detail once you remove the flysheet.

Unlike some other similarly marketed sketchbooks, this one from Strathmore has very minimal page curling when you paint with acrylics. In addition, you can use alcohol markers without a problem.

What's not to like about the Strathmore 500 Series Visual Mixed Media Journal

The spiral binding is quite durable, but we wish it was on the top of the book as opposed to the side. With it being on the side, it makes it really hard to draw if you are left-handed. 

We also wish it was available in more sizes. It is nice to have at least the two options, but more would be better.

Finally, we wish the pages were perforated. Without this feature, it makes removing them without damaging the artwork really difficult. While the sketchbook functions as a kind of keepsake, it isn’t practical when it comes to showcasing your work if you can’t remove your images. 

PROS

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    Thick paper
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    Durable spiral binding
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    Nice, decorative cover
  • Compatible with alcohol markers
  • Can withstand erasing and light washing

CONS

  • Pages are not perforated
  • Only available in two sizes
  • Spiral binding is on the side

4. Conda Spiral Sketch Pad Sketchbook 

Conda has been providing art supplies to amateur and professional artists since 1991. They are headquartered in China but have more than 100 distributors worldwide.

Product Highlights

The Conda Spiral Sketch Pad Sketchbook offers 100 sheets of paper, which measure 9”x12”. The paper is acid-free and unbleached, as well as designed to withstand plenty of erasing and hard pressure.

You can use several types of media with this sketchbook, including pen, pencil, charcoal, pastels, and sketching sticks. The bright white color really showcases any colors you intend on using.

This is a side spiral-bound sketchbook that you can lay perfectly flat for ease of use. It also comes with a waterproof cover to help protect your images from any damage.

What's to like about the Conda Spiral Sketch Pad Sketchbook

We like the overall durability of the Conda Spiral Sketch Pad Sketchbook. Both the front and back cover really helps to keep your creations secure and safe, as they are not flimsy at all. In addition, the spiral binding is very strong. 

Likewise, we love that this product comes with an unconditional one-year guarantee. You can return it anytime within 365 days of purchase and receive a full refund with no explanation needed.

What's not to like about the Conda Spiral Sketch Pad Sketchbook

As is the case with some other sketchbooks we’ve reviewed, we do wish the spiral binding was on the top of the sketchbook as opposed to the side. If you are left-handed, this book would be difficult to use.

The paper is also a bit thin. So, if you are using micro-pens, you’ll need to put paper underneath the sheet you are working on, otherwise, the pens will bleed through. Thus, if your intended medium is micro-pens, you might be better served by a different sketchbook.

While this sketchbook is marketed as being compatible with various types of media, we find that it is best for pencil drawing. This is just related to the sheer thinness and durability of the pages overall. It doesn’t function well as an all-in-one type of sketchbook.

PROS

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    Risk-free purchase
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    Great durability
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    Waterproof cover
  • Preserves arts well

CONS

  • Spiral binding on the side
  • Thin pages
  • Some media bleeds through

5. Mr. Otter Studio Watercolor Paper Mixed Media Sketchbooks

These two packs of watercolor paper totals to 60 pages; 30 pages each. This is a great beginner set for any new artist, and all you have to do is add the watercolor or other medium and you are ready to get working!

Product Highlights

The two sketchbooks are made with 140-pound paper for added durability. Each paper is acid-free and made from cellulose wood pulp, allowing you to work with wet materials without worrying about any bleeding through other pages.

This comes as a set, given that three brushes which partner well with the paper are included. In addition, if you are brand new to watercolor, you can visit the manufacturer’s YouTube Channel for tutorials.

What's to like about the Mr. Otter Studio Watercolor Paper Mixed Media Sketchbooks

We really love the quality of the paper. For a beginner set, it is hard to find more durable paper. The thickness is great for working with any wet media.

We also really love that three brushes are included. You really only need the watercolor to get started.

We also like that the paper lays flat while being used. Many other sketchbooks tend to tilt, mostly due to the binding.

What's not to like about the Mr. Otter Studio Watercolor Paper Mixed Media Sketchbooks

We don’t like that there are so few pages within each sketchbook. It is nice to have the two-pack but each book includes just 30 pages. Several other options offer more pages in just one book than the combined total of both of these sketchbooks.

We would also prefer a spiral binding, preferably on the top of the book so that both left- and right-handed artists can use the sketchbook equally. The binding is truly a matter of preference, though. Many artists prefer hard binding as opposed to the spiral binding. 

PROS

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    Durable and thick paper
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    Lays flat
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    Includes tutorials
  • Multiple brush sizes
  • Good-quality brushes

CONS

  • Not spiral bound
  • Too few pages
  • Not ideal for all media

Buyer's Guide

There are plenty of features you should keep in mind when looking for your perfect mixed-media sketchbook. Before you even start your shopping, you should first think about exactly how you plan on using your sketchbook. 

Are you planning on using markers? Perhaps you are more into using watercolors. Maybe you are an artist who uses pencils.

