Review: Moleskine Folio A4 Watercolor Sketchbook

I went with a large format horizontal format sketchbook for my recent Spain sketching trip. Not many manufacturers sell A4 horizontal format sketchbooks. In the end, I bought the one from Moleskine.

Moleskine watercolour sketchbooks come in small pocket size, A5 (large), A4 and A3 sizes, all in landscape orientation. Note that the pocket size is quite small at 3.5 by 5.5 inches.

The hardcover sketchbook has 60 pages. There's an elastic band that holds the covers together. Page corners are rounded.

Those are corners of the cover. The material over the hardcover seems to wear off easily.

The pages open flat so it's great for drawing panoramic pieces. Because of the format, most of the time you would probably be drawing wide format pieces.

On the inner side of the back cover is a useful accordion pocket you can use to keep stuff. Because the mouth of the pocket isn't up to the spine area, if you put namecards in them, they might actually fall out.

The 200gsm coldpress watercolour paper has a nice textured surface, neither too smooth or rough. You can draw a perfectly straight line across the surface without having to fight the surface texture, which matters if you use pencils or pens on it.

You can show off some nice granulation with the textured surface.

The paper handles light washes well, only warping slightly. More water would have more warping so you might have to clip it to the cover or pages behind.

I've used pencils on it, and even with some heavy erasing, the paper fabric doesn't come off. I've not tried multi-layered washes though. As this isn't a 100% cotton paper sketchbook, I'm be very wary of using more than 2 layers of washes.

Scanning this wide format sketchbook is not easy. It might be difficult to reach the edges near the spine with an A4 scanner. My scanner requires paper to be on the surface of the glass so I had to press down hard at areas near the spine. After that you have to stitch the scanned images together.

Overall, I'm impressed with the quality of the sketchbook and paper. The main thing to keep in mind that the paper is 25% cotton fibre cold pressed so don't expect the paper to be durable enough for lots of glazing or abuse.

My perception of Moleskine sketchbooks is that they are pricey. However, if you need a large landscape watercolor sketchbook, this one provides value for money.

With Daniel Smith watercolours

With Daniel Smith watercolours

I've filled two A4 Moleskine watercolour sketchbooks during my holidays. You can check them out at and


Find more reviews at Dick Blick Art Materials (US) | Jackson's Art (UK)


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