Posts in category "reviews"

Video: My portable sketching kits collection

Being a mixed media artist, in my 15 years of sketching on the go I discovered that just one sketching kit doesn't fulfill all my creative needs. That's why I've developed not one, not two, not three, but five different sketching kits for every occasion, and I share them in this video:

The five kits are:

00:13 Minimal sketching kit
04:14 Basic sketching kit
07:02 Watercolor sketching kit
15:16 Study sketching kit
23:37 Travel sketching kit

For a text summary and a complete list of tools I mentioned in the video, read the article on my main blog: 5 types of portable sketching kits I use: watercolor, minimal, travel kit & more

In other news, I updated my sketchbooks comparison review post again with some new sketchbooks, and the table is now color-coded. I have some new interesting sketchbooks on my table at the moment, and when I get a chance to test them thoroughly, I'll add them to the post.

My Sketchbooks Comparison Reviews: Canson, Moleskine, Hahnemühle and more (2021 update)

My sketchbooks

I addmitted before I am a sketchbook addict — whenever I come across a sketchbook that looks promising, I must have it. It would not be a problem if it didn't end up unused for several years, which sometimes happens to my art supplies. But I did at least try out all my sketchbooks enough to make an opinion about them, so here it is.

I have updated this article in 2020 and 2021 with many new sketchbooks that I have thoroughly tested in the meantime.

Some notes regarding how I approach my "reviews":

  • I live in Croatia, which means I don't have access to many brands which may be common where you live. Most of the sketchbooks I've featured here are purchased locally. I sometimes buy new ones when I travel, but I rarely buy sketchbooks online because international art stores often charge very high shipping costs to Croatia – more than the cost of the sketchbook itself.
  • I switch between different techniques often, so I favor sketchbooks that can handle multiple wet and dry mediums. This may not be relevant for all artists. I have yet to find the "perfect" sketchbook that can work with anything I throw at it. The score only reflects how versatile a sketchbook is, but not necessarily its quality.

Sketchbooks covered in this comparison:

Comparison table is provided at the bottom. I will add more to it as I try out.

Note: Links that point to the Amazon shop are affiliate links, meaning I get a small cut if you buy the sketchbook. The cost is the same for you.

Moleskine Art Plus sketchbook

Moleskine sketchbook

Considering all the hype about Moleskines, I was very disappointed with this particular sketchbook.
I knew it was not designed for water-based media (although it's advertised for gouache), but I expected it would at least handle ink well, and I was wrong. While there's no obvious problem with fineliners and brush pen, other than looking a bit faded instead of pure black, the results with my calligraphy pen are very poor - streaky, patchy, and leaky. Don't let my sketch examples fool you, I increase the contrast in Photoshop before uploading, but in reality the black ink is nowhere near black, the paper just soaks it up.
The paper is very smooth, but it's also covered with something that prevents ink from setting properly. I've heard people using fountain pens are also somewhat dissatisfied.
Thick black marker bleeds through.

You can use watercolor pencils on it and the paper won't buckle, but rub the paper with a wet brush too much, and you get patches of water leaking through the paper that kinda ruin the uniformity of color. Both the color and watercolor pencils lose their vibrancy on this paper, because the slick surface doesn't hold on to much pigment. This means the final artwork colors are impacted by the yellowish tone of the paper.

You can use this sketchbook with opaque media such as gouache and acrylic. After giving up on using this sketchbook for sketches, I switched to using it as a mixed media art journal, and for that it works quite well. This, the thickness of paper, and the fact that the book opens absolutely flat so you can use both pages at once, are the only advantages in my opinion. If you aren't too concerned with ink and markers showing through the other side, you might as well buy something more affordable with a larger number of thinner pages. If you're only going to use it for mixed media (with primer applied), then it's fine.

Verdict: I used it up, but I will never buy this one again.

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Some of the links lead to my other website, where I posted newer works.

