New Sketchbooks from China!

Disclaimer: I primarily paint in watercolor and do not consider myself a professional sketcher. In fact, I rarely sketch- I really would not have anything to compare this sketchbook with.

Hey Readers! I got two of the same sketchbooks a couple of weeks ago from Walmart (in China) and I wanted to review them since I assume Walmarts are fairly plentiful in China. They’re called “Popular Sketch Book”. These are what they looked like before use (love the sketch on the cover!):


The sketch, or illustration, on the cover is repeated on the first page of the sketchbook (and also on the back cover)- I watercolored it. The first page feels like a plastic-y Yupo-type material, but after I painted it the colors felt chalky.

IMG_4423.JPGThe sketchbooks didn’t say they were marketed for watercolor, but I grabbed them anyways (hey, if they aren’t good for watercolor, at least they’d be just fine for sketching). The paper is an ivory (compared below to the back of the front cover, which is a bright white). Sorry about the bad lighting, which makes the paper look tan:

IMG_4418 (1).JPG

The pages are NOT micro-perforated. The sketchbook is spiral-bound, which I like. The sketchbook itself seems very sturdy; the covers are made of a thick-ish cardboard-type of material (they feel beautiful and luxurious and thick to hold).

And to the paper itself… fairly thick pages (hard to tell in the picture). The texture feels like Strathmore’s Mixed Media paper (kind of like a slightly smooth hot-press). There’s at least 40 sheets in there, and it was 30 yuan Chinese money, $5 in American money. For 40 sheets+ (80+ usable surfaces), that’s an amazing deal… so I snagged it, of course. I did a fairly wet wash and it buckled quite a bit (and the wash wasn’t even that wet for watercolor; I merely wet the paper), as you can see in the second picture.

IMG_4420 (1).JPG


The colors did dull down quite a bit, which is to be expected for sketchbook paper not marketed for watercolor(I did have to edit the picture for privacy reasons), and I did have some trouble with flow:

treespopular sketchbook.jpg

The wet wash also seeped through to the other side a bit, as you can see from the blue flecks:


So pros of the paper:

  • Beautiful texture (almost feels handmade, in fact- I can definitely see myself using this for sketching and light washes)
  • Extremely inexpensive
  • A lot of paper for money


Okay. You could definitely think of some cons (pigment leaks through paper, colors dull, etc.) if you wanted to use this for watercolor, but as a sketchbook marketed for sketching, I don’t think you could really go wrong using this for practice sketches.

Final say:

I definitely would recommend this! It’s very affordable and chances are it’d be in your local [China] Walmart (I have not seen this in USA Walmarts, but I haven’t actively gone looking for it, so I suppose it’s worth a look). So… the next time you go to Walmart, look around in the stationary section! Thanks for dropping by!

If you have any more review ideas, please drop a comment saying what you’d like me to review on my upcoming posts page!

Have you used this “Popular Sketch Book?” How did you like it? What watercolor or even regular sketching sketchbooks would you recommend to beginners and professionals alike?


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