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Sketchbook and pencil.
"Sketchbook of English Landscape and Coastal Scenery," by the artist William Trost Richards, at the Brooklyn Museum

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. Some also use sketchbooks as a sort of blueprint for future art pieces. 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[edit]

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. The finish of work found in the sketchbook varies widely depending on the artist and their style of work, with some having very simple drawings and 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.

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, such as Apple's iPad devices and Microsoft's Surface tablets.[1]

Online sketchbooks[edit]

The internet has increased access to documents such as the sketchbooks of famous artists which previously would only be seen in an exhibition. A number of the sketchbooks of famous artists have been digitally recorded and are now available online. Links are provided in the external links section below.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bacus, John (8 December 2020). Digital Sketching: Computer-Aided Conceptual Design. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-119-64079-0.
  2. ^ "'War artist' shows occupied Iraq | DW | 20.03.2013". Deutsche Welle.

External links[edit]