The Difference between a Sketchbook and an Art Journal

As kids, our artistic choices were limited. A sheet of paper and a box of colour pencils were all that was required to make a masterpiece. There were no worries about using the right style, technique, paper GSM or medium. We created different world with what was available. Limited choices but unlimited happiness.

Adulthood unlocked a whole new world of art with numerous possibilities for exploration. Besides pencils, now we have discovered the existence of, different paints, pastels and markers and pens. The canvas for making art works has also expanded its horizon. With so many choices being available, understanding the difference between some of the popular tools will help utilize them effectively to create, grow and express.


What is a sketchbook?

 A sketchbook for drawing is a bound book with blank pages that is designed for drawing, sketching and painting. Sketchbooks vary in paper thickness and orientation. They are typically available in- portrait and landscape orientations. The diversity in the thickness of the pages make it suitable for a wide range of mediums.

100- 120gsm- suitable for dry media like pencils, crayons. Pastels, charcoal, graphite.

140-250Gsm- suitable for mixed mediumsThis includes both dry media and wet media like gouache, acrylics and mild watercolours.

 300GSM and above- specifically made for water colours. Such papers that are usually made of cotton to have good water absorption capacity.

 Sketchbooks are very popular among artists and are used to experiment with different mediums, styles, techniques and hone one’s skill. It is a space to express one’s thoughts through art either by drawing from imagination or capturing real-life moments.  It can be used to make rough sketches without the pressure of making only finished masterpieces as well as undertake large/professional art projects.


What is an Art Journal?          

An Art journal diary  can be used by anyone regardless of artistic skills. It is like a diary but high page quality that will allow both venting through words and creative self-expression. There are no limitations to what can be done with an art journal.

It can be used to draw, paint, or even doodle, write, plan and collage. It can combine writing with art and many users include their favourite quotes or write a short paragraph in their spreads.

The Neorah Art Journal has an index and numbered pages that help to make art journaling  an everyday habit for therapeutic purposes.


The difference between the paper in a Sketchbook and an Art Journal             

 1. Paper weight and thickness


Sketchbook- The paper is thicker here as it has to handle heavy mediums like acrylic, gouache & watercolours without bleeding as well as dry mediums without fraying



 Art Journal- The paper is usually around 200 GSM to make it flexible for mixed media usage such as paints, markers and fountain/ink pens, without feathering.


  1. Texture and Finish


Sketchbook- The paper has a textured surface, called tooth, to grip dry media like charcoal, graphite, pastels etc and enhance its depth in an art work


Art Journal- The paper is buttery smooth to enhance the writing experience. The pen glides across the pages effortlessly and fine details are achieved with precision


  1. Absorbency


Sketchbook- The paper is highly absorbent to handle wet media pigments. It  allows artists to create clean lines and edges without smudging or warping



Art Journal- Art journal paper has controlled absorbency. It allows inks from pens to dry quickly without soaking through the paper and accommodates light washes of paints like water colours


  1. Versatility

 Sketchbook- It is primarily intended for sketching and drawing. It focuses on providing an optimal surface for artistic techniques over smooth writing

Art Journal- It is highly versatile. It can accommodate detailed writing entries, doodles and other creative art journal ideas. it  is the perfect choice for those who enjoy writing and drawing in one place


Both Sketchbooks and Art Journals  are valuable tools for creative expression. While sketchbooks prioritize artistic skill development, art journals blend writing and art effortlessly for unique mixed media creations. By understanding the distinct features of each, artists can make informed decisions and enrich their creative journey more efficiently.

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