Monday, August 24, 2015

Home-made Watercolour Sketchbooks

What inspired me to go through all the trouble to make my own watercolour sketchbooks? It's silly looking back at it. I was packing my sketching kit for my upcoming trip and thought that lugging a whole Moleskine watercolour journal would be a bit too much, so I figured since I had a sheet of Strathmore Imperial paper lying around, I might as well use that and make my own sketchbook. I didn't need a whole Moleskine's worth of pages after all, I reasoned. But when I discovered that I would only be able to get 13 A5-sized leafs (26 pages) out of one sheet, I realised I probably needed to make 2 books and bring only one out at a time.

And so I did.

I didn't take photos of the process, unfortunately, but here are some photos I did snap after making the first one.

Double rubber bands. I forgot to include them for the 2nd book.

This is how thin the books are. This one uses 300 gsm Saunders Waterford.

The cover is made of 1 folded card and another couple of cards pasted over the outside.

The pages are not sewn but bound by thread so they can be removed and bound after the trip.

Back page is about 1/2 page. Can be used for testing watercolours.

This is the second sketchbook in progress. This one uses the Strathmore Imperial.

The 2nd cards haven't been glued yet. I totally forgot to put in the rubber bands for this one.
In the end, the 2 sketchbooks weigh more than 1 Moleskine. However, since I'm bringing only one around at a time, my purpose is still fulfilled.

I'm Going on an Adventure!

I've barely finished my sketches from my Hong Kong trip in April, Bandung trip in May, the Urban Sketchers Symposium in July, and my mini personal project over Singapore's Golden Jubilee weekend, and I'm about to embark on another trip! Whereabouts? Aotearoa - the Land of the Long White Cloud. A.k.a Middle Earth, a.k.a. New Zealand. This will be my last major trip in a while, I expect.

I started putting together my sketch kit a few weeks back. I told myself that since I'll be going on a coach tour and staying at a different hotel every night or every few nights, I ought to keep things compact and light. And I'm not a light packer by nature, cos I tend to pack for contingencies. Then it happened. Again.


I guess that's the "packer" in Sketchpacker. And I haven't even included my marker set in the photo.

Why so many things, you ask. Well, mainly because I draw in different styles. One of those styles happens to be the comic style I use for my Sketchpacker comic stories, and it uses a specific set of tools, namely felt-tip markers and pens (top row and 2nd row middle). It also requires A5 portrait format paper, hence 2x Daler Rowney Graduate sketchbooks (bottom left).

But I'm going to New Zealand! Land of Hobbits and Elves! I can't visit the place without decent watercolour paper and materials! So in an attempt to lighten my daypack ever-so-slightly, I made 2 of my own watercolour sketchbooks (bottom right) using one sheet of watercolour paper each (1 sheet of Strathmore Imperial which I've had for a long time, and 1 sheet of Saunders Waterford). I'll be carrying only 1 about and leaving the other in the luggage till the first is finished.

But watercolour paper is terrible for pencilwork! I found a landscape A5 Daler Rowney Graduate sketchbook, which I made by chopping an A4 one into half, sitting on the shelf.

But what if I need something palm-sized? So the Perfect Sketchbook and the Seawhite A6 landscape (middle right) came to be in the kit - the first for watercolour, the second for dry media.

The 2 small A6 notebooks at the bottom left are from Muji for writing notes.

I'm such a SketchPACKER... I bet Bilbo didn't bring as many things on his adventure... And that's not mentioning my necessities, clothing, SLR + 2 lenses, and an Irish whistle. Packed in to 2 separate bags. I must be crazy...

P.S. When a couple of friends found out I was going to NZ, they realised why I was bringing so many materials. Much to draw (I hope!) and not much chance to replenish materials. I'm vindicated!