Moleskine Watercolor Notebook

Moleskine watercolor notebook

I'm not a fan of the extreme landscape format. I have bought this sketchbook only because there is no alternative to it where I live — however, you may be able to find other sketchbooks locally or online with paper of comparable quality, but a more reasonable portrait format binding (Derwent, Global Arts, Stillman and Birn, Hahnemühle — if I find a retailer that doesn't charge an arm and a leg for shipping to Croatia, I will try them out).

Paper is a medium-weight cold pressed watercolor paper — great for just about any water media application and double-sided use. The texture however makes it less than ideal for smooth ink drawings and calligraphy. Advanced watercolor artists may not find this wood pulp paper impressive, but for those of us who have a more mixed-media approach, it's pretty good.

Update: They now have a portrait version, so I bought another one!

Verdict: It's pretty good in my opinion if you're not too fussy about your watercolor paper.

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Some of the links lead to my other website, where I posted newer works.

Winsor & Newton spiral-bound watercolor sketchbook

Winsor & Newton wire bound watercolor sketchbook

My sketchbook is several years old, and I have read they changed their paper supplier afterwards, so the quality is no longer as good as in the older editions.
I don't use it in an advanced way (heavy washes, lifting off the paint), but the price to quality ratio is in my opinion quite good and it works well for me. It has 170gsm hot-press watercolor paper, so I like it for the ability to draw very smooth lines in ink.

One thing I noticed is when I use ink (whether it's a pen, brush, or fineliner, it doesn't matter) when the pages rub together (spiral-bound books are pretty loose), the adjacent page will get some ink residue on it — nothing too big and most of it will get off with an eraser, but it can be annoying if there is a nice watercolor drawing on the other page... so depending on how important you consider your sketches to be, you may have to skip reverse pages if you work in ink.

Pages are perforated so you can tear them out if you want to exhibit or sell them.

Verdict: I prefer hardbound sketchbooks because spiral-bound ones smudge a lot, but other than that the paper is wonderful. I really wish this one came in hardbound version!

I can't find this one for sale online – maybe it's discontinued?


Some of the links lead to my other website, where I posted newer works.

Canson ArtBook: Universal Sketch Book

Canson ArtBook: Universal Sketch Book

The price of this one is about the same as Moleskines. After testing all my drawing instruments on it, I love it! I keep using it again and again. The paper is thin and weighs only 90gsm, but it's sized well so nothing but the thick marker bled through. Paper grain is very fine so my brush pens, dip pens, fountain pens and calligraphy pens glide over it and I can say this is absolutely the best sketchbook for ink of all the other ones that I've tested so far. No feathering, no bleeding, no ugly yellow paper tone, opens fully flat, has a rubber band and a back pocket... if the paper was a bit thicker, it would be perfect. But I'm satisfied with it as it is.

Watercolor warps the paper a little. It's not bad with light washes so you can add splashes of color to your lineart, but it's not intended for wet washes and you can't expect it to perform like a watercolor paper would. But I'm really stubborn and have done pretty complex watercolor drawings on this one with satisfactory results.

This is my favorite sketchbook for color and watercolor pencils, because I can get intense colors, as well as smooth strokes and gradients.

It's advertised as resistant to erasing, and I can confirm that it really is. I was able to get 2B graphite lead and light color pencil strokes completely off without a trace of residue.

Verdict: So far this is my favorite one for everyday use. I filled up 5 of these since 2012, and keep buying more. This one, plus a sketchbook for watercolor and mixed media, is really all I need.

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Some of the links lead to my other website, where I posted newer works.

Canson 180° ArtBook: Universal

Canson 180° ArtBook: Universal Sketch Book

The paper in this sketchbook is exactly the same as in the above reviewed Canson ArtBook Universal sketchbook, so I'm not going to repeat it. Notable differences between the two are that the 180° has no spine cover so it can lie fully flat, and has fewer pages (80 compared to 112 the former has). It also has a magnet clasp instead of a rubber band which sounds fancy, but I don't really care. I think it just makes the sketchbook more expensive for no good reason.

