Making the perfect Sketch Set Part 1

I am in the quest of building up my perfect sketchbook set. I just love the Idea of having a set ready for getting out and about with me! I see myself drawing in the forest or on a street bench or on lunch breaks at work. And since I am a true perfectionist, I have a feeling that I will end up with several sketchbook sets and that they will constantly change!

Archival and Lightfast issues
People have been questioning why I feel that this is of importance for sketchbook use. A sketchbook is supposed to be for myself only, to explore concepts and such, and since they are in a book form, it won’t be exposed to that much light. Light is a factor that can make some colors fade. In a sketchbook you shouldn’t need to worry about that, though.

But even if most of my sketchbook pages are just doodles it happens from time to time that the drawings turn out really good. For example, I did a really nice drawing of my doughter’s plush toy and she wanted to hang it on her wall.

So… I want to use pencils that will last a considerable amount of time in my home, fixed and framed behind float glass. Maybe if I do a quick portrait at work (I actually use my sketchbook at lunch breaks and such) my colleagues might want to keep it and then it’s also great if it won’t fade in a day, you know. This means that I will probably need to test some of the pencils for their lightfast capabilities.

This does of course mean that I need to use Archival papers too, like acid free and 100% cotton.

The costs

This is a tricky question because I don’t want to use any materials that just isn’t a pleasure to use and I want to have the opportunity to turn my sketchings into more serious drawings. At the same time a sketchbook would lose it’s purpose if it becomes too expensive.

The pencils

I just must have pencils in my sketchbooks. The pencils need to be soft so that they work with the sketchbook paper but at the same time hold their point quite well so that I can make details. They need to work with standard sharpeners so the barrels can’t be to thick. Also, I don’t want them to smudge to much, because that will be too messy for sketchbook use. My Caran D’ache Luminance pencils are actually perfect in many aspects but I would like to find a less expensive pencil that performs nicely enough.

In my smaller sets I won’t be able to take my Zest-it blender with me. And overall it would be nice to be able to keep that for studio use. I have been thinking of blending with some kind of alcohol. Water is also an option since you can do fast sketches with watercolor pencils. Well, as you might hear, the hunt has just begone! 😛

The sketchbook

So, on to that pretty tricky part. There are so many sketchbooks out there but there are not that many sketchbooks that includes the papers that I like. The paper need to be able to take wet media, have enough tooth but still be quite smooth. It needs to be about 200-300 gsm. Too thin and it will buckle to much and too thick and it won’t fit that many papers. There are some interesting journals out there with watercolor paper and good drawing paper but another option is to make my own sketchbooks. This is more time consuming though and time is money also…