The Essential Sketchpad for Beginning Artists

An Artist's Tool You Can't Do Without as It becomes part of you!

Rayce Bird, Brea Joseph, Sue Lee -- Photo by: Nicole Wilder/Syfy/NBCU Photo Bank
Sketch Pad Credit SYFY. Getty Images

The sketchpad is an essential item in any artist’s life. Whether you’re just getting started drawing, or drawing has been a long-time hobby, a sketchpad or sketchbook are great tools. You can use your sketchbook for virtually anything you want. 

Many modern artists draw thumbnail-sized sketches in a sketchpad to help them visualize tones and patterns before getting out their paints and brushes. A sketchpad can also serve as an artistic diary.

The sketches you put in it are time-stamps of the chronology of your life and art projects.

AA Milne's beloved bear Winnie the Pooh was created as a rough sketch in 1928 and sold recently in London for $487,000. The artist dated his work and so should you in your sketchbook. Picasso drew his sketches on napkins in restaurants which were sold for enormous profits during his lifetime.

Not a New Thing

Sketchpads have served artists for a long time. They’re perfect for capturing snapshots of figures and landscapes that can later be fleshed out in a finished painting or drawing. Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt created many sketches and drawings during their lifetimes. Sketchpads were not available in those days

In the professional art world, sketchpads are used for developing project ideas and keeping track of the date and time the artist worked on the project.

Different Sketchpads, Different Mediums

One of the simplest and easiest accessed types of sketch is a pencil sketch. Pencils and sketchpads go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Your sketchbook can also be used with other mediums – charcoal, pastels, paint, crayons, pastels and markers. There are sketchpads specifically designed for these various mediums.

When choosing a sketchpad, make sure you have your medium in mind.

Choosing Your New Sketchpad

When deciding which sketchpad you want, consider what kind of drawings you like to do. If you think you’ll mostly be sketching from the comfort of home or office, the design of the sketchbook won’t matter as much. If you plan to go out in nature to sketch, however, you might want something sturdier – most quality sketchpads have sturdy covers for support.

Size of sketchpad also affects portability, so keep the dimensions in mind when selecting a sketch pad. Just because an 11x14 inch sketchpad has an attractive cover or really nice paper doesn’t necessarily make it the right sketchpad for you. If you’re planning to sketch in it when commuting to and from work on the subway, it will be a hindrance.

Budget is also important. If you’re new to the world of sketching, an expensive sketchpad can be tempting, but make sure you won’t be scared to mark it up because it’s too expensive. It’s best to start with something simple, nice but not pricey, and portable.

Let It Be

Just remember that the word sketch is in the name “sketchpad.” Artists do not use sketchpads for finished drawings; they’re for rough ideas and experimenting with new mediums.


One of the biggest pitfalls of using a sketchpad is also using an eraser. To draw well and maintain higher and higher standards DON"T erase any of your lines. If it looks messy and if you've overworked your lines, turn the page and start afresh. The idea of having a sketchpad is to use a new page every day, put a date on it to keep them all in chronological order--and to assess your drawing abilities over specific areas of time. See how you progress month-by-month or year-by-year.

If you don’t like something you sketch, don’t scribble it out or tear it out; keep it around so that you have something with which to measure your artistic growth. This is important!

Sketches are supposed to be rough, fast, and incomplete. Your sketchbook is your playground so play around with your pencil lines and have fun with it!