Notebooks and sketchbooks are a fundamental part of an architect’s arsenal due to their versatility and practicality. Whether they’re used to jot down quick notes or as a progress journal for a conceptual design, these notebooks become an architect’s constant companion.
With the numerous sizes and brands of notebooks available in the market, it is natural for one to be confused about which notepad to invest in. So to help narrow down your choices, we have listed some of the best sketchbooks for architects together with our favorite notebooks.
What sketchbooks and notebooks do architects use?
While there are no set criteria for what sort of notebooks architects should use, and it mostly depends on personal preference, some household names are loved and trusted by almost all architects. A few of them are listed below.
Moleskine Art Sketchbook
Moleskine was first established in Milan in 1997 and has been used by multiple prolific thinkers and artists in the past, such as Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway etc.
Moleskine notebooks are the blueprint for good architectural notebooks and one of the most recommended.
They are book-bound notepads with semi-hard vinyl covers with distinct rounded edges that are easily recognizable. These Moleskine sketchbooks are a great choice for all architects due to their durability and pocketable size.
Leda Art Supply Sketchbook
Leda sketchbooks are another good recommendation for architecture students or professionals. They are made with durable cream-colored paper (81 lb), which makes them ideal for markers and watercolors, though it works equally well for other mediums.
In addition, Leda sketchbooks come in hard and semi-hard covers that are water-resistant and flexible, making them a very good ally to designers working with multiple mediums.
Pentalic Pocket Sketchbook Traveller Journal
As evident by the name, the traveler sketchbook is a handy pocket journal that is a great investment for people with busy schedules who are always on the move. The standard size for this notebook is 6×8 inches, and it comes with a thick 120 gsm acid-free paper that doesn’t bleed easily.
The traveler pocket journal is highly recommended due to its versatility and portability. However, it does not support a waterproof cover which would have made it an ideal on-the-go sketchbook.
Pantone, established in the United States in 1962, is globally recognized as the leading source of color expertise and is best known for the Pantone Matching System. The Pantone notebooks are a recent introduction by the company, and they come as a set of 10 notebooks, each in a different shade of Pantone’s iconic shades.
Each notebook measures 4” x 5.5” and has beautifully designed blank pages perfect for sketching, doodling or taking quick notes. The notebook set is great for any architect but would also make a good gift for people due to its visually-pleasing aesthetic.
FIELD NOTES by Field Notes
Field Notes is a memo book designed by the Draplin Design Company. Known for its classy and vintage look, the Field Notes measure 4.25” by 6.5” and come in bundles of 3 neutral-colored notebooks. The cut-edged pages can be plain, lined or grid-lined and can be chosen according to your requirements. Architects love it due to its affordability and sleek, professional appearance.
Many people prefer Field Notes over its more expensive counterparts since you might feel conscious while writing in expensive notebooks as not everything is “worthy” of being put in an expensive Moleskine notebook.
MUJI Notebooks by MUJI
Muji or Ryohin Keikaku Co. is a Japanese company that retails household and consumer items. Muji’s minimalist design philosophy emphasizes sustainability, recycling, and reducing production and packaging waste. The MUJI notebook follows the same philosophy and has a minimalist, no-logo cover with a long, colored band on one side.
In addition, the notebooks come in various sizes and page types (line, graph or blank), so it suits people with varying preferences.
While Muji notebooks are an ideal companion for all architects and designers, they are specifically suited to those who prefer to work with a fountain pen, as the paper works beautifully with ink.
Sennelier Urban Sketchbook
Sennelier is a french company that has been manufacturing various high-quality products for artists since 1887. Their urban sketchbook is a unique concept that follows a multifold design that allows you to use eight panels per side to draw.
In addition, it has a strong rough-grain paper that works well with wet media and watercolors. Sennelier designed the sketchbook specifically for people who draw on location and isn’t recommended for casual doodling or notetaking. The idea behind it is to provide the users with a continuous folded page, allowing beautiful panoramic drawings.
Another popular selection among all designers and creatives, Magma idea generation sketchbooks include 136 blank pages that include idea prompts for designers and 16 extra pages that provide various exercises and information that can help designers in decision-making and problem-solving.
