A sketchbook is a book or pad with blank pages for sketching and is frequently used by artists for drawing or painting as a part of their creative process. Artists often use large sketchbooks which include wide spaces of blank paper appropriate for drawing. Lawyers use rather large sketchbooks or notebooks known as legal pads that contain lined paper (often yellow) and are appropriate for use on tables and desks.
Principal types of binding are padding, perfect, spiral, comb, sewn, clasp, disc, and pressure, some of which can be combined. Binding methods can affect whether a notebook can lie flat when open and whether the pages are likely to remain attached. The cover material is usually distinct from the writing surface material, more durable, more decorative, and more firmly attached.
The exhibition of sketchbooks at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University in 2006 suggested that there were two broad categories for classifying sketches.
- Observation: this focuses on the documentation of the external world and includes many such travel and nature studies and sketches recording an artist’s travels.
- Invention: this follows the artists’ digressions and internal journeys as they develop compositional ideas
Types of Sketchbooks
Sketchbooks come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with varied covers, and differing numbers of pages. Sketchbooks began as a way to provide a readily available supply of drawing paper in the convenient form of a book. Finish of the work found in the sketchbook varies widely from artist to artist, with some having very simple drawings and lots of notes, and some having highly worked images. Over time, it might allow others to see the artist’s progress, as their style and skills develop. Many artists personalize their sketchbook by decorating the covers. Sketches are sometimes removed from sketchbooks at a later date.
Sketchbooks made out of high quality paper, differentiated by weight (referring to density of the sheets) and tooth (also called grain), allow for a wide variety of techniques to be used, ranging from pencil drawings, to watercolor, to colored pencil, to pen and ink, and so on. Certain paper characteristics might be more desirable for use with certain mediums. Sketchbook paper comes in a variety of tones, ranging from pure white, to cream, and includes less common varieties, such as gray.
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In displays of contemporary art, as well as historical retrospectives, intimate and ephemeral records are increasingly valued, resulting in the exhibition of sketchbooks alongside “finished” artworks.
Computer technology has allowed for the development of digital sketchbooks.