Architecture is a great business no doubt, something that combines various aspects of many professionals, and yes, art is definitely one of them.
Every good architect needs a good sketchbook, and yeah, there are tons to choose from. To help make your life a little easier, right now we are going to take a look at the five best sketchbooks for architects out there.
- Best Sketchbook for Architects: Reviews
- Sketchbook Buyers Guide
- Final Verdict
Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook – Dot-Grid Eco-Friendly Notebook with 1 Pilot Frixion Pen & 1 Microfiber Cloth Included
Best Sketchbook for Architects: Reviews
Code&Quill Origin Premium Hardcover Notebook
If you need a premium notebook, something super heavy-duty that can take a whole lot of punishment and is ideal for hashing out sketches on the go, something that works well for architectural sketches, basic drawings, and for writing alike, this Code&Quill Origin Premium Hardcover Notebook could be a good option for you to look into.
One thing that stands out about this particular sketchbook is how it features a texture on the white cover, something you can actually feel with your fingers.
With a cool red logo on the front cover, as well as gray pages, the overall appearance of this notebook is quite good. There is also the fact that this is a hardcover notebook, something else that helps produce a bit of classiness.
What is of course nice about the Code&Quill Origin Premium Hardcover Notebook, is the fact that it’s perfect for being on the go, and this is true for more reasons than one.
First, due to it being a hardcover, it’s something you can throw in a bag without too much worry, as the inside pages are protected by the hard exterior.
The Code&Quill Origin Premium Hardcover Notebook is also quite tough in general, even the interior pages that are made 100GSM, acid-free, fine grain paper, and thus perfect for drawing, yet also durable enough to withstand daily use.
Moreover, let’s keep in mind that the pages here are 5.5” by 7.7”, which means that the Code&Quill Origin Premium Hardcover Notebook is quite small and portable, perfect for travelling from one location to another.
In terms of page size, although they aren’t huge, they are more than large enough to do some rough and detailed sketch work.
What you might really like about the Code&Quill Origin Premium Hardcover Notebookis how the pages on the right side have lines complete with measurements, and all of the left pages are blank and dotted.
This means that this sketchbook is ideal for all sorts of work, whether for writing lists and paragraphs, for creating sketches. You can also use both sides in tandem, the right for ideas and the left for the actual sketching. In other words, it’s easy to stay organized when using this sketchbook.
One of the biggest benefits of the Code&Quill Origin Premium Hardcover Notebook is the no-close design.
It features a special lay flat design, which means that you can lay it down flat, and it won’t keep closing on you as soon as you let go of it, a problem which most other hardcover note and sketchbooks suffer from.
What does however need to be said here is that the binding of this particular notebook is not great. With heavy use, the binding will eventually come undone, probably sooner rather than later.
- Looks great
- Portable size
- Durable cover and pages
- Cover protects pages well
- Great for heavy work
- Comes with a hybrid blank/dotted and lined page design
- The binding is not very good
Field Notes Store Signature Series Notebook
If you are on the hunt for a really small notebook or sketchbook, something that is perfect for shoving in a pocket and for being on the go, this small size Field Notes Store Signature Series Notebook could be a good option for you to look into.
It’s not huge, but it gets the job done, not to mention that the pages are more than ideal for some quick sketch work.
One of the things that stands out about the Field Notes Store Signature Series Notebook is its very professional appearance. It features a cover with a light texture to it, as well as a neutral cream color that is quite attractive to the eye, yet also not too distracting.
Moreover, the cut corners of this notebook also lend to a more professional vibe, not to mention that those cut corners allow for a higher degree of durability overall.
Going back to the appearance for a minute, it does have quite an old school and traditional vibe to it, which is nice as far as we are concerned.
Something else that stands out about the Field Notes Store Signature Series Notebook is how the paper itself is made out of two woven threads, which allows for a great deal of durability.
These pages are more than durable enough to last for some time, and they’re rather perfect for heavy duty work as well.
