A question about texture


 Today I purchased a Moleskine 80 page sketchbook, I had been planning to get the 192 plain page one but they were sold out and I was too enthusiastic for my own good. Anyways, the paper in the sketchbook is of a strange waxy kind that the ink from my pen refuses to bond with and smudges easily – pencil, of course – works like a dream. Perhaps I will stick to pencil.

My question was, if I order myself a plain paper 192 pocket notebook online when it arrives will the paper be equally waxy and are the pages so thin that my pen strokes may be visible from the other side?

Many Thanks

James P

P.S. I know your just a fansite type thing and not customer services but I figured you might be able to offer me a more honest response…

[Image: Russ Stutler]

13 thoughts on “A question about texture

  1. The answer to your question lies in Russ Stutler’s photo of a watercolor kit and sketchbook. Your purchase is better suited to watercolor because the thick paper, while heavily sized, buckles less than thinner versions. So break out those old watercolors, draw an outline and maybe a few tonal strokes with that pencil (or even a fountain pen), then wet the surface and apply color. Good luck.

  2. I’m an artist and have kept a sketchbook on moleskine sketchbook paper for the last 3 years. I haven’t encountered the problem you describe, James, though there is always the smear factor with gel pens on any paper (not that keeps me from making that my primary writing and drawing tool). Maybe there’s a strange alchemy between the pen you chose and the paper?

    I regularly sketch in gel and ballpoint pen, as well as pencil, colored pencil, several brands/formulations of marker, white out, acrylic, and, sometimes even collage.

    Known issues: I have noticed that my Pitt Artist Markers develop a sort of faded quality as soon as they dry. If you look very closely, there’s a sort of fuzzy diffusion at the edges of the marks, but it’s not enough to distort my drawings. Other markers may have the same issue, but their lines are too slender for me to notice this feathering without taking magnification to the page. Also, if you’re going to use fixative, it takes a combination of not closing the sketchbook too soon and not closing it too late to preserve the image, prevent bleeding or sticking to the facing page, and keep the page from curling. If you paint the page black with acrylics and then write in silver gel pen, the silver eventually wears off – gluing a piece of black paper to the page works far better.

    (I’m not a big fan of watercolors, in general, so I haven’t used them much — I would heartily disagree with the previous post’s suggestion that you have to use wc to get use from the sketchbook paper.)

    As for the Moleskine notebook paper, I did not like it for sketching. Too thin and semi-transparent. Too fragile. Couldn’t take markers, heavier pen application, or any medium with more moisture than pencil, but it was whimpy when it came to multiple erasures.

    I hope you find a combination of paper/medium that works for you. If it’s not a Moleskine, take a look at the “Fabriano Artist’s Journal.” It’s cold press paper in a simple tag board binding. I found the texture distracting and the binding a bit stubborn, but I’ve heard other artists sing its praises.

  3. I’m having the ‘develop a sort of faded quality’ problem with ‘fuzzy diffusion at the edges of the marks’. I’ve gone ahead and ordered a plain paper one now so i’ll have one of each to play with soon. Will let you know my conclusions…

  4. I draw mainly in graphite and in silverpoint. I use a water-based special ground for silverpoint. I sometimes get buckling with the sketchbook, but its rare since I live in a very dry climate (Colorado, only crawl above 30% humdity if it is snowing or raining.)

    I have noticed in the past year I have to do 2 coats of ground whereas before it only required one coat. Maybe they changed their sizing method/material? That’s about the only explanation I have since they visiually look the same (to the naked eye.)

    I have done some watercolor in the sketchbooks but not much. Its always been mainly graphite and indicating color with a small travel watercolor kit. As long as I lean toward drybrush the paper is fine.

  5. I have had the same problems. My experience has been that once you lay down a watercolor wash on the page, you can then paint over it with no problem. But until you get somecolor down, it beads up terribly.

  6. I use both the 80 and the 192 page books. If you write or draw in ink in the 192 page book you will find that the ink bleeds a little and that your strokes will be quite visible from the other side.

  7. I find sometimes with the sketchbook, even after I lay down a wash it will still bead up terribly. Only after you literally scrub the page with water will it accept paint.

    As for the plain notebook, I attempted to paint with watercolors in it once… and only once as it bled through terribly and even wet the next page.

    I find the newer the sketchbook the more sizing the paper will have. Sad… I’ve lingered over the Fabriano Artists Journal but feel loyal to the Moleskine even though I swear everytime that I attempt to paint in it it will be the last.

  8. I do a lot of ink and watercolor, and also find that the sketchbook paper won’t take watercolor unless it is first “scrubbed” with water. It is also resistive to fountain pen ink and so I can imagine would be so with other kinds of pens.

    So, I am now rebinding my moleskines with 90 lb watercolor paper. It’s a bit of a project, but I end up with the book I want. My current such creation started out as a pocket-sized 2005 daily journal, so it’s small, but about one inch thick.


  9. Thought I should let you know – my plain paper pad arrived today and my pen writes on it fine, it completely lacks the wierd finish of the sketch pad. My pen doesn’t bleed through but it can be seen on the other side – that said, if I put a small square of black card behind the page that can be seen too. It’s certainly fine for my needs and the pages are nowhere near as thin as my imagination was leading me to believe.

  10. i’m using a sketchbook and a notebook, both in pocket size for fountain pen ink, pencil, pencil crayon and watercolour. the sketchbook was a gift to my love on Valentines and i am adding sketches each week. however the notebook i use for everything from journal writings to watercolour treatments to collage. certainly the notebook paper is lighter and what has been noted by others is true. my additional thought is that, strangely {?}, i have come to love the way my pencil or fountain pen writing on one side of a page may show through to the next when that side has paint applied or even pencil crayon. it has its own signature and because the play on the pages is not intended as finished work i am rather love with the magic and mystical feel that is created. if anything this adds to my love of the M rather than detracts from it. the little M that could. ::thrive!, O

  11. I am going to do another one of these rebindings in a few weeks – I’ll take some pictures of the process and post the instructions.

    It’s basically a coptic-bound book block glued into the moleskine cover. It ends up looking very much like it started out – except with my preferred paper. You can see some of the sketches in it at http://trumpetvine.com/crawl/01/


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