First look at Arkademie's Somerset Watercolour Sketchbook (100% cotton)

My friend James Lee, the founder of Arkademie, has introduced a new series of watercolour sketchbook recently called Somerset. He has also made improvement to the Heritage series of watercolour sketchbook too. He passed me to two copies to take a look.

Let me talk about the improvement made to the Heritage watercolour sketchbook first.

First, a new A6 size, available in portrait and landscape, has been added to the existing A5 size which I have reviewed before.

The Heritage watercolour sketchbook still uses 220gsm Fabriano Rosaspina printmaking paper.

The buffalo-hide leather cover is the toughest, most durable cover I've ever seen in a sketchbook.

The pages are deckled on all sides. A leather bookmark ribbon is also included.

Unlike the A5 sketchbook, the new A6 size does not have the pen holder underneath the leather strap.

The improvement made to the sketchbook is for the binding.

The signature is now pasted directly to the leather cover. Previously, an extra sheet of paper was used to attach the cover to the first signature. For some reason, the old way of binding wasn't that durable. My sketchbook's binding gave way eventually.

The sketchbook can be opened flat, but it's a bit stiff. The cover is leather so it will become softer with use and time. The sketchbook should open flatter in the future.

This is the new Somerset watercolour sketchbook with 46 pages of 100% cotton 190gsm coldpress Saunders Waterford watercolour paper.

Somerset sketchbook is available in these sizes:

  • Imperial Super Octavo-P (21 x 28cm)
  • B5-P
  • A5-L
  • A5-P

The only landscape format is in A5 size.

The same buffalo hide leather is used here. The leather is quite thick. Looks like 2-3mm thick.

Corners of the cover and pages are all rounded off nicely.

There's also a leather bookmark ribbon.

An elastic band is included. I'm personally not a big fan of such elastic band even though it looks good. All my sketchbooks with elastic bands all lose their elasticity eventually, and I have to cut off the bands.

The Arkademie logo is imprinted on the back.

The Saunders Waterford paper is slightly off white, but much brighter compared to the creamy Fabriano Rosaspina paper.

The binding is similar to that of the Heritage series. The first page of the signature is pasted onto the cover. The binding looks flexible and pages can be open flat.

Saunders Waterford paper is a thirsty paper so lots of water is need when painting. And because the paper holds much water, it also take a longer time to dry. It will take some time to get used to its characteristic.

Since the paper is made with 100% cotton and holds water well, you can expect it to work well with wet-on-wet techniques.

These are premium sketchbooks so they are not cheap. You can check out the prices at

At the time when I wrote this article, there's a 20% Christmas discount on selected products until 12 Dec 2018.


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