I have the A4 sized one which is too big to carry around on a day-to-day basis, so I don't use it very often. I like it for life studies (so far I've used it in the natural history museum on a couple occasions), ink drawings, and larger pencil sketches.

Verdict: I prefer the regular Universal sketchbook because it has more pages for less money, and I don't have any issues working on two spreads because it opens fully flat too. But if the normal Universal sketchbook is not available, this one is a good substitute.

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The links lead to my other website, where I posted newer works.

Canson ArtBook: One

Canson ArtBook: One

I bought this one only because my usual Canson Art Book Universal sketchbook was not available, so I thought this one would be similar enough. It's not. I regret buying it.

The paper in this one is 100gsm compared to the 90gsm in Universal, but it doesn't seem to have any sizing so it's only good for dry media. Ink and other wet media doesn't move across the paper, it just soaks up and sometimes goes through to the other side (see photo). Even fineliners feather out on this paper if you draw slowly. High quality watercolor pencils and crayons don't dissolve into uniform surfaces. The initial lines remain visible because the pigment sticks to where it first landed.

Another issue I have is the binding. Art Book One has 6 signatures with 8 sheets each so it doesn't open fully flat. Art Book Universal has 14 signatures with 4 sheets each, which makes the binding looser so it opens fully flat. The binding on One also contains way too much glue that seeps into the centers of each signature and the sheet sticks together until you detach it (see photo), which is just unforgivable. What the Hell, Canson?

The Art Book One has no rubber band or pocket, and the cover is faux textile (not faux leather), so basically it's inferior to Art Book Universal in almost every way.

It's pretty great with dry media. Color pencils, charcoal and pastel apply very nicely and blend well.

Verdict: I don't know what I'll use it for because I have way too many dry media sketchbooks already. Unless you draw with charcoal and pastel pencils regularly, I think Universal is undoubtedly a better option.

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I don't have any pages from this one uploaded yet, I'll add them later.

Canson Montval watercolor

Canson Montval watercolor sketchbook

This spiral-bound watercolor sketchbook features the same paper available from Canson in large sheets and blocks. I bought it only because there were no other hardboud sketchbooks avalabile in my local art store at the time. I'm not a fan of spiral-bound sketchbooks for traveling as the pages get frayed at the edges and ink rubs on the opposite page.

The paper is decent 300 gsm watercolor paper that I use for my larger paintings. The slight texture means my ink lines are not as crisp, but for some quick watercolor and ink sketches and doodles it's fine. I had to protect some pages with tissue paper because the ink rubbing was destroying my fragile watercolor paintings. If I only get 12 pages, I really want to be able to use both sides.

Verdict: Would not buy again because it's spiral-bound and a handful of pages, so I filled it up very quickly. It's better for watercolorists than for urban sketchers.

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Hahnemühle Kraft sketchbook

Hahnemühle Kraft sketchbook

I recieved this one for free from Hahnemühle, and I still haven't gotten around to making a proper review, but I'll just note my quick thoughts about it like I did for the other ones.

The toned paper makes it possible to draw with both dark and light media, and get a nice range of shades with minimal effort. It's very slick, much smoother than other sketchbooks on this list, similar to the Moleskine sketchbook. But unlike the Moleskine, this one works wonderfully with ink. The paper is pretty sturdy so I haven't had any leaks, even with heavier ink application, so I'm able to use both sides of the paper.

Due to the smoothness of the paper, my white pencils do not come out as opaque on this paper as they do on pastel paper. I assume their new Cappucino sketchbook might perform better with light color and pastel pencils, but I haven't tested that one yet. So that's the only sad drawback of this sketchbook: color and watercolor pencils are a bit less intense on this paper. Pastel pencils come out stronger, but it depends on the color and possibly the brand. White gel pen, paint markers, and gouache so far performed best when it comes to opacity.

Because of the brown tone, this type of sketchbook is not suitable for watercolor (which is transparent) so I haven't even tried it. When it comes to water-soluble media such as pencils and crayons, it holds up well if you're careful enough. Too much scrubbing, and the paper might eventually pill.

