In this Hahnemuhle watercolor book review I’ll show you 5 reasons why I think you should buy it :)
Once upon a time, I saw a picture of beautiful architectural paintings. All of these paintings were made in a square watercolour book. So naturally, my brain decided to ignore the fact that skills are the main reason for successful paintings. In my delusion I thought in order to achieve something similar, I must buy the exact same supplies! No sooner said than done. One of the few options available in my region was the Hahnemüle toned watercolour book. After purchasing and using it, I realised others should buy the Hahnemühle Watercolor Book as well!
Hahnemühle's toned watercolor book: What do you get?
According to their website, Hahnemühle designed this watercolour book having urban sketchers in mind. This is why the 30 pages (60 sides in total), will minimize the reflection of the sun. The paper has a fine grain on each side, making it similar to classical watercolour paper. Each page has rounded corners and is acid-free. The book comes in a few sizes: A5 landscape, A6 landscape and 14 x 14 cm square size. You can choose between grey or beige toned paper. It has a red divider and an elastic band. The watercolour book costs between €12,- to €20,- depending on size and where you buy the product.
I choose to buy the 14 x 14 cm beige toned watercolour book. It’s what this review is based on.
Hahnemuhle watercolor book review: First impression
The book itself feels luxurious. The front and back are covered with beautiful linen fabric, which nicely complements the colour of the toned paper. The elastic band is a nice light colour against the darker linen. I like that it’s not like one of those boring black covers. Aesthetically this book is right up my alley.
The book has a bound bookmark which is a bright red. I don’t understand why they didn’t make it the same colour as the elastic band. I don’t like the subtle, elegant, earthy colour of the book with the red so I tucked it away, out of sight.
The paper is beautifully beige toned. I was worried that the beige paper for watercolour would be weird to use. You normally preserve the white of the paper to get different tones of colour. Toned paper would defeat the whole purpose of watercolour, wouldn’t it? Upon opening the sketchbook, I noticed that the paper wasn’t as dark as I thought it would be. If you’re used to regular tan toned paper for pencils, you might know what I’m talking about. That kind of paper can get pretty dark. This paper, however, is a lot lighter.
I placed a regular piece of printer paper on top of Hahnemühle’s watercolour book to compare the colours. The two books below that are regular beige toned sketchbooks.
The purpose of Hahnemühle’s toned paper is to give a nice overall warmth. It’s not so much about making your highlights pop (which is pretty hard due to the colour), but more about having a ready to go natural background. The toned paper is also a nice complementary colour for blues. Having it peek through some of the paint will give your painting that extra little boost.
Their website says that each side of the page has texture. Meaning you can paint on both sides in contrary to single pieces of watercolour paper, where only one side is made to paint on. Let’s find out if that’s true.
This is a watercolour book after all, so I started by making a watercolour painting. I skipped the first page (yes, fear of the first page is actually a thing!) and went on to the second page. First thing I did was swatch my paint. I layered the water pretty thick and was surprised how well it could take it.
The paper did start to buckle pretty early on, but again I did go heavy on the water. When I started my painting I made a few mistakes. I started scrubbing and to my surprise, the paint did come off for most of it. I also layered 4-5 times but the paper took it pretty well. Eventually, it started to pill after I rubbed it too hard but that was to be expected.
After finishing the watercolour painting I moved on to the next one: a landscape with gouache. I made this on the first page of the book. I did the sky with watercolours. The other side of the gouache painting has the swatches (in the form of eggs) of my first painting.
When painting the sky of the landscape, I noticed ghosting of the eggs. But after a better look, it wasn’t ghosting. It was as if the paint buckled on only the places where I painted the eggs. After the sky was dry, I noticed that not only the places were buckled, the paint did not adhere as well on the places where the eggs were: now I have floating eggs in the sky.
The website says that both sides have a watercolour texture on them. Meaning you should be able to paint on both sides of the paper. I think the reason why its ‘ghosting’, is because the paper is only 200 g/m2. I’m used to at least 250 gsm, preferably 300 and have not come across this problem yet.
Knowing now that there is some ghosting, I decided to use the left side of a spread for pencils and swatches. The paper takes well to graphite. It does have a slight texture but I love to draw on watercolour paper anyway.
The paper takes well to coloured pencils. I’m using the wax-based Prisma Colour pencils. I prefer these pencils on smoother paper, but I’m not complaining.
Hahnemuhle watercolor book review: is it worth a buy?
Short answer: Yes! I do love this sketchbook. Even when I don’t use it, it’s a beautiful book to have in my studio. Its size is nice and small, so it easily fits in your bag if you’re an urban sketcher. The pages do buckle pretty quickly and you can’t layer a lot on each side of the same page. If you use lots of water and a lot of layering I wouldn’t recommend it to you. I think you might be better off with thicker paper.
5 reasons why you should buy Hahnemühle's toned watercolor book:
- Reasonable price
- Nice and compact size
- Beautiful design
- Handles colors well
- Can be used for mixed media
If you intend to use this book with different kinds of media like gouache and coloured pencils, then I would recommend it. I use it as a mixed media book. It all depends on what you’re going to do with it. The original price is 17,95 but I got it 3 euro cheaper (yay for sales). I think this is a reasonable price but I wouldn’t want to pay more than that.
I hope this review made you help decide whether or not Hahnemühle’s toned watercolour book is worth a buy. If you have any specific questions about this book you can send me a message or dm me on Instagram!
p.s If your wondering: I have yet to make a similar painting to one of those architectural paintings.. *sigh*