"Here, at The Plywood and Bubblegum Lab in Portland, ME, we like to take the time to test our products throughly. Unlike other labs we run our products through a gauntlet of tests. (How else would one know which palette knife is best for spreading butter or cutting cake?) Below you will find our latest review on Strathmore's hardbound toned sketchbook by our very own Molly B.
First thing: I really liked working with this! It was a great excuse to include both shadow and highlight in figure drawing practice, which is very outside my normal method (graphite on white paper).
The paper doesn’t have much tooth or texture, (which is a plus for me because I love working on a smooth surface and I haven’t yet found a smooth toned paper in convenient bound-book form.) However, if you’re looking for a lot of that paper texture you’ll want to try something else.
As far as mediums go, I don’t recommend it for normal graphite or pencil drawing, unless you use a very soft graphite capable of getting deep value. It’s easy to lose lighter, more delicate lines against the brown tone of the paper. If you’re using charcoal pencils, though, or conte crayon or pen and ink, they will produce a really great contrast. Any medium capable of getting very black, or alternately very bright, will give you some really nice dramatic results.
Most importantly, I love the portable durability of the book. The paper and cover are sturdy and the binding is tough enough to withstand the normal folding, spindling and mutilating that comes with sketchbook territory. It’s not overly thick, so it’s not too heavy in spite of the hardcover binding. I used the 9x11 version, but it comes in enough size variety that you can easily find one to suit most preferences. I can easily see carrying this around for classes, observational practice, or any other reason you might need a sketchbook out in the world.
View Strathmore's Hardbound Toned Sketchbooks in gray and tan.