Verdict: I like this one. I haven't tried any other brown toned sketchbooks so I don't have anything else to compare it with, but I assume that Hahnemühle Cappucino is better than this one, and I will likely try that one next instead of getting the Kraft again.


All of the links lead to my other website, or to my Instagram profile.

Hahnemühle Watercolor Book

Hahnemühle Watercolor Book

This one is in many ways similar to the Moleskine Watercolor Notebook. I bought it while I was traveling, and now I'm bummed that I haven't picked a larger size. The paper is comparable to Moleskine in many ways, the thickness, texture and feel are pretty similar. I've seen other reviewers compare it unfavorably to the Moleskine, but I personally haven't noticed any difference. I use student grade watercolor paints though, so maybe that means something.

The cold press texture means that my ink lines are not super smooth, but I like the effects I can get with a dry brush, which is a new trick I learned. My fountain pens and brush pens all work nicely on this paper. Texture is visible when used with color and watercolor pencils, so I first add a flat watercolor wash to cover up the white of the paper.

Verdict: I would like to buy this one in larger size, I think it would be quite good for my quick mixed media sketches, which is something I do more often than pure watercolors anyway.

Buy on There's also a portrait version.


All of the links lead to images hosted on my other website,, or my Instagram profile.

Hahnemühle D&S Sketchbook

Hahnemühle D&S Sketchbook

I recieved this one for free from Hahnemühle, and I still haven't made up my mind about it. There are pros and cons to it, but I find that I'm not using it as much as my other sketchbooks.

It's an interesting sketchbook for sure, with bulky natural white paper of a buttery texture. Gritty enough to catch pigments from dry media, but it's not textured so blending is smooth. Pretty much a dream to work on with pencils, pastel pencils, charcoal and graphite. But you know me, I can't possibly be constricted to that.

The paper can handle some watercolor and ink with minimal buckling, but it's not really intended for that, and the colors lose their vibrancy. Ink lines are fuzzy, so I have entirely given up on that. Watercolor pencils and crayons fare much better, and it's good for gouache. Acrylics would probably work, but I haven't tested since I think this paper would be wasted on that.

It doesn't have a strap nor the back pocket, but it has a bookmark ribbon. The binding is pretty tight so it doesn't open flat, so I hadn't done any full spreads in it.

Verdict: If you mostly use dry media, it's nice. But if you like mixed media and ink, not so much.

Not on Amazon, here's the Hahnemühle product page.


All of the links lead to my Instagram profile.

Handbook Journal

Handbook Journal

This was my first square sketchbook, which made the experience of using it interesting. The paper is a natural white, so not too creamy yellow, and it didn't affect the colors of my final drawings too much.

The paper has a slight tooth, but my inked lines with brush pens, fountain pens, and calligraphy pens came out very smooth. Heavy ink application may leak onto the other page. Ink did not smudge after it's dry.

It worked very nicely with colored pencils, pastel pencils, as well as water-soluble pencils and crayons. Heavier applications of graphite or color tend to transfer onto the opposite page.

I did use light watercolor washes with this one, and it was OK. Not great, not terrible. Gouache worked quite nicely. I did some ink wash too, by going over fountain pen ink with a wet brush, and that came out nice without the paper getting too warped (but I only used a very small sketchbook size, I don't know what happens on large sizes.) Handbook has a watercolor sketchbook too that I haven't tried.

Verdict: I got it as a gift and used it up, but I wouldn't buy one. The paper is not that great in my opinion, and they are not cheap.

Buy on There are portrait and landscape versions.


All of the links lead to my other website, where I posted newer works, or my Instagram profile.

Royal Talens Art Creation

Royal Talens Art Creation sketchbook

I bought this one locally out of curiosity because of its 140gsm paper which is supposed to handle light washes of watercolor, and is also very smooth. Sounded good for my ink and watercolor technique, but does it meet the expectations? I'd say it's so so. I like it better than the Moleskine sketchbook which it shares very similar features with. Both are hard-bound with thick cream-colored paper, have an elastic strap and bookmark ribbon, and both feature covers in black and red. (Talens also comes in white.) If I had to choose between the two, I'd pick the Talens one. But would I choose it overall? Not really.

