Sketching on Gridded Paper

February 27, 2013

130106_EMangriddedpaperLeft: Sketch on gridded paper using the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. (This is a character actor on "Perry Mason.")

A lot of my journal pages have bits of gridded paper collaged on to them. Alternately I have a lot of sketches I do on gridded paper which I then tear or cut out and collage onto journal pages.

I'm always getting questions about what type of gridded paper I use and why I do this.

As to why—well that's simple, just because. Because I can. I really like pattern on paper (big hint: I like to prepaint backgrounds on to lots of my journal pages and this is just an extension of that).

But also I think it goes back to being a child and keeping journals in lined "diaries" and other such commercial books because my allowance and experience didn't yet stretch to quality art paper alternatives. 

I also like the way there is a "vibration" between positive and negative spaces when you draw on gridded paper. You essentially have several routes to take. Leave the "outline," paint the background, paint the interior. Whatever you do some of the grid remains and influences the perception of the whole, and I love it. It's one of the reasons I sometimes do entire journals on gridded paper. You can see one here, my 2009 International Fake Journal Month Journal.

So working on gridded or lined paper is like comfort food for me.

And when that paper is smooth and slick like the Quattro 8 x 8 grid padded paper it's just heaven to work on with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.

I have several pads of this paper in different sizes, some squarish, some narrow. This sketch was on a sheet trimmed down to 8.5 x 11 inches for a special project.

My stock of gridded paper doesn't end there. I have standard office supply issue gridded pads which are toothier and great for pencil work. Recently I discovered a delightful Japanese notebook at Wet Paint: "Life Vermillion" is what it says on the cover. It's small about 4 x 6 inches and has the most delightful red grid lines. 

There is a vast range of Japanese school notebooks that I use—you can find a selection at Wet Paint and some others at JetPens. All of the papers have some interesting line or grid pattern that is fun to sketch over. All are relatively lightweight paper so they are easily collaged onto other pages.

Also on hand I have some soft-covered Moleskine notebooks with tear away gridded pages; some Clairefontaine gridded page notebooks; and Clairefontaine science/lab gridded pages. (I usually don't tear the pages out of the two Clairefontaine books but use them as is. And they are smooth papers that are lovely for ink brush or pen.)

If you would like to see how I incorporate some of these gridded papers and sketches on gridded paper please take a look at the video flip through of my completed "Weirdo Journal."

In the meantime, keep your eyes open for gridded note paper and booklets that you might enjoy incorporating into your sketching and journaling. Just because you can.

  1. Reply

    Hi Roz! I think your 2009 fake journal is one of my favorites. Did you have to use anything special to get the watercolor to stick to the pages? I have a Rite in the Rain notebook that I’ve been working in on and off and the colors come out really light. At first they didn’t stick at all, but I added a drop of dish detergent to my water and that seemed to help them stick. I’m using Daniel Smith watercolors. Thanks!

    Oh P.S. I love the sound of those pages too! : )

  2. Reply

    this is a beautiful drawing!

  3. Reply

    Jill, thanks. My 2009 Fake journal is one of my favorite fake journals.

    I didn’t do anything to the pages in order to paint on it. It doesn’t respond like regular paper, but beads up in places and mostly just runs off which I utilized by tilting the book and letting it run (into my lap as most of the sketches were done in a car in the spring weather).

    I was using my Schmincke Pan watercolors which are factory prepared pans. I did that because I wanted to test them and they worked fine. Oh, and because they had the translucent orange I loved so well (DS has one now too). I needed it for all the turkeys I’d be sketching that spring.

    I believe the journal, which isn’t made by Rite In the Rain might be formulated differently. That might explain the ease I had and the difficulty you experienced. Also Schminke pans might be a little more “grippy.”

    Either way, it is still a delicate book because there is no sinking in at all of the paints. I believe I could submerge it in water for 30 minutes and it would all be washed off.

    I used a dip pen and Ziller Glossy Black Acrylic ink and even though the book had little usage—only taken out to a site once a day for sketching and not many have read it in the original since—there is a lot of rub-off of the acrylic ink on to the opposite page, so it didn’t even want to hold that.

    I used Rite in the Rain paper for making tracking maps when I was training the girls and when I was teaching tracking and I always just used pencil on it, didn’t like the other media on it. I remember once painting on it and not getting much saturation of color either. But that was a long while ago and not an involved test. Still I think the difference is problem in the difference of the paper manufacturing.

    Good luck with your experiments!

    (Yep, you gotta love those crackly pages!)

  4. Reply

    Thanks Ellen, I’m actually very pleased with this drawing too. It’s a little more deliberate (and slowly drawn) than some of my portraits. I can actually remember the putting down of the pen and twisting it into shapes, and being oh so careful with the hairlines. As my note says it wasn’t tilted enough, but it did end up looking like the actor and I did RESIST the urge to fiddle, so I think that was HUGE.

    Thanks for the kind comment.

  5. Reply

    Jill, I just thought of something else, if you go to this link and look at the turkey sketches I was doing you can see what I mean about thickness of paint. I was using the paint very heavily in the main bird and you can see this also in the dark stripes across the bird on the right bottom. I was diluting the watercolor on the top of the pan by beginning a painting session by pre-wetting all the pans. When I got to a color there was a rich pool of paint, more like ink, and I wouldn’t use any more water with it.

    You might have used water levels suitable to regular paper, but the water you were using might have been too much for this paper.

    For instance, on that bird on the right, WhenI did the lighter paint I didn’t pick up more paint which I had diluted I brushed it out from color already on the page using no more water. And then when it was dry I added the darker strokes.

    You might want to make color puddles (if you don’t work in pans) and let them evaporate a bit before you dip into them with a fairly dry brush. See if that works better.

    But I still think it’s probably the difference in the two papers.

  6. Reply

    Thanks Roz, I will try to use a heavier application of paint and see what happens. I am using the Schminke box, I just subbed some of the pans with the Daniel Smith in some colors and I have a couple of the old Schminke colors still in there. Will play around and see what I get. I may have to look around for one of those Alvin journals. Thanks again for your thoughtful reply!

  7. Reply

    Jill, that sounds like a plan. Wet Paint carries some of the Alvin journals. Just a heads up, the hardcover journal they carry doesn’t have the same page pattern that the paperback journal I used for 2009’s fake journal has. I like the one I used best. I don’t know if they make that version in hardcover if that matters to you, but I’m mentioning it so you don’t think you’ll get the hardcover and get a sad surprise. You might like that pattern better, but just so you know.

  8. Reply

    Thanks for the heads up. I will look for the paperback version as I like the idea of the lines and grids. : )

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