It has been more than a year since Lithuanian manufacturer SM.LT Art were kind enough to sponsor mine and Pedro Alves‘ workshops in a sketching weekend in Barcelona, and in the Winter Sketching School in Riga. It’s due time I reviewed one of their awesome products.
SM.LT’s Authentic Albums collection includes the Authentic Watercolor stitched sketchbook. This is a laid back piece of design, perfect for a relaxed sketch, for your daily practice, or for your long weekend away doodles. It’s lightweight, super portable and the A5 format is large enough for your wide angle sketches. In Portugal, it retails online at 4.99€ in Olmar.
The blue recycled soft cover makes the watercolor paper book stand out from the rest of the Authentic Albums collection.
Being made of cartboard, the cover is of course subject to staining, but that’s ok if, unlike me, you’re careful with your stuff. The good part is that you have a couple of blue extra “pages” for a different kind of art experiment. The soft cover can be challenging if you’re used to sketch standing up or without a hard surface underneath.
The cover and paper are cut simultaneously, so there’s no setback between them. The rounded corners of the sketchbook reduce damage, but the main feature preventing wear is the briefness of the sketchbook – the 24 pages that compose it go by pretty fast! So far, each of the three Authentic books I’ve used lasted only a month each. There’s little chance for any major wear or damage in such a short time.
The 12 sheets of 280gsm cellulose watercolor paper are bound by a red stitching line, visible in the gutter of the central spread. It’s a cute detail, kind of a red dotted line, letting you know that you’ve used up half of your sketchbook, maybe time to order a new one.
I’ve thrown my best and worse on this sketchbook, and the results are mixed. It’s a very good paper for your watercolor experiments, and you can get some vibrant tones out of it. It has a slightly rough texture – something like a rough pressed down grain – but smooth enough for fine nib pens to glide easily over it.
It opens completely flat, so you get a nice spread for an uninterrupted panoramic sketch. It sucks up the water pretty quickly, so you better be fast with the brush if you want the colors to blend. The use of intense colors causes the paint to transfer from page to page over time. So, be sure to scan your sketches soon after you finish them, as smudges will appear on the opposite pages of the stains.
Pros final count
- Balanced cellulose paper for your daily fix of sketching and watercoloring.
- Small enough to be exhausted in a short trip or a weekend event.
- Portable and lightweight.
- Very inexpensive.
- Opens flat.
- Friendly landscape proportions (taller than other sketchbooks)
Cons final count
- Transfers intense colors from page to page, over time.
- Cover subject to wear and tear in prolonged use.
I feel a sense of accomplishment when I manage to compile the sketches of a weekend away from home, or a professional event, into a single sketchbook. The SM.LT Authentic Watercolor Book provides that feeling! It’s a relaxed and brief, but competent watercolor sketchbook, that allows plenty of range in watercolor and sketching experiments. It’s well suited for fast sketchers, as watercolors dry pretty fast. I’ll use more of these in the future, no doubt.