I pop this one in my purse because I got the mini size so if I get bored I can doodle in it with brush pens or fountain pen, which it's very good for. But watercolor buckles the paper a bit even with dry applications, so to me it's not any better than my everyday Canson Universal. The cream paper is really not my thing and I should stop buying it.

Verdict: If you like the Moleskine sketchbook, you will probably like this one, and it's cheaper.

Buy on There are portrait, square, landscape versions.


I don't have any pages from this one uploaded yet, I'll add them later.

Fabriano Schizzi

Fabriano Schizzi sketchbook

I never intended to use this one as a sketchbook. I bought it for my intention journal (not-a-planner) and filled it with writing, and then, inspired by my mixed media Moleskine art journal, decided to recycle this one into a junk journal.

On its own, the paper is thin natural white dry media sketch paper with a bit of grit so it works well with graphite, charcoal, colored pencils, pastel pencils, what have you. Watercolor pencils are so so, ink applied with a brush pen or a wet nib feathers a bit. Works well with fountain pens and fineliners. It would have worked for me early on when I mostly sketched with ballpoint pens and fineliners, but for what I do now, the paper is not good.

I made use of it by covering the pages with gesso, acrylic paint, or watercolor, and work over with various water-soluble media like crayons, Inktense pencils, gouache etc. The paper doesn't buckle a ton which is surprising, making it a very affordable mixed media journal for those who don't want to splurge on actual mixed media sketchbooks.

Verdict: It's OK if you need something cheap.


Reflexions Pocket Journal

Reflexions Pocket Journal

I received this blank sketchbook from an art gallery that organized a sketchbook art show. It wasn't what I would choose for myself, for reasons that are probably already clear by now.

The paper is natural white and relatively thin, with some grit but not a lot of texture. It's good for dry media: graphite pencils, colored pencils, possibly pastel pencils? I didnt have any at the time, so I didn't test.

When it comes to ink, it's just not good. It leaks through the paper, and bleeds so the lines look fuzzy unless you're using a very dry pen, like a fineliner. This is an absolute dealbreaker for me, so that's why I'm so critical towards it.

I tried light watercolor washes and the sketchbook handled them OK, but rubbing the paper too much would make it flake, so I had to be very careful. Colors become muddy when applied.

Before I was done with this sketchbook, it started coming apart so I had to tape it back together. It would not endure being shuffled around a bag or pocket, despite its name.

Verdict: I do not recommend this sketchbook, and will never use it again. They have a watercolor journal too, which seems to be a much better option.


All of the links lead to my other website, where I posted newer works.

Clairefontaine Goldline

Clairefontaine Goldline

The paper is slightly thicker (140gsm) and has a fine tooth. Works well with ink, the lines come out very smooth and I haven't noticed any leaking on the other side. Dry media works well of course, but to be honest I haven't used it much in this one. It is advertised for dry media, so I expect that shouldn't be a problem.

Watercolor buckles the paper slightly, but the colors come out on the page bright and saturated (since the paper is bright white), and I haven't noticed any damage while dragging the brush over the wet page, so that's better than most sketchbooks on this list. I also used it a lot with mixed media and acrylics.

Unlike most hardbound sketchbooks it has no back pocket, strap, or bookmark ribbon. I can't remember how much I paid for it, but I think it was pretty affordable. It's a bit tight around the spine, so it takes an effort to lie it flat, but I was still able to paint full spreads.

Verdict: Seems good so far, it scored the highest in my versatility test. I might get this one again if I don't find something I like better.

I can't find the exact one I have on Amazon, here's the Clairefontaine product page.


I don't have any pages from this one uploaded yet, I'll add them later.

Lega-lega notebook

Lega-lega notebook

This sketchbook has thin velvety paper — not very good for fine-liners or brush pen because they feather and sometimes leak, but it's good for pencil (though graphite easily transers onto adjacent pages, but it happens with a Moleskine too), colored pencil, ballpoint pen, and even watercolor pencil and light watercolor will work, but as with any thin paper it will buckle a bit when wet.
The subtle off-white tone is very nice.

