The good folks over at SketchyNotebook sent us over two samples of their awesome new version of the original Kickstarter project to review here on the site and not only is it a really great and practical concept, but its also a great quality notebook. Lets take a closer look and see what all the fuss is about.
The concept with the SketchyNotebook is that its a high quality notebook that doesn’t force you into one type of page, whether it be ruled, blank, or grids. Its all of those popular standards PLUS about 9 other options all available in the same notebook and as many of each page as you want, until you run out of pages that is. These are A5 notebooks which means that they measure about 5.83″ x 8.27″ or 148mm x 210mm. The two that I was sent have hard black and white covers respectively with the black cover being a glossy leather-like finish while the white cover is a matte finish that almost feels like a newspaper to the touch, but both are definitely sturdy hard covers. Each has 240 blank 80gsm pages that actually tear out incredibly easily and cleanly. They pull out from the center of the notebook but almost like the same way a notepad with glue binding at the top rips off super easy and clean. Personally I’ve never seen or used a notebook that had the pages come out like this and its an amazing feature that can easily get lost with the main and defining feature of this notebook which is the interchangeable ruling format you can use on each page. The black and white checkered pattern you see in the photo above is how you implement the format that you wan’t for each page.
Each of the 6 SketchyNotebook template slides (for a total of 12 templates, one pattern on each side) are printed in black on a white surface, and the plastic that they are printed on is about half the thickness of your average credit card. They are very sturdy and not to thick, and the obvious benefit of the high contrast black on white printing makes them easily visible through the 80gsm paper in the notebooks so they can act as your guide for whatever type of paper you need for the project you are working on .
Once you put the template behind your sheet of paper, the pressure of having your hand on the paper is usually enough to have the pattern show through clearly, although there were a few times that I found myself deliberately smoothing out or pressing down on a certain part of my page just to get a more clear view of the lines, girds or whatever other pattern I was working with. The variety of patterns available is great, ranging from standard rulings for writing or drawing like lines, girds, and isometric grid as well as storyboard like setups for doing UX work or even sketching out the design of a room with 3 dimensional perspective which is about 100x beyond my artistic abilities so you won’t see any samples here.
Here is the complete set of all 6 SketchyNotebook plastic templates, in this case you see the one familiar grid style template that I showed in use in the picture above. These are definitely for those of you who are more advanced than I, with my silly meeting notes and just general jotting down of ideas.
Here is the flipside of each of the SketchyNotebook template slides. Like I said, 12 templates in all from each of these double sided plastic inserts.
The above photo is the stack of all 6 template insert slides and the notes printed on the corner of each. It gives you technical details like the spacing for the lines and grids, or the aspect ratio of some of the emulated screen diagrams that you see. These weren’t just some ill-thought out templates, they are highly functional and were obviously given a lot of thought so they could be useful on many levels.
Above is my embarrassingly simplistic attempt at anything remotely artistic with the grid template on the right and a quick writing sample with a fountain pen using the ruled template on the left. Its important to note that although the paper is definitely fountain pen friendly, its not really usable on both sides due to the nature of the functionality that this paper has to provide. If the paper was so heavy that fountain pen ink didn’t show through on the other side, then the templates likely wouldn’t show through either. Overall the SketchyNotebook paper did have a relatively slow drying time for ink, but I was happy to see that with my Pelikan Edelstein Topaz ink, there was no feathering and the ink was pretty well behaved. The SketchyNotebook is a really innovative approach to multi-format notebooks, and on top of that unique functionality, the notebook at the core of this offering would be a great standalone notebook minus the templates. Check out the SketchyNotebook page and order one up for yourself to see how great they really are.