It comes in three sizes: portrait and landscape A5 and A6, plus a bulky landscape A4. This review is about the A5 landscape, which retails at 12.83€ at my local art supply store.
The hard cover is furbished in a dark grey synthetic fabric that has a slightly rough texture, which is quite practical, as it reduces the chance of the sketchbook slipping from your hand, while sketching or transporting it. It has a black elastic band that keeps it closed, the customary red ribbon page marker, and features the Hahnemühle’s rooster logo embossed in the back cover, center bottom.
The corners of both the cover and the paper are rounded, to prevent wear, and the paper sets back from the edge of the cover around 3-4mm, which grants additional protection to the paper edges. The whole sketchbook is quite robust. I’ve used a HWB for as long as six months, carrying it around in the backpack, without a hint of wear on either cover or paper.
Inside, 40 bound sheets of excellent 200gsm, fine grain, watercolor paper, await your scribbles. The endsheets are in the same kind of paper, so you can actually start sketching right from the back of the cover – I use the endpaper to write down my name and contacts, in case of loss.
One thing that stands out immediately is that the HWB lays completely flat when open. There’s no better way, aside from quality paper, to entice a sketcher to use a sketchbook than a fully openable spread of paper!
The paper is quite robust, and can withstand serious water. I use both wet-on-dry and wet-on-wet watercolor techniques, and this paper holds its ground quite competently, allowing layering as well as color mixing. It sucks up the water moderately fast, just long enough to mix colors and lead the pigment where you want it.
Using quality watercolors on this paper really pays off, as it preserves all the glow, intensity and transparency that you’d get in higher grade paper. It’s still cellulose paper, so don’t expect the same behavior as in cotton rag (i.e. no more than two to three layers). It wrinkles ever so slightly with the excess water, but nothing that would hamper the quality of your work.
The elastic band is always useful as it keeps the book from opening inside the backpack, and. I also use it to attach a pen temporarily, so that I don’t have to put everything away when I’m carrying the book in the hand while walking just for a few minutes, or to fasten the pages in a windy day. Its elasticity lasts for three years and counting (that’s the age of my first ever HWB)
The red ribbon is pretty much useless to me, as the slight wrinkling the water causes on the paper usually shows me which page was last used. Nevertheless, the ribbon is so slim that I hardly ever notice it.
Pros final count
- Perfectly balanced paper for casual indoor and outdoor sketching and watercoloring. Also used it for a few pro gigs quite satisfactorily.
- Its cover material should be the benchmark for all sketchbooks around.
- Portable, lightweight, resistant.
- Excellent value for money
- Opens flat
Cons final count
- None I can think of
This sketchbook is a blast! A true piece of German engineering. It’s a deluxe canvas for your best sketches – I refrain from using it for experimental sketches, since I want to make each page count – and, if well used, makes your watercolor work pop right out of the pages! If there were to be a 100% cotton HWB in the future, I would definitely buy it.