Verdict: If you live in Croatia and are not too fussy about paper, this one is OK and I've used it up pretty fast. I suppose you can find similar quality sketchbooks locally wherever you live.

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Hahnemühle Art & Report Book

Hahnemühle Art & Report Book

I recieved this one for free from Hahnemühle, but they discontinued it before I was able to review it properly. For this reason it's not included in the comparison table.

I have a love-hate relationship with this sketchbook. It's absolutely beautiful for dry media: colored pencils, soft pastels and pastel pencils, charcoal, graphite... The natural white paper is buttery smooth, with enough grit to make the pigment stick, but blending is easy and leaves no texture visible. So far so good.

They've claimed that this sketchbook works with ink and light watercolor washes, and I have not found that to be true. It does work to an extent, but I've encountered many problems. Wet paper should not be touched at all because it pills really bad. Brush pens, fountain pens, any other wet ink pens will bleed so the lines look fuzzy. Dry ink pens like fineliners work fine. India ink will not leak through the paper, so that's good.

I turned this sketchbook into a mixed media art journal because I've found that heavy layering can mask the weakness of the paper, but overall it's better for dry media only. I really like that it opens fully flat because the cover is loose around the spine — this has led me to some very interesting extreme landscape compositions.

Verdict: Doesn't matter since it's no longer available, but I wouldn't get it again. I wish they made one like this with hot press watercolor paper.


All of the links lead to images hosted on my other website,

Lega-lega red notebook

Lega-lega red notebook

I can't find it online anymore so it seems to be discontinued, so I removed it from the comparison table. The paper is thin and somewhat smooth. Brush pen doesn't leak through, but my calligraphy pen does a bit.

Verdict: If you live in Croatia and love unusual things, this is as unusual as it gets. That, and the black version.


Some of the links lead to my Instagram profile.

EDIT: Moleskine now has the same black paper thing, but thicker.

teNeues Magneto

teNeues Magneto sketchbook

This one is technically not a sketchbook. It's a blank, unlined notebook. I used it for sketching though, so I'll cover it anyway. I suppose this one is similar to regular Moleskine notebook in many ways, but I haven't had one so I'm not sure. The paper is thin, smooth, off-white.

It's OK for everything except watercolor and a heavy ink application. Brush pen doesn't leak through, paper takes light water washes with a little buckling.

I bought it at a discount so the price was OK, however the normal price is more than I'd normally be willing pay for such a notebook (about he same as Moleskine) since it's not artist grade.

Verdict: I'm satisfied with it because it's been very useful, but I won't buy more of them.

Buy on


Sketchbook media comparison table

I assigned points for each medium I tested on the paper, no gesso or any other primer applied. (I don't have any alcohol markers, sorry). OK = 1 point, Great = 2 points, Bad = 0 points, and the sum is at the bottom. This is my subjective impression of how well the medium performed, if you like certain effects you may rate them differently.

The points by no means reflect the overall quality of the sketchbook, just how versatile it is with different mediums. You need to weigh your priorities when choosing the one that's right for you.

