It’s time to try something different in the search for the perfect sketchbook. I want one that’s less a finished art piece, and more a combination of doodles and sketches and just playing with the media. More like a true sketchbook, really. My thoughts were if the paper was thinner, and there was more of it for the price, I’d get a little more out of it and be more willing to put whatever on the page. I’ve had a plain Plain Classic Moleskine Journal before a few times, and I kind of got this effect, so I thought I would try out the LEUCHTTURM1917 A5 Plain Journal.
There is a LEUCHTTURM1917 Pen Loop attached, this is sold separately (more on that at the bottom of the review).
It’s got 249 pages, which is 145 more pages than the sketchbook I have been using recently: the Moleskine Art Collection Sketchbook, Large. Assuming you can get each sketchbook for around $22 (that seems about my average at shops) you’re getting an extra sketchbook and a half of room in the LEUCHTTURM1917, right? Well, kinda.
The LEUCHTTURM1917 journal is pretty nice. It has the things you want in a hardcover sketchbook / journal: a layflat construction, elastic band to keep it shut, back pocket, two whole ribbon bands so you can keep your spot in two places, and the normal personal information slot on the front page so you can be contacted if you lose your book.
One of the extras I’ve never seen before in this journal is the table of contents. It’s three pages long. I don’t really intend to use it, but it’s there. You could also use it as tester pages for new pens and paints.
This thing also has page numbers on each page in the journal. Again, that’s pretty neat, and could help with remembering where things are in the book (as well as the Table of Contents I suppose!). In regards to size, the LEUCHTTURM1917 is nearly the same height (8.25”) as the Moleskine Art Collection Sketchbook, but it’s nearly .5” inches wider than the Moleskine at 5.8” or so. The extra width is really nice, and feels more natural.
Now for the paper: it’s great. It’s got a nice fine tooth, enough to catch pencil without being too much, and certain materials will glide across the page. It’s honestly great for both pencil and ink, handling most things I’ve thrown at it. Platinum Carbon Black Ink would feather, Noodlers Black Ink does not seem to feather at all, and every single one of my pens from Pentel to Micron to Zebra all seem to work great. You do run into an issue with the pages showing a lot of ghosting to the other side and see through to the next page as well.
It’s 80 gsm paper, thinner than some standard printer papers and Rhodia Webnotebooks, which are around 90 gsm, or the Moleskine Art Collection sketchbook I mentioned above which is 165 gsm. Below you can see the drawing that is behind the page above:
And that behavior continues through the whole book if you want to use ink:
This is the single largest issue I have with the book. You can also have issues with ink bleeding through the paper, though this was more rare. This will depend on your ink you use, and how saturated the paper gets.
The more I’ve used the book, the more I’ve come to terms with the see through and ghosting. The paper is so good with pens, ink, and pencil that I can look past it, while still wishing it wasn’t there. This is probably about as close to what I wanted above from a sketchbook as I’m going to get.
I’ll continue using this sketchbook for now and see if this is “the one”. I doubt this will be the last sketchbook I purchase, but maybe it will be! I’m gonna give the LEUCHTTURM1917 A5 Plain Journal 4 out of 5 Zaffino Crazy Face Franks.
P.S. The pen loops from LEUCHTTURM1917 are pretty handy and last through the use of the journal (I’ve used one to hold an Apple Pencil on my iPad case for 4 years and it hasn’t budged). If you are looking for a solution for carrying just one pen or pencil on you, this is honestly a great choice.