Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kickstarting the "Perfect Sketchbook"


Cherngzhi Lian is Kickstarting a campaign to produce what he calls the "perfect sketchbook," which he worked out after trying pretty much every sketchbook on the market. His ideal book is hardback, pocket-sized and landscape format, with 100% cotton paper and a grayscale on the endpapers for judging the values in the scene. 

16 comments:

Johnnyburn said...

Do you prefer think in terms of 8 steps or 10 steps in a value chart? This is an interesting Kickstarter, thanks for the post.

Dustin Wilson said...

Backed. Too bad I wouldn't receive it before I had to do a bit of traveling.

Hey James. I know you've mentioned this before, but which sketchbook do you use currently and what kind of brush pen do you use (the one that you fill up with water or ink)? I've looked around for videos on youtube. I know you've mentioned it before, but for the life of me I can't figure out where.

I've sort of fallen out of doing plein air sketching and such, but I'd like to do it some when I'm out traveling this fall then continuing from there. :)

James Gurney said...

Dustin, I'll be doing a complete blog post on all my watercolor sketching materials (as well as releasing a new instructional video) in about a week or so, so stay tuned. But the quick answer is a Moleskine watercolor book and Niji brush pens.

Johnny, I don't really think in terms of gray scales very often to be honest. I used to use the 10 step scale of AD markers way back when. I'm usually trying to simplify a scene into a simpler value scheme of three or four values. The problem with matching an actual scene to a gray scale is getting the illumination constant on both the scene and the scale. Everything is relative.

Tom Hart said...

This does look like a nice sketchbook. But in looking at the specs and comparing it to the Molesline version that you use, James, I don't see much of a difference at all, aside from the value chart and the rounded edges. Is there something I'm missing? Not that compeition with the Moleskine would be a bad thing...

Tom Hart said...
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Tom Hart said...

Actually (correcting myself) the Moleskine also has rounded corners.

Cherngzhi Lian said...

@Tom Hart
Actually I have zero intention to go against Moleskine.(A personal project rather than a business) I love Moleskine sketchbooks. This book was made with the intention to better my watercolor sketches...the bulk of the different is with the paper. 100% Artist grade cotton paper is used in this. Most of the sketchbooks out there do not do this due to cost. Cover material is also very different to a Mole. As for the value chart, its really was an add-on since a sketchbook already uses these space and it didn't cost to include it...Might as well have it in there. I agree with James on relativity... The scale is there for one to judge and to plan their structure or simply to teach people on the important aspect of chroma to value; More educational. One more feature is the interior grey. If you ever taken photography class, you would know about the 18% grey. Its just another add on to the interior and may come in handy since most who knows photography as well. Thank you all for the interest and hopefully I can make this and share with everyone the process of raising funds to paper import and making a sketchbook. It will be fun and that is what you are backing. Not just a book :)

Tom Hart said...
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Tom Hart said...

Thank you, Cherngzhi. I appreciate your taking the time to make those points about the differences. Good luck with your venture.

Carol said...

A question for the people who use Moleskine watercolor journals - have you noticed a difference in the ones you've bought recently? It may be my imagination, but the paper seems different - more of a "pattern" in the texture of the paper. Again, I could be dreaming but ...

David King said...

Am I the only one that prefers a spiral bound sketchbook? I kind of seems like it.

scruffy said...

Hey Dave,
in answer to your question, i've always used hidebound for lack of a better term, sketchbooks. My son however fell in love with spirals and gave me one of his. i gotta say, there are a bunch of advantages and i'm actually liking it.

David J Teter said...

David King, no, you are not the only one who prefers a spiral bound sketchbook.

Carol, apparently there is a difference.
See this post on Making a Mark.

http://makingamark.blogspot.com/2014/05/moleskine-sketchbooks-have-changed-wrappers.html

So good for Cherngzhi Lian for not sacrificing artists quality paper for cost.

Steve said...

A spiral bound with excellent 180 lb. paper for water media is the Stillman & Birn Beta Series. They claim "enhanced wet strength" and I'd say it's true. They're a bit pricey (or, as I heard a young guy in Duluth express it recently, "spendy"). They are available in many sizes and have a beefy cover.

Chris James said...

I haven't tried the watercolor Moleskine, but it shouldn't be hard to outdo them in sketch paper. Their sketchbook is basically a bundle of manilla folder card stock cut into rectangles. Simply awful, imo.

I think there is an opportunity for someone to come in and offer a viable alternative in watercolor sketchbooks, especially if they offer hot press or lighter texture paper than cold-press. hinthint

David King said...

Thanks for the tip Steve on the Stillman and Birns Beta series, I was going to place an order for art materials today so I'll add one to it. I like that they are 6" X 8" instead of 5" X 8" like the one I currently use, though I think I might go with the Zeta series since the paper is smooth and I prefer to start with a pen drawing then add watercolor.