The only downside to the Field Notes Store Signature Series Notebook, as far as we can tell, is that the pages are a little on the rough side, which means that any writing utensil with a sharp edge, such as a sharp pen, might not be ideal.
That said, it works great for normal pens and markers, and due to the woven fabric build of the pages, they perform really well in terms of bleeding, which is why this notebook actually works really well for fountain pens.
In terms of the size, the Field Notes Store Signature Series Notebook features 72 pages, each of which are 4.25” by 6.5”.
So, it’s definitely not designed for large scale sketches and for huge products, more so for some quick sketches that you need to do on the go, for some rough drafts and idea work.
The small size of it does make it rather portable, although it is a little bigger than your average small sketchbooks. It comes with a perfect mix of functionality and portability.
Keep in mind that with a single purchase, you get two Field Notes Store Signature Series Notebooks, and moreover, what’s nice is that you can choose from ruled paper or plain paper, thus making this notebook ideal for sketching and writing alike.
- Very portable
- Durable pages
- Great for fountain pens
- Good for rough sketching on the go
- Very sleek, traditional, and professional appearance
- Good for heavy duty work
- Pages are a bit rough and fibrous
Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook
When it comes to modern notebooks that integrate technology into the mix, so you can easily upload all of your work to the cloud and all of your favorite applications.
The Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook is something awesome to look into, not to mention that the pages are reusable, making this a super eco-friendly option to go with.
In terms of size, the Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook is available in two sizes, the Executive that comes in at 6″ x 8. 8″, and the Letter which comes in at 8.5″ x 11″.
We think that this is great, because you can choose the smaller one for when you are on the go and you need something very portable for smaller sketches, notes, and more, or you can choose the larger size for larger and more detailed sketch work.
Even though the larger option is the size of a normal piece of paper, it’s still just a sketchbook, so it’s quite lightweight and more than portable enough to be used on the go.
Let’s keep in mind that the Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook comes with a total of 36 pages, each of which feature a dotted grid, with dotted grids of course being great for architectural sketch work and all other types of sketching too, not to mention that it can just as easily be used for writing too.
You might think that 36 pages is not very much, but the fact here is that the pages are reusable.
Now, the really cool part about this sketchbook is of course that you can easily erase all of your work without trouble. The trick here is that you do have to use specialized Frixion writing utensils, as these are designed exactly for this purpose, whether pens, markers, or highlighters.
These are specially designed so that the ink bonds with these pages in 15 seconds (it needs to dry).
However, the awesome part is that using the included microfiber cloth, and just a few drops of water, everything will erase off the pages with a couple of wipes.
Now, this is awesome in terms of reusability, because it means never having to buy another sketchbook again.
36 pages is a whole lot when each one can be used endlessly. Moreover, this is also great for the environment too.
The other neat aspect of the Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook is that it comes with a free Rocketbook App, which allows you to scan all of your work into the app, and it will then transfer your work to the other apps that you already use. Therefore, you can make sketches, upload them, and then erase them after.
On a side note, you do want to take good care of this Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook, as it is not the most durable item out there, and moreover, if you get the pages wet by accident, even just a bit damp, chances are that your work will be ruined.
- Reusable pages
- Easy erasing
- Dotted grid for sketches
- Rocketbook app for convenience
- Two sizes available
- Looks nice
- Work may be erased if pages get damp
- Only works with Frixion writing utensils
Moleskine Hardcover Sketchbook
If you are looking for a really durable sketchbook with the ability to also be super portable, the Moleskine Hardcover Sketchbook is a great option to keep in mind, and a lot of this has to do not only with the high-quality design of it, but also thanks to the fact that it comes in many different sizes too.
In terms of the size, you have a few choices to consider, which we think is great. There is a large size that comes in at 5″ x 8-1/4″ with 104 pages. There is a medium size that comes in at 4.5″ x 7″ with 88 pages.
There is also a pocket size that comes in at 3-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ with a total of 80 pages. You also have the option to go with something much larger, the A3 size that comes in at 16-1/2″ x 12″ with 96 pages, as well as the A4 that comes in at 12″ x 8-1/2″, also with 96 pages.
