A few months ago, I was sent a Leda Art Supply sketchbook to check out. After using it for a while with various drawing media, I'm pretty impressed by the quality.
The first thing that caught my attention when I first saw the sketchbook was just how beautiful it was. This is not like those ubiquitous black hardback sketchbooks. This is a softcover sketchbook with a nice textured cover. It feels so good each time I touch the cover.
The sketchbooks are available in these sizes, 3.5 x 5.5, 5.5 x 8.25, 7 x 10 and 8.5 x 12. Basically from pocket size to A4 size.
The binding is fantastic. It allows pages to be opened flat for drawing across both pages.
There's a total of 160 smooth, cream-coloured pages. Paper weight is 120gsm.
Corners are rounded off and there's an elastic band to hold the covers together. After months of use, the elastic band is feeling slightly loose, but that happens to other sketchbooks with elastic bands.
Behind the back cover is a pocket to hold some stuff. I usually put namecards of places I've visited.
This is the first sketch I drew in the sketchbook. I used a dip pen with waterproof India ink, and coloured the sketch with watercolour.
The paper is really smooth. Even with a sharp pointed dip pen, it glides rather smoothly on the paper.
The paper is not watercolour paper so it's not the most suitable paper for watercolour. It can handle light washes but the water tends to glide around much. I will not use more than one layer of wash because the paper is too smooth to handle multiple coats of paint. There will also be slight buckling but the pages can flattened out easily when you put weights on top.
The paper handles ink very well. Inked lines are sharp and do not feather. As for watercolour, the colours do not dull that much so that's a plus.
Because the paper is so smooth, I think it's best for pen and ink sketches.
Here's another sketch drawn with coloured India inks.
For this sketch, I used water-based markers.
When I added water to the water-based marker lines, somehow the ink would almost bleed through the page so you will see the impression opposite. This bleeding through happens to certain combination of media so it's best to test before you draw something elaborate.
Here's a mixed media sketch with pen, ink, pencil and watercolour.
Pencil shading looks quite good on the paper. However because the paper is smooth, there's not much texture to grab onto subsequent pencil shadings.
Overall, I really enjoyed using this sketchbook. As mentioned earlier, the surface texture is so nice to touch and that really makes me want to hold it more.
This sketchbook is best for those who draw primarily with pen and ink. You can use other media as well but do take note of the limitation of the paper, such as the smoothness, and the 120gsm paper weight.
The other thing to note is this is a softcover, so in some situations, it may not be the best sketchbook to draw on. E.g. Drawing while standing.
The price is also very reasonable with the A5 (5.5 x 8.25 inches) sketchbook selling at around US$16. Just for comparison, Moleskine Art Plus sketchbooks (104 pages with 165gsm paper) sell for around US $18.
You can check out more reviews on Amazon. There are more than 600 reviews, mostly positive, on Amazon.