In addition, magma sketchbooks have soft covers that use eco-friendly materials and are available in 4 different colors (blue, grey, green and brown).
There are four different kinds of magma sketchbooks, each of which caters for a different creative field, i.e. Fashion, Architecture, Art & illustration, and design and art direction. This notebook is highly recommended if you are an architecture student constantly looking for inspiration while you work.
Grids and Guides
Founded in 1981, Princeton Architectural Press (PA press) is a small publisher based in New York that specializes in books related to design, architecture and photography etc. Grids and Guides is a graph-paper notebook introduced by PA press that features eight different graph paper designs along with various charts, tables and infographics.
While multiple graph papers can be very useful, they are difficult to manage and find. The notebook would’ve been much better if the notebook was divided by graph type into sections. But even with this confusion, the Grids and Guides notebook has good quality paper and informative inserts, which can be very useful for architects.
Grids and Guides Tracebook
The Grids and Guides Tracebook is another item by Princeton Architectural Press that caters to architectural requirements. The Tracebooks come in a set of 2 books and contain two different types of graphs and tracing papers.
Since much of the architectural design process requires layering and working with grids, the notebook provides the ideal space to make quick drawings and add text.
In addition, the tracing paper allows you to layer another drawing to create new iterations on top of the old one to create new iterations.
FAQs about the best sketchbooks for architects
Why do architects use sketchbooks?
There are multiple reasons why you’ll see most architects accompanied by a sketchbook or a notepad most of the time. One of them is the iterative process that accompanies the design process. The design is constantly evolving, and often the architect is hit with sudden inspiration that requires jotting down, and a handy notepad can be very useful at that time.
Another reason is that it allows safe documentation and recording of observational notes that can help the architect later.
What is the best sketchbook for interior design?
Interior designers require small pocket-sized notebooks that can be carried easily but will have good enough paper to withhold multiple art mediums. So it is recommended for them to invest in sketchbooks with a higher gsm, such as the Moleskine Art Sketchbook, which has 165 gsm.
The Pentelic pocket sketchbook and the Traveler Pocket Journal are also good options for interior designers.
What makes a good quality sketchbook?
There are various aspects that you need to analyse before deciding whether a sketchbook is good or not. The paper’s weight, size and type, whether it is blank or lined, and whether it has a hard or soft cover all affect its feasibility.
The visual appeal also greatly matters to designers when selecting sketchbooks or notebooks. A sketchbook with a good weight and high-quality paper can handle art mediums well and isn’t too much of a hassle to carry is usually the making of a good sketchbook.
However, these are not the defined criteria, and everyone’s standard of a “good quality” sketchbook may vary according to their needs and preferences.
Is it better to have a big or a small sketchbook?
Big and small sketchbooks each have their own merits and disadvantages and greatly depend upon what a person needs in certain situations. Therefore, most designers keep various sizes they can use whenever they deem fit.
Small-sized notebooks are great as they can be carried easily and are great for people who work on the go. In addition, they are lightweight and can become constant companions for designers.
However, due to their small size, they do not allow you to work on large drawings and add detail. Bigger-sized sketchbooks, however, can be very hard to carry around and are usually kept in one place, whether it be in a studio or at home. However, due to their paper size, they provide a lot more areas for you to draw in and hence allow you to add more depth and detail to your work.
Is an A4 or A5 sketchbook better?
It purely depends upon your requirements; if you are a person who likes to keep a notebook handy all the time or are a beginner who has just started sketching, an A5 sketchbook would be the ideal choice as it is much easier to carry and work in. Once you have gotten comfortable in the A5 space, you can invest in a bigger A4-sized sketchbook.
What are Moleskine sketchbooks made of?
While the name of the brand can sometimes be misleading, the Moleskine notebooks, in fact, do not use any sort of actual mole skin or any animal leather, for that matter.
Instead, the hardcovers used in Moleskine products are made from polypropylene, one of the most utilized and easily available thermoplastics. And the soft covers are made with polyurethane. Both of these materials are used quite commonly in books/journal coverings.