We just love the fact that there is so much selection in terms of size.
If you need something super small and portable for being on the go and for taking from one jobsite to another, you have this option, and if you need something much larger for stationary use and for those large and detailed sketches, you have that option available too, as well as many sizes in between. This kind of selection allows for a great deal of versatility.
Next, we do also like the design of the Moleskine Hardcover Sketchbook. It’s neutral cream-colored pages are easy to look at, and drawing on them is quite clear, not to mention that it comes with a beautiful bright red cover, complete with an elastic closure and elastic page marker.
The cover of this sketchbook, as well as the binding, both have a durable finish that allows it to stay in one piece for quite some time. The cover features a leather-like material and feel that not only looks great, but will protect the interior as well.
It can take a fair bit of abuse no problem, not to mention that it is rather ideal for heavy-duty sketch work too. It’s not something that is going to wear down anytime soon.
What you may also like about the Moleskine Hardcover Sketchbook is that the pages are plain, so you can do whatever you want with it.
Moreover, the pages are quite thick as they are made out of ivory paper, which is nice because ink does not bleed through them easily, plus they are even ideal for fountain pen use as well.
The only downside here is that once you have drawn or written something in this sketchbook, it is more or less impossible to erase.
- Many sizes available
- Very sleek appearance
- High level of durability
- Great binding
- Pages won’t bleed
- Great for heavy-duty work
- Erasing work is nearly impossible
Art Alternatives Giant Hardcover Sketchbook
What we have right here is by far the largest, thickest, and heaviest sketchbook on the list today.
The Art Alternatives Giant Hardcover Sketchbook is a true beast with hundreds of plain pages ready for you to draw, write, scrapbook, and more. It’s a great option to go with if you need something huge to keep all of your work in one place.
The Art Alternatives Giant Hardcover Sketchbook comes with a total of 600 pages, each of which are 12.5” by 10.75”. As you can see, this is indeed a true monster of a sketchbook, something absolutely huge that is ideal for massive collections of all sorts of sketches, drawings, writing, scrapbooking, and more.
We would say that it is ideal for large projects that are going to require many sketches.
Now, at this size, the Art Alternatives Giant Hardcover Sketchbook is of course not super portable. Not only is it large, but really heavy too, somewhere around seven pounds in fact. Sure, you can still fit it in a bag and carry it around with you, but it is heavy nonetheless.
Although the Art Alternatives Giant Hardcover Sketchbook may not look like anything super special, it does have a nice, black hard cover. It looks nice enough, not to mention that the hardcover design of it keeps all of the pages on the inside in good condition.
This sketchbook can definitely withstand a good bit of wear and tear, as it should, because it is clearly designed for long term use.
In terms of the pages themselves, they feature a bright white color, which should allow for high visibility and easy sketching, not to mention that the pages are 75lb. (110 gsm) acid-free, which makes them perfect for all sorts of writing utensils, for heavy-duty sketch work, and there shouldn’t be any bleeding either.
- Great for huge projects
- Can accommodate many projects at once
- Very durable
- Looks nice enough
- Ideal for long term work
- Pages won’t bleed
- Not very portable
- Very heavy
Sketchbook Buyers Guide
Sketchbooks, as you have realized by now, are very diverse in nature. There are all kinds of sizes, styles, page materials, and so much more to choose from, that it can really make your head spin.
To help make your life a bit easier when choosing the best architectural sketchbook for you, we have compiled a list of the most important features and factors to keep an eye on.
Let’s talk about the main purchasing considerations you need to keep in mind before buying any sketchbook for architectural work.
1. Number of Pages
One of the things that you do want to look out for when buying a sketchbook is how many pages it has.
Of course, if you need a sketchbook for a large project, for some sort of herculean work of architecture that is going to take hundreds of sketches to get to the final product, then you do want to go for something that has many pages.
However, if you just need something for a few sketches, then consider going for something with a fairly low number of pages.
Something to keep in mind is that page thickness does play a role here. Two sketchbooks can be of equal size and weight, but if one has much thinner pages, it will also have more of them.
