Review: Etchr Watercolour Sketchbook (100% cotton)

Etchr Lab is a company based in Australia that sells art supplies and instructional art videos.

If I remember correctly, the first watercolour sketchbook they made and sold was The Perfect Sketchbook designed by Erwin Lian. The Etchr Sketchbook came later.

The Etchr Sketchbook uses watercolour paper made with 100% cotton.

And since 100% cotton watercolour paper is expensive, this sketchbook is noticeably more expensive compared to non-cotton watercolour sketchbooks. The sketchbook is sold in a bundle of three on Etchr Lab website.

These are the prices at the time of review:

Landscape (3 in a bundle)

  • A4: US $117
  • A5: US $87
  • A6: US $61.50

Portrait (3 in a bundle)

  • B5: US $105
  • A5: US $87
  • A6: US $61.50

Thankfully the prices are inclusive of shipping.

If you just want to buy one sketchbook, you can buy on Amazon (links below).

The hardcover is wrapped with cotton fabric that can be painted on. Fabric covers can get dirty quite easily.

There's an elastic band to hold the covers together. With time the elastic band will lose its elasticity and you'll have to cut and remove it – I've done so with several other sketchbooks with such elastic bands.

The sketchbook can be opened completely flat which makes it easy to scan the pages. The binding looks durable.

That's how the cover is glued to the pages.

The paper is able to handle pen, ink and watercolour quite well. Wet on wet techniques work well. Colours are able to blend softly together.

Here's the wet on wet test. Creating gradated wash and colour blends is possible.

These are horizontal strokes painted while the wash was wet. The horizontal strokes are able to blend into the wet wash but not as smoothly compared to other better quality paper as seen below.

You may also notice the horizontal strokes separating into smaller individual streams.

This is Arches watercolour paper and the horizontal are able to blend more smoothly.

This is Fabriano Rosaspina paper (60% cotton) which performs really well with wet on wet. This paper is used in the Arkademie watercolour sketchbook.

Here's a watercolour sketch painted across two pages.

Some water will seep through holes where the threads are but it's not too much, and hence not a big problem.

The texture of the coldpress surface is lovely. Watercolour and granulation looks terrific on the paper.

There's no obvious paper grain pattern.

I was still able to blend colours smoothly by charging in some red paint onto the wet yellow wash.

The paper can handle glazing or layering quite well. The building was painted with yellow. The red was painted over after the yellow was dry. The shadows are then painted over when the red was dry.

Paper weight for the coldpress and hotpress is 230gsm and 220gsm respectively. Quality of the sizing is good and the paper doesn't buckle much with water.

This was painted with gouache. There's a lot of layering involved and there were no issues.

This was created with graphite, coloured pencils and watercolour. Watercolour looks vibrant on the paper.

These are coloured inks from my Uniball pens.


I enjoyed working with the Etchr Sketchbook. Watercolour works great. The paper is able to produce smooth colour blends easily with wet on wet techniques. Overall construction of the sketchbook is good and looks like it can last. I don't have many negative things to say except for the elastic band which will become loose in the future.

This is a sketchbook I can recommend easily as long as you have the budget and appreciation for better quality watercolour paper.


You can find the Etchr watercolour sketchbooks via these links:
Etchr Lab | | | | | | | |



Surprised you don't use

Surprised you don't use something like this then if notebook elastic strap fails annoy you

The A4 fits perfectly around a hardback Etchr A5 portrait long edge, yes not a typo. It fits exactly over the top of the closure elastic (so pens don't poke out the side). I use it not only for travel with some sketching gear, but to keep pages flat in use OR when drying. No clip damage to the paper that way.

My travel hack is with a few silicon bands to attach a ruler and 6 pencil tin plus my stubby eraser to the A4 strap around two A5 HP Etchr notebooks' short edge and I'm set for the day. The strap won't budge. (Ruler under the strap, pencil tin on top of the strap, silicon band looped over both edges to keep the gear together, looks an X when done. Pencil tin stays shut and with my gear.)

I have 3 of the A4 sized, with 5 pen loops, purchased all mine locally in the best find ever at a stationery shop. Amazing Czech product. Love it. The elastic is soft, very thick (19mm), and after over a year's or so use is still quite stiff. Stitching and elastic is very good quality.

The sizing is only odd if you're using thicker notebooks. For a watercolour pad (50 sheets of 240GSM or so) without hard cover an A4 sized band works on both the A5 and A4 pad sizes across the short edge. My faves are spiral bound so I don't try the long edge.

For Strathmore hardbound 400 recycled (160 pages 130GSM) the A4 strap will work better across the short edge than long edge on the 8.5 x 11in size. Forget it on a wirebound Strathmore Visual Journal in a larger size (9 x 12in 50 odd sheets of 270GSM Vellum) though- the A4 strap will struggle across the long edge and I won't try the short edge.

The A4 strap is ideal for a Leuchtturm journal, especially the thicker paper now available in a hardback. Not that I've ever had the elastic fail on those, but 5 pen loops is more practical and the strap sits exactly over the top of the elastic to secure the long edge. I've a few A5 journals I use the A4 strap on this way.

Hope this helps you and other sketchers.

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