MAU Art & Design Glossary




A sketchbook contains drawing or watercolor paper bound like the pages of a notebook between front and back covers made of cardboard. The sketchbook is portable and has paper that resists tears, making it ideal for sketching outdoors. The bound paper comes in varieties suitable for every application, from rough pencil sketches to watercolor and pastel drawings.

Sketchbook paper ranges from drawing paper and Kent paper to watercolor paper (Mi-Teintes paper, Arches watercolor paper, Watson paper, and Fabriano watercolor paper), making it a suitable surface for various drawing and painting media. Often containing 15 to 20 sheets, sketchbooks come in a dizzying array of sizes, from the small and highly portable postcard size to the large A2 (420 X 594 mm) and F10 (530 X 455 mm) sizes. While croquis books typically come in standard paper sizes such as A or B (1.5 times larger than the A size), sketchbook sizes often correspond to standard canvas sizes (designated F-numeral, etc.). Sketchbooks are usually bound in one of two ways: block binding or spiral binding. Spiraled wire binding allows the cardboard cover paper and previous pages to be flipped completely to the back of the sketchbook when drawing or painting on a new page, thus eliminating the need for a drawing board. Glue-based block binding, on the other hand, binds each sheet to one side and, without the holes from spiral binding, makes it possible to peel off a clean sheet for new use. Also, while the front side of the bound paper typically faces the same direction as the cover, the pages can be spread open so that both the right and left page (the front and back of consecutive different pages) form a single surface that an artist can use for a panoramic scene.

Various types of sketchbooks are available for purchase at art supply stores.


  • Spiral binding and block bindingSpiral binding and block binding
  • Paper used for sketchbooks (close-ups)
  • A sketchbook in which the front and back of consecutive pages form a single surfaceA sketchbook in which the front and back of consecutive pages form a single surface
  • Margin (close-up)Margin (close-up)