Thursday, February 20, 2014

A4 Portrait to A5 Landscape Sketchbook Mod

Sketchbook options in Singapore are somewhat limited, especially for those like me who like to vary their media, and who like the A5 landscape format. You can find decent A5 landscape watercolour sketchbooks such as Etcetra, Moleskine, and Strathmore, but the only A5 landscape format sketchbooks I've found for other media are either Daler Rowney's Original Classic Cachet sketchbook or the cheap stuff you get in neighbourhood bookstores, which are not of very good quality. Daler Rowney's Cachet A5 landscape sketchbook is also strictly for dry media. It buckles upon application of water, and quite badly. The only other decent option is the Sketch2book, a specialty sketchbook designed and produced by one of my friends, which is actually 2 sketchbooks in one - one side in portrait format and the other side in landscape (see below). It is a versatile sketchbook that takes ink, markers, light wash, pencils, and other dry media very well. However some might find it a little heavy (after all, it's 2 books with a hardcover), but apart from that, I love it. It is available through Arters, an online shop based in Singapore, which also stocks Daniel Smith watercolours and other sketchbooks.

Sketch2book, an A5-sized
landscape-cum-portrait format
conjoined sketchbook

Multimedia sketchbooks are not that difficult to find here, actually. It's just landscape format ones that are hard to find. Art Friend brought in some stock of Daler Rowney's hardcover Graduate series sketchbooks a while back, but the only landscape ones available were A4 size, and they were snapped up very quickly with no sign of replenishing stock. I actually like the Daler Rowney Graduate series, even though it is more towards the "student quality" grade. Despite that, I have found it to be suitable for dry media, markers, ink, and light watercolour wash. It's very versatile, but it doesn't come in A5 landscape.

At least not with some handiwork.

Daler Rowney Graduate A4 hardcover landscape sketchbook

Just a few days back, an idea occurred to me. I had a spare unused Daler Rowney A4 paperback portrait sketchbook lying around. What if I cut it down the middle? I'd get 2 landscape sketchbooks! So, that's what I tried today, and I took photos of the process. Here they are:

First, get yourself one of these. One of the
best things about this sketchbook is
they're very cheap.

Open it up and remove the staple binding.

The sketchbook is quite thick, so it might
not be advisable to put the whole thing
through the cutter. I separated the sheets
and cut a few at a time.

Hold the sketchbook firmly as you chop it
in half. Don't let it slip or you will get a
curved edge.

Aaand.... you get 2 halves!

Each half is a landscape A5 sketchbook!

Now to bind the pages back. If you have a long-arm stapler, good for you.
If you don't, get a sturdy stapler and lay the sketchbook flat like this
on a thick piece of corrugated cardboard (or a few layers of it).

Align the stapler head with the spine, and punch the staples right through.
***DO NOT try to do this flat on your tabletop - unless you want holes in
your table!!

The result should look like this. My alignment is a bit off though.

Close the staples to finish the bind.

Completed modified sketchbook.

Wait. There's 2 of them!

So that's how you do it! Two A5
landscape sketchbooks for the price
of one A4 portrait one!

Halved A4 portrait sketchbook compared with A5 portrait sketchbook.
Both are readily available from Art Friend, but you'll have to cut
the A4 one yourself if you want it in A5 landscape.

The Graduate sketchbook may not have archival paper, but it is acid free. That's good enough for most of us. If you find it flimsy because of its soft cover, you can always bring a clipboard out, or make your own hardcover jacket. I haven't tried that yet, but may do so sometime later.

One more important thing to note is that the Graduate soft cover sketchbooks comes in 2 different paper weights - 140 and 160 gsm. The ones I use are 160 gsm and can be identified by their matte cover (the 140 gsm ones have a glossy cover). Actually there are 4 different paper weights in this range, which you can check out at their website. The whole range is not available in Singapore, unfortunately, so I just have to make do with what I can get. The A5 portrait one is only about $3 here, and the A4 can't cost much more. This is way cheaper than a Stillman and Birn, which costs about 6-8 times more, and even cheaper than Moleskines which will cost 10 times more for less pages of watercolour paper. Those on a budget (like students) might find this a good alternative, especially for more casual work. The only thing you will need to cut the sketchbooks is access to a paper cutter. Of course, you can easily do it sheet by sheet without one, but that's a lot more troublesome.

The following are some samples of artworks done using the A5 portrait 160 gsm one:

Copyright © Favian Ee  2013
Drawn with ink and watercolour, watercolour pencils,
water-soluble graphite, felt-tip pens/markers, and gel pen.

Copyright © Favian Ee  2013
Drawn with ink, felt-tip pen, and water-soluble graphite pencils

Copyright © Favian Ee  2013
Drawn with Faber Castell Pitt pen markers

Hope you found this helpful!

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