There are two main reasons you would be looking to combine pencil and ink on the same page. The first is planning – using pencil in a sketchbook before you commit to ink allows you to correct mistakes. The second is stylistic, in the right hands a combination of ink and pencil strokes can create a striking artwork – for instance pencil and alcohol markers can work nicely together.
Not all sketchbooks are right for this combination of dry and wet media. Go straight to our top five. Or have a look at our best art supplies for kids if you are thinking about supporting a younger mind.
Can you use ink in a Sketchbook?
Choosing the best sketchbook for pencil and ink comes down to the paper within. We’re thinking specifically about the type of free flowing ink you get from a fountain pen here.
Your main consideration is the thickness of paper. The thicker the paper the more it will appropriately absorb your wet ink and not lead to smudges. If you are serious about using ink, you will want to get into the mindset of single sided pages. As absorbant as the paper is, if you are being expressive it is likely to show through to the other side.
The other key consideration is texture. A rougher paper will absorb the ink quicker, leading to faster drying times and less concern about smudging lines.
What kind of paper is best for pencil?
If you are starting out as an artist, you will want to think about the key art material you need to begin (hint, pencils and a sketchbook make the list). Most paper types will take pencil. Your main consideration here is stylistic. You will get smoother lines on a smoother paper, but as stated above, this could lead to smudging issues with your ink. We also discuss some key considerations when you are sketching with colored pencils.
What makes a good sketchbook for Pencil and Ink?
The best sketchbook for both pencil and ink will be a personal choice. Taking the above information in mind, experiment with different paper weights and textures until you find the right combination. We list the best starting points below.
Best Sketchbooks for Pencil and Ink
A list of our top 5 (in no particular order) sketchbooks for pencil and ink.
- Bellofy Sketchbook Mixed Media
- Ohuhu Marker Pads Art Sketchbook
- Canson XL Series Mix Media Paper Pad
- Strathmore 455-8 Strath Sketch S 400
- Lemome Sketchbook with Premium Thick Paper
Bellofy Sketchbook Mixed Media
The clue is in the title with the Bellofy Sketchbook Mixed Media – it’s made for mixed media so lends itself well fo both Pencil and Ink. The spiral binding is great if you want clean access to a new page each time, but adds bulk if you were looking for the type of notebook you could take anywhere and whip out at a moment’s notice.
It features a smooth paper, listed as 160g. Nice and thick for those inks, but a little slower to dry due to that smoothness. The sketchbook listed comes with 100 pages. Each page is perforated so you can detach your work easily. However, this makes it not the best choice if you are looking to collect your pencil and ink artwork in a single sketchbook.
Ohuhu Marker Pads Art Sketchbook
Ohuhu Markers get a write up in our best copic dupes article, so you can imagine a sketchbook designed by the people who make alcohol markers can deal with wet media. The paper in the Ohuhu Marker Pads Art Sketchbook weighs in at 200GSM, there’s a nice thickness to the paper in these books. It’s smooth paper, so will keep nice neat lines so long as you can avoid smudging as you go (maybe not best for beginners)
The pages are easy to tear, but as a well build sketchbook this allows you the best of both worlds – shareable art and a complete book when it suits you. These come in both square and rectangular formats. That smooth paper will also allow for more predictable pencil marks.
Canson XL Series Mix Media Paper Pad
Canson is a well regarded brand when it comes to sketchpads – and here again the clue is in the title: Canson XL Series Mix Media Paper Pad. It’s built to handle both wet (ink) and dry (pencil). Again, we’ve got smooth paper in this pad. This makes for smoother lines and easier erased pencil marks – but at the cost of slightly slower drying time and smudge risks.
The paper is 160gsm, so thick enough for your inks. The spiral binding allows for you to get full access to each sheaf of paper – but doesn’t end up looking like a cool sketchbook when you are done. So it’s great for practice, but you wouldn’t really want to present it as a portfolio.
Strathmore 455-8 Strath Sketch S 400
The Strathmore 455-8 Strath Sketch S 400 comes from a brand many artists swear by. This is another smooth paper, which presents itself as being aimed at the more advanced artist. Again, it is spiral bound – so useful but not the sexiest end product if you were looking to present or share a body of work.
What stands the 400 series apart is the heavy chipboard backing on the sketchbook, making it really useful when you are out and about. You won’t need a secondary surface to keep things flat. It’s the brand that people who went to art school swear by.
Lemome Sketchbook with Premium Thick Paper
This is an interesting one on the list, it’s from a series of notebooks which come with ruled or grid marked pages. However, Lemome described the paper as being ‘20%-54% thicker and smoother than normal’ which means it will cope with a lot of wet media, but is probably less robust on that front than the other four in this list. The Lemome Sketchbook with Premium Thick Paper comes as an attractive sketchbook, with faux leather cover.
Depending on your ink needs, you will want to experiment with this one before you commit. For instance, if you are looking to blend alcohol markers it is wet work, and this paper isn’t your best choice. The sketchpad lays flat nicely and comes with a pen holster – making it a useful addition for the roving artist.