Moleskine sketchbook Moleskine watercolor Winsor & Newton wire bound watercolor Canson Art Book Universal Canson Art Book One Canson Montval Hahnemühle Kraft sketchbook Hahnemühle Watercolor Book Hahnemühle D&S Sketchbook Handbook Journal Reflexions Pocket Journal Clairefontaine Goldline teNeues Magneto Lega-lega notebook Fabriano Schizzi
Graphite pencil Great OK Great Great Great OK OK OK Great Great Great Great OK Great Great
Charcoal Bad OK OK OK Great OK OK OK Great Great ? Great Bad Great Great
Ballpoint pen Great OK Great Great Great OK OK OK Great Great Great Great Great Great Great
Pigment ink fine-liner Great OK Great Great OK OK Great OK OK Great OK Great Great OK Great
Brush pen OK Great Great Great Bad Great Great Great Bad OK Bad Great Great Bad OK
Colored pencils OK OK Great Great Great OK OK OK Great Great Great Great OK Great Great
Watercolor pencils & crayons OK Great Great Great Bad Great OK Great OK Great OK Great OK OK OK
Watercolor Bad Great Great OK Bad Great Bad Great OK OK Bad OK Bad OK Bad
Gel pens Great Great Great Great OK Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great OK Great
Calligraphy pens Bad OK Great Great Bad OK Great OK Bad OK Bad Great Bad Bad Bad
Fountain pens Great OK Great Great Bad OK Great OK OK OK Bad Great OK Bad Great
Paint markers Great Bad Bad OK Bad Bad Great Bad Bad Bad Bad OK Great Bad Bad
Gouache and Acrylic Great Great Great OK ? Great OK Great Great Great ? Great Bad OK OK
Soft pastels & pastel pencils Bad Great OK OK Great Great OK Great Great Great ? Great Bad Great Great
Water based markers Bad Great OK Great OK OK OK Great Bad OK ? Great OK Bad Bad
Versatility score 17 21 25 25 13 21 20 21 18 23 10 28 15 15 19

My new Epson scanner arrived! (Epson Perfection V330 Photo scanner Review)

I bought an Epson Perfection V330 Photo scanner, and tested it today so here's my review!
I was a little skeptic because I read many reviews that pointed out some issues, but so far I had none.

I was deciding between this model and Canon CanoScan 5600F. They are around the same price and have very similar features, and the reviews are equally good (or equally irate). My deciding point was that Epson can open the lid fully up to 180° as the images clearly showed, but I wasn't sure if Canon can do that. Since most of my artwork is larger than A4, this is very important to me.

So, am I satisfied? Yes, pretty much! :D I have scanned some of my drawings and paintings and the scans are just sooo much better than the photos I made of them. Here's an example:

Photo vs. scanner

See the new scan of Animus in full size :)

I used my Pentax k100D SLR for the photo, I took the shot in daylight with a tripod, and preserved the RAW format so basically, that's the best you can get without studio lighting. I retouched it to get more accurate colors, but there simply wasn't enough color information to begin with. Compared to the scan it's washed out.
The scan is very close to the original, the colors are very vibrant, contrast is perfect, I had to make minimal color adjustments. The paper texture is maybe too harsh (it's not so evident in person), but I can live with that.
I noticed on the new scan of Ascent that it picked up even the subtlest creases on the paper, but it can be retouched — as long as all the shades are there (and they pretty much are!) it's good.

I don't really need the transparency unit so much, but 25 Euro difference wasn't a big deal, so it's nice to have that option in case I decide to have fun with my vintage film cameras again.
Canon LiDE models were out of the question because of the CIS sensor which is pretty much useless for anything that's not completely flat. Forget about mixed media/collage, warped watercolor paper, paper that has been folded and such.

One other thought: the scanner software applies automatic settings when you preview the scan. I haven't found the option to turn it off completely yet, but there is a button that resets the settings to normal. You can either use the scanning software settings then to adjust your scan, or if you prefer to use a certain program (GIMP or Photoshop) just scan as it is, and then edit the image in your favorite program, which is what I'm doing.

I've been without a scanner for over a year, but the one I had was not very good (one of the older HP all-in-one printers), it used to cut off subtle shades and this was very frustrating, so photographing pieces was actually a better option.

If you don't have a scanner, it's OK if you have a decent point-and-shoot camera. Some of my artwork photos were taken with a Sony Cybershot DSC-W170 from my hand, and it worked well too. The only trick is that you take it in daylight so the colors are accurate, and you have a steady hand (I take 5-6 photos and pick the clearest one). My sketches and WIPs were taken on incandescent light, so it took a lot of Levels adjusting to get the colors from yellowish to neutral.
If you're thinking about a scanner for your traditional artwork, I can recommend this one. I'll let you know if anything changes :)