Of course, the thickness of the pages is not just important in relation to how many pages a sketchbook can or does contain, but it’s also important in terms of what the paper itself is good for, something that we are about to discuss in the section below.
That aside, always consider how large the project at hand is, and if you prefer having separate books for individual projects or you want to house several projects in the same book.
2. Type of Paper
Perhaps one of the most important considerations to make here is what sort of paper the pages are made out of.
What kind of paper is used will influence how thick the pages are, how durable they are, how easy it is to erase mistakes, how well the pages perform in terms of bleeding, and more.
Let’s go through a quick list of the main types of paper that you might come across in sketchbooks.
- One popular type of paper used in sketchbooks is cartridge paper, which is usually considered very high-quality. This is a versatile type of paper because they come in various thicknesses, they can differ by weight, and you can find ones that are smooth or mildly textured. This kind of paper is best used with pen or pencil. Keep in mind that although these pages tend to be quite thick, they are generally best used for dry media.
- You then have your pulp paper pages, which as you can tell, are made out of normal wood pulp. These tend to be ideal for most basic purposes and they excel with mostly all kinds of media, but dry media like pens and pencil are best. Although this type of paper is nothing overly special, and while it is not too thick either, it does come in at a low price, therefore making it cost-effective and ideal for beginners.
- The other main option you have to go with is watercolor or cotton paper. This type of paper is made by mixing water with fibers, usually cotton fibers, to make pages, and are then usually coated with a gelatin treatment. For the highest quality paper that performs the best with watercolor, the higher the cotton content the better, and yes, this content can be up to 100%. Moreover, the more cotton content the paper has, the more durable it’s going to be. Low grade watercolor paper is actually also idea for pencil work.
On a side note, something you should always look for are pages that are labelled as being acid-free. Acid free paper lasts a lot longer, it allows your drawings and sketches to last longer, and it suffers from minimal fading over time.
3. Thickness of the Paper/Pages
The next important factor to keep an eye on when purchasing a sketchbook is how thick or heavy the pages are, which yes, can be directly related to what the pages are made of, as cotton pages are thick and heavy. Paper weight is measured in gsm (grams per square meter).
A page that is 50gsm is going to me much lighter, thinner, and flimsier than a 300gsm piece of paper.
What is important to note here is that the thinner and lighter pages are best used for dry media such as pen and pencil, as they are receptive to this kind of media.
However, when it comes to wet media such as watercolor, and even for thick markers, you do want to go with something a bit thicker, because that paper needs to be able to absorb the wet media without allowing any kind of ink or color to bleed through to the next pages.
Thick paper is also unlikely to warp when wet media is used.
4. Texture of the Paper/Pages
Something else to keep an eye out for is what kind of texture the pages in your sketchbook have. Pages can be very smooth, mildly textured, or even very rough, and yes, once again, this can be related to what the paper is made out of.
When it comes to architectural sketches and drawings, you need to be able to draw very small, fine, and precise lines, often with small lettering and numbers present, or in other words, measurements.
Therefore, the best option to go with in terms of an architectural sketchbook is one with very smooth paper. The smoother the paper, the better it will function for precise detail work.
Textured paper is best used for thinks like watercolor, markers, and even things like charcoal. The texture can help wet media stay in place so that paint and markers don’t bleed, and it can add some artistic value to the mix too.
However, for architecture related purposes, you want something smooth that allows for easy use of dry media and a whole lot of fine detail work.
5. The Overall Size
Another thing to keep in mind when selecting the right sketchbook for your needs is the size of it.
Of course, something to consider is if you are going to be using it in a stationary manner, such as at home or in the office, or if you need something more portable for when you are on the go.
For hardcover books, some of the most common sizes include 4”x6”, 5”x7”, 7”x10”, 8.5”x11”, 9”x12”, and 11”x14”, and for spiral bound and soft cover books, some common sizes include 14”x17”, 18”x24”, and 24”x36”.
The fact of the matter is that you can find tiny pocket size sketchbooks and absolutely massive ones for full-scale work too. Here, you also need to consider how large and detailed your drawings need to be.