Several of the most important features to help narrow down your choice will depend on your intended use. Above we highlighted five of the best mixed media sketchbooks on the market, but you will still want to know what to look for when narrowing down your choices.

1. Paper Size

Many sketchbooks are at least the A4 size, which is 8.27 x 11.69 inches. This size tends to work best if you are working on creating partial sketches.

If you are looking to create finished pieces, you may need something a bit bigger. If you think about a 9 x 12 inches piece of paper, it isn’t very large.

Think about the overall size of your art and if that size would work for you. You may need to size up to be able to complete the art you’d like to work on in your book.

Of course, with added size means added bulk if you plan on carrying your sketchbook with you most of the time. As such, that is something else to keep in mind when determining the size that will work best for you. If you know you’ll be working in your book only at home, the larger size really shouldn’t be much of an issue.

The size also has to do with whether the orientation on the book is landscape or portrait. This is likely a matter of preference, so you want to think about which you prefer and what will fit your artwork best.

You can always move the page around to suit your needs, but you’ll want to consider where the binding is on the book. This will determine if it is going to get in your way if you want to switch from portrait to landscape or vice versa.

2. Intended Media

You want to think about your preferred medium or media. Art with markers and watercolor will require a different weight of paper than art that uses a pencil. This has a lot to do with the thickness, texture, and weight of the paper.

You don’t need a ton of texture or heavy paper if you just plan on drawing with pencils. If you plan on using watercolor, you will want paper which is thick enough not to bleed through the page.

You’ll also want to have the right texture to absorb the paint and showcase the details in your work. Charcoal is another form of media that works best with more textured paper.

3. Skill

You might not think that your skill level has a lot to do with the sketchbook you choose, but you would be wrong. If you are a beginning artist, you likely do not need a top-of-the-line expensive sketchbook. You will probably be using it just to practice.

However, if you are a more seasoned artist, the most basic sketchbook probably will not cut it for you. You’ll want something with paper that is higher in weight and texture in order to capture the details of your artworks.

As the sketchbook increases in quality, it will also likely increase in cost. This is a consideration as well.

If you are a brand-new artist, you probably do not want to spend a lot of money on your first sketchbook. If you are more experienced, you might consider your sketchbook to be more of an appropriate investment. 

4. Paper Features 

The higher the poundage of the paper you select, the thicker the paper. This means that a 90lb paper is going to be lighter than a 140lb paper.

You also want to keep the color of the paper in mind when making your choice. Some sketchbooks offer bright white paper while others go so far as to offer cream-colored pages. You want to choose a book that offers the colors that flatter your artwork and style.

In addition, cold press paper is intended for use with wetter media. It has a rougher surface than the alternate hot press paper, which is intended to be used with markers and inks. Finally, you want to consider the total number of pages included in your sketchbook.

5. Binding 

The binding can make quite a difference when selecting your sketchbook. You might find that you have a preference, such as spiral-bound and hardbound. 

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when choosing your preferred binding. For example, spiral-bound sketchbooks tend to work better for most artists who draw on the go.

With that said, spiral-bound books can often be more difficult to use when you are drawing at a desk. That is because the spirals can elevate the book. This means it may tilt to one side, making drawing more difficult. 

You also want to consider where the binding is located. This is particularly important if you are left-handed. If that is the case, you may want to consider a binding at the top of the book. If on the side, you will likely find that the binding gets in the way of completing your artwork.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Is the Best Paper for Mixed Media?

There is a difference between paper used for mixed media and that used for watercolor. The best paper for mixed media is that which has a vellum drawing surface which has a bit of tooth to it. This is in contrast to the more textured feel of watercolor paper.

2. Is Mixed Media Paper Good for Markers?

Mixed media paper can be a good option for work with markers. It is best for collage and pastel work along with light paint work.

It can also be a reliable option for work with markers and pens, especially when compared to watercolor paper. However, it is not always the best option for very wet or heavy paintwork.

3. Can You Use Watercolor on Mixed Media?

Mixed media paper is not really intended for work with very wet or heavy paint. With that said, you can still find options that work for your watercolor work.

The other option is watercolor paper, which is designed specifically for wet media. Watercolor paper is cold press, which means it is designed for wetter media and also has a surface that is rougher than a hot press kind of paper. 

4. Can You Paint Acrylic on Mixed Media Paper?

Yes, you can use acrylics on mixed media paper. You just want to make sure you choose paper with enough tooth to hold the paint. Choose paper that is high-quality and acid-free.

5. Can You Print on Mixed Media Paper?

Manufacturers do not tend to recommend printing on their mixed media paper, as that isn’t its intended purpose. Nevertheless, many artists have used mixed media paper for printing without an issue.

Final Verdict

Any of the best mixed media sketchbooks reviewed here would work well for just about any artist, but our top pick is the Deviazi Mixed Media Sketchbook.

We love the top binding since this means any artist can use this book equally as easily. It can also be enjoyed by all skill levels and its paper has just about the perfect thickness.

You also get a total of 100 pages with this sketchbook, which is more than with several alternatives. Finally, being able to easily remove its pages means you can safely keep and store your artwork without worrying about them being damaged.

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