Magma Sketchbook: Art & Illustration

We take a look at the new pocket edition of Magma Sketchbook: Art & Illustration.

We take a look at the new pocket edition of Magma Sketchbook: Art & Illustration.

Laurence King Publishing

Product: Magma Sketchbook: Art & Illustration (Pocket Edition)

Company: Laurence King Publishing


For over two decades, Laurence King Publishing has established a reputation for producing innovative, high-quality books and gifts for the visual thinker. This month, they're launching pocket-sized additions to their popular Magma Sketchbooks range, a series of sketchbooks tailored for all fields of creativity, from illustration and graphic design to fashion design and filmmaking. This review is for the Magma Sketchbook: Art & Illustration (Pocket Edition), made with input from acclaimed artist and Visual Communications tutor Catherine Anyango.

The other mini Magma Sketchbooks and their original counterparts. The edition in this review is on the
bottom right - Laurence King Publishing

First off, the colors and presentation are great. The whole range is attractively bound, with rounded corners and unusual color combinations that are quickly identifiable – the Magma Sketchbook: Art & Illustration book is dark turquoise and aqua with a peach-colored elastic band. After removing the covering paper strip, the only branding on the cover is the discreetly debossed ‘Magma Sketchbooks' on the back. This new mini edition is about 12.5 cm x 17 cm – somewhat non-standard dimensions, for the more spacious-pocketed artist, but still a comfortable size to handle.

Some of the guides contained in the book's back pages - Laurence King Publishing

The pages aren't all blank, but the small printed extras are unobtrusive and well-designed. At the start, there are some blank lines to add your own table of contents, and a simple calendar (year unspecified). Of the 128 pages, the final 16 contain various notes and reference lists. Some of this information is useful to have, like US and International Standard paper sizes, proportion guides and unit conversion charts; other info won't be useful for everyone, like mat-cutting and framing information, how to stretch paper and canvas, and paper sustainability notes. However, these pages only take up a tiny portion of the book, so you don't begrudge their inclusion.

The inside pages, with page numbers and two different paper stocks - Laurence King Publishing

Each page is numbered, which at first seems like an odd touch for a sketchbook, but soon feels like a genuinely useful detail if you want to turn your sketchbook into a body of organized reference material. There are 96 pages of versatile creamy off-white paper, and 16 pages at the back in thicker gray paper; the paper weights aren't specified, but are described as being suitable for pen, pencils, chalk, charcoal and pastels. The white paper is pleasant to the touch but not very thick; darker drawings show through on the back of the page, and anything more inky than a ballpoint pen will bleed slightly – ink pens or markers like Copics don't stand a chance on it. The gray paper stock is made of tougher stuff but is limited to a small section.

Testing the sketchbook's main white paper stock with Copic marker, felt pen, pencil, ballpoint pen and brush pen

One other downside is that the sketchbook doesn't stay open or lie flat very easily; it's a common issue with many popular sketchbook brands. The flexible covers and wider-than-normal dimensions help make up for any real-estate that's lost in the center, but it's still a shame to manhandle the book to scan it or keep it open.

and back views of the Magma Sketchbook: Art & Illustration (Pocket Edition) - Laurence King Publishing

Overall, the Magma Sketchbook: Art & Illustration is a very handsome and well-made item with some extra design touches that help distinguish it from other brands, though it's not perfect. Its thin paper stock means it's best used for light sketching in pencil and ballpoint, which will limit its usefulness for a hardcore messy sketcher or mixed media artist. For anyone who likes to try out novel and interesting sketchbooks, though, it's worth investing in.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Price: £8.95 / $9.95

Release date: 20th July 2015

Key features:

- 128 pages
- 168mm x 126mm
- Eco-friendly materials
- Two paper colors and weights
- Informative guides and glossaries at the back
- Expandable interior pocket

Related links

Find this Magma Sketchbook on the Laurence King gift shop
Browse the full range of Magma Sketchbooks
Visit Catherine Anyango's portfolio
See 3dtotal Publishing's sketching-related books
Join our Daily Sketching Workout group on Facebook

Fetching comments...

Post a comment