Why a quick review of the Leda Art Supply Sketchbook? Specifically the “Baby Leda Pocket Sketchbook” which is what I purchased, but seems to be the same paper and construction as the larger version?
The paper didn’t work out for me at all. It took three quick sketches to learn what I needed about this paper and I spell it out here for you so you can either decide I need a book like that and get one, or decide, nope that doesn’t work for me either.
There are a couple issues with this book for me—all related to the paper. As you’ll see in the first image if you read my handwritten text the paper has a smell. For most people this will be nominal. I’m sensitive to certain smells and it could be anything from the fibers they use for the paper to the sizing they might use. Even dry, the paper has a slight smell, I can only describe as chemical. Again, this is very slight and 99 percent of people won’t be bothered by this. (See additional comment below about watercolor.)
The pen moves easily over this almost plate surface paper. If you enjoy working with pigment liners and similar pens than you will like this paper.
In image two you’ll see the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen test. This is a very quick sketch with the pen skating the surface of the paper, pressure causing the darker areas around the eyes and mouth, and in some areas of the beard.
Because the paper is so smooth it took ink very well, and the ink lines are delightfully crisp.
However, if you rest a pen like this even for a moment as I did near the eyes, the ink from this pen begins to seep through.
For me using the PPBP is one of the great joys of my daily drawing practice so it is critical that I have a paper that doesn’t allow this ink to seep through. I use lots of lightweight papers that have opacity issues—that’s not a problem for me. Here I’m writing about ink seeping through the paper. That’s a problem I would prefer not to deal with. Life is short and there are lots of papers out there.
My next test was for other inks and also wet media. I tested wet media because the label says it is “Acid free paper takes pencil, ink, pen, pastel or charcoal and even a light watercolor wash.”
I found this not to be true. Even in areas where I put a light wash I found that the paint tended to degrade the paper. And it began to seep through. I then pushed the paper to get it to pill, which was easy. And then heavier applications of watercolor with minimal water continued the damage.
If you use little water in your watercolor application and you hit things once and move on, or use the watercolor only to shade small areas of your drawing you can probably get away with its use on this paper.
If you like a more varied approach from that to full on glazing pass on this book or you’ll feel chained to limited approaches as you move through it.
Additionally, even in scant water applications the paper slides along on this paper not really settling easily so drying time also becomes an issue and the longer the water stands on the paper the more degraded the paper becomes. Can you use it for light washes? Yep if you’re careful. Because of the ink seeping issues it isn’t worth it to me.
The other problem with wet media on this paper—the smell becomes even more noticeable. And that’s a definite deal breaker for me. It goes from being a slight and annoying smell that would give me a headache in about 30 minutes to an aggressive odor that puts me off in a couple minutes. Not a book I could work in the way I enjoy.
Construction of the Book
The construction of the book seems sturdy. The signatures are sewn and the book opens flat easily throughout. There are decorative (i.e., not structural) headbands at the head and tail of the spine.
The cover is a soft, pliable vinyl or plastic of some sort (the chemistry guy has left the building). The surface has texture on it and a debossed “Leda Art Supply” logo and name on the front. It’s pleasant to hold, though it might be difficult if you have sweaty hands or a humid climate. The back cover has the ubiquitous elastic that pulls over the head and tail to hold the cover closed.
Inside the back cover is a sweet gusseted pocket to hold notes, scraps, whatever.
It is the nicest commercially made pocket I’ve even seen in a sketchbook. The paper is double folded and the gussets are made of ribbon. It will hold up to some wear.
I purchased the Baby Leda Pocket Sketchbook. It’s 3.5 x 5.5 inches. That’s too small for me usually, but I didn’t want to buy a larger book I might not use, since I was ordering this online.
It contains 160 pages of 81 pound paper. The paper has a smooth plate finish, however you could also use graphite or color pencil on this paper.
The small book like the one I purchased sells for $12.94 but their site says it’s on sale now for $8.94. That seems about right. Since $12.94 or so will get you books with watercolor paper (albeit student grade) there seems no point in this book to me for my usage. You’ll find the larger book on their website. It contains the same paper.
Hope this information helps you make a decision about this book for yourself. Think what you’re going to use in your book and then making a decision will be easy.