Review: Kunst & Papier Sketchbook (160gsm, 35% cotton)

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Kunst & Papier is a company based in Germany that makes sketchbooks and paper products.

Their watercolour sketchbooks are available in these sizes:

  • 30 x 24 cm / 11.8 x 9.4″ landscape, 128 pages
  • 24 x 20.6 cm / 9.4 x 8.1″ landscape, 128 pages
  • 17 x 24 cm / 6.7 x 9.4″, 128 pages
  • 17 x 15.6 cm / 6.7 x 6.1″ landscape, 96 pages
  • 17 x 11.5 cm / 6.7 x 4.5″ landscape, 96 pages


The paper used for these watercolour sketchbooks is 160gsm with 35% cotton content.


This 128-page sketchbook has the more pages than any other sketchbooks I’ve used. Just for comparison purposes, watercolour sketchbooks from Moleskine and Hahnemuhle each has 60-pages. Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook has 128-pages.

With so many pages, it can take a long time to fill. People who sketch a lot and frequently should appreciate the number of pages.


The sketchbook is well made.

The hardcover is fabric and available in either black or dark blue.

The sketchbook can open flat easily, even for the first page. Binding is good. I used this sketchbook from Dec 2016 to Oct 2018 and the binding still held up really well.


If you use too much water, the water may seep through the holes where the stitching are. The binding is tight so it’s not really an issue.


I’m not sure about the sizing of the paper but it seem to handle watercolour well, more specifically the colours appear vibrant.


Trying to use some wet on wet techniques will give you a clue to how good the sizing is.

When I painted horizontal strokes on the wet surface with the sketchbook at an angle, the strokes don’t blend completely. This means it can be challenging to create smooth colour blends. But it is possible to create soft colour blends with the right techniques (see left).


The coldpress texture is on the smoother side but you can still see the obvious coldpress texture. This smoother surface is great for drawing with ink. Lines will appear solid without rough edges.


160gsm paper is thinner than the more common 200gsm thin watercolour paper. This thinner paper is not great for heavy washes where lots of water is used. Once the paper is soaked with water, I feel like it can’t handle a second layer. I won’t use more than 2 layers on this paper.

And because the paper is thin, it will buckle easily. But the same thin paper can be pressed flat again easily.

When you paint with the sketchbook flat, the buckled pages may cause paint and water to pool at certain areas. If you use this sketchbook outdoors, then it’s less of a problem because the sketchbook will be tilted at an angle most of the time.

Either way, I do recommend using this sketchbook at an inclined angle.


If you use too much ink, especially together with watercolour, the ink may bleed through the paper.

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You can get some nice granulation effects on this coldpress texture with the right paint.


Coldpress still has texture so it’s not great for colouring with coloured pencils. It’s fine for drawing lines, either with graphite pencil or coloured pencils.


This sketchbook is great for quick pen and ink sketches where you just paint and leave the wash alone. Sometimes you can add an extra layer for glazing.


Overall, I enjoy using this sketchbook but I do find myself always mindful about how much water I use because I can’t use too much water, and that suits me just fine because my style is more stylised with more hard edges than soft. For those who really want to paint with all possible watercolour techniques, more specifically use a lot of wet on wet techniques, they should go with 100% cotton watercolour sketchbooks which usually have thicker 300gsm paper.

Availability

Here in Singapore, Kunst & Papier sketchbooks are sold by Shop Oryx. The 24 x 20.6cm sketchbook shown above is priced at SGD 26 which I think is really worth the money. An A5 sized Moleskine watercolour sketchbook with just 60 pages is SGD 20.

If you need another opinion on this sketchbook, check out Liz Steel’s review at
https://www.lizsteel.com/review-kunst-papier-watercolour-book/

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