Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Review: Bynd Artisan Artist Watercolour Sketchbook.

The Bynd Artisan Artist
Watercolour Sketchbook
New Product
I attended a workshop on leather crafting conducted by an instructor at Bynd Artisan over one September weekend. It was an enjoyable workshop: a casual affair without pretences, which is always welcomed and expected when the instructor is an experienced craftsperson of the trade. However, this entry is not to expound the details of the class. It is the new item on their catalogue that I was intrigued enough to try: the Bynd Artisan’s Artist watercolour sketchbook.

Physical Appeal
From sight to touch, the item screams quality. What impressed me from the get-go was the quality of the paper used: real artist-grade cold-press 200gsm watercolour paper. According to the staff, the paper is made of 100% cotton. However, upon further clarifications, it was verified as 20% cotton, which is still awesome for painters who are serious about their watercolours. Cotton has the ability to hold water – the primary carrier for the media – copiously and steadily: a plus point for those who enjoying splashing and washing their drawings. Secondly, and a sought after quality for outdoor sketchers, is the binding technique used on the pages and signatures on the book, allows the book to fall completely flat. Finally, in terms of tangible tactility, excellence extends to the materials used to make the cover: a warm leatherette surface on a softbound cover complete with a linen enclosed spine. In short, you would not be ashamed to be seen in public with this artefact.

Click to enlarge
 Superior Paper
As mentioned earlier, 200gsm cold-press watercolour paper is used to create the sketchbook. Unfortunately, the staff members at Bynd were unable to clarify which brand of watercolour paper was used to make the book (house brand, Arches, Fabriano, St Cuthbert?). That may be a blessing in disguise, because it meant I get to try the paper without any preconceived ideas and/or assumptions.

The first noticeable quality is the paper’s ability to hold water without twisting or warping, which makes painting outdoors that much more convenient and comfortable. In addition, colours stay where you put them. It does not run amok and risk ruining the whole picture, in other words, it allows for better control.

Since it is a cotton-blend paper, regular characteristics are expected. I was able to lift pigments off the paper very easily. In some cases, corrections were still possible after the paint has dried. That was particularly impressive.

If you like to paint wet-on-wet or love to show the pigment’s granulation and texture, you would not be disappointed with this sketchbook. Colours blend and bleed into each other beautifully and the granulating quality of the watercolour shows up very nicely on the drawing when it is dry.

Click to enlarge
Final Thoughts

The Bynd Artisan’s Artist watercolour sketchbook (SGD30) is an excellent sketchbook for the travelling artist. It comes in a lightweight and conveniently portable A5 size. It falls flat for those who like or need to sketch across pages. The watercolour paper shows off watercolours beautifully, whichever is your preferred technique. And for those who like to add a touch of lux, there is a complementary leather cover (SGD85) especially for the sketchbook, with the option to personalise the item with your name on it (SGD30/line). In short, it is an absolute gem of an item at a very reasonable price.

Wet-on-wet techniques work very well with the paper.

Granulation shows off well on the paper and glazing techniques.


  1. Hi. Thanks for the detailed review! The link appears to be for another book (200gsm, 20% cotton) though!

    1. Hi @bristolstomp. Thanks for highlighting the point. It appears that the staff had given the wrong info. Thus the link is correct and the paper is indeed 20% cotton. I have updated the review accordingly.

      Thanks again!

  2. Thanks for the clarificarion - it does sound like a gem nevertheless! Just another quick question if you don't mind: how many pages are there? It says 48L on the website, but I'm not sure what that means. Is that 24 sheets which make up 48 pages front and back? Or 48 sheets which make up 96 pages? Or something else altogether?

    1. Sure: 48 (A5) leaves, each leaf has 2 sides. Hope this helps.

    2. Yes, it's very helpful. Thank you!