When it comes to architectural sketches, you do probably want something fairly large, because this kind of sketching often requires a lot of fine and precise detail work that you can only achieve when you really zoom in, so to speak.
6. The Page Orientation
Although this is not a huge consideration in the grand scheme of things, the page orientation is still something that you may want to consider.
You can find sketchbooks that feature a portrait orientation, ones with a landscape orientation, as well as ones that are perfectly square too. When it comes down to it, this is all a matter of personal preference.
7. Paperback vs Hardcover
Besides the pages themselves, another really important consideration to keep in mind when selecting the right sketchbook for your needs is what the cover is like, which really comes down to a softcover (AKA paperback) or hardcover.
Now, paperback is fine in terms of portability and for basic work, but when it comes down to it, hardcover is always better, and this is true for more reasons than one.
First off, quite simply, a hard cover on a sketchbook allows for much greater durability of the cover itself, because it won’t rip as easily as a soft cover.
On that same note, that hard cover will also help protect the interior of the sketchbook, the actual pages and your work. It can help protect those interior pages from water damage and physical damage.
There is also the fact that a hardcover sketchbook is much easier to work with when you are on the go, because you automatically have backing built into to the book, a hard surface that you can press against, which means that standing up and sketching is made easy.
Moreover, with the paperback variety, you might find that the rear and front covers slide around, thus reducing the overall accuracy of your sketches.
8. The Binding
Yet another important factor to consider here is what sort of binding the book features. The binding is very important for a few reasons. For one, the type of binding is directly related to the overall durability of the sketchbook, because poor binding can result in pages coming loose and falling out.
Next, the type of binding in question will also influence how easy the sketchbook is to lay down flat, thus allowing for easy drawing. There are three main types of bindings for you to consider here.
- The first type of binding that you can go with is known as wire-bound or spiral-bound, which consists of wire loops that hold the pages together, and these are generally found on paperbacks, but may also be found on hardcover books. This type of binding is good because it allows you to easily flip the pages over, hold it in one hand, and even to fold the book in half. The downside is that laying the book down flat is not really possible due to those large wire rings, plus you really cannot draw across the gutter to create one large sketch out of two pages. There is also the fact that those wire loops will get in the way when it comes time to scan or photocopy your sketches.
- The second type of binding to consider is the sewn or perfect bound variety. This is when clumps of pages are sewn together. These are perfectly fine to use, pretty average. They tend to be durable enough to last for some time. The issue with these is that some of them can open flat while others cannot, so for the best functionality, look for one that can open flat.
- The third type you can choose to go with is the glue bind variety. These are not really ideal for much. They are OK for short term use, but they don’t really have any sort of binding. Pages will eventually fall out, probably sooner rather than later.
Of course, the price of the sketchbook in question is something that you may want to keep an eye on.
Now, with that said, while being cost-effective and saving money is great, if you need a really good sketchbook for professional and high-quality work, it’s best not to cheap out.
This really is the kind of thing where you get what you pay for, so it is worth spending a little extra on a quality sketchbook that is easy to use, allows for precision work, as is durable too.
11. Page Types & Color
Something else to consider is what the pages themselves have on them. What you go with here will depend on your needs.
You can find sketchbooks with lines, with lines and measurements, with lined grids, with dotted grids, and even ones that are totally blank too.
Also, pay attention to the color of the paper. White is usually best for making drawings with striking colors and for when you need your work to really stand out. You can also find ones with cream colored paper, which is great for making artwork look warmer.
10. Extra Features
There are also some extras that you may find with some sketchbooks, like elastic loops to keep everything together or to mark pages.
As you can see from our reviews, there are also some sketchbooks that use special tech to allow you to erase everything on the page with some cloth, and ones that come with applications for easy cloud uploading.
The bottom line here is that there are so many sketchbooks to go with, all of which are ideal for a certain type of work, that making a final recommendation is not easy.
At the end of the day, the best product for you is the one that suits your needs and preferences the most.