It is the time to give my review on Fabriano Venezia Sketchbook.
The first thing that someone can notice is the beautiful covers that are indeed very well made. The binding is very good and allows the books to open completely flat.
The next thing is that these books are larger than the equivalent sketchbooks from other brands. Their large one is larger than A4 and so does the smaller one that is larger than A5 size. See them below compared with some other of my sketchbooks.
Below is the small one compared with my Strathmore 500 series mixed media that is A5 at its size ( true A5)
And below is the large one compared with my Neochart sketchbook that is a true A4. The Fabriano is by far larger.
It is great to have a larger working surface BUT it is not convenient at all when it comes the time to scan your work, especially if you try to scan the larger one. It exceeds the size of the scanning surface and so if your sketch or painting is spread on both pages and close to the edges of the pages, then the scanning has to be in three parts.
As you understand this is tricky and time consuming because it is impossible not to have a distorted image in the middle part, where the binding is.
Same for the smaller one that exceeds the size of A5 and so it is larger than an A4 page when it is wide open.
The A5 one can be scanned in one piece ( if you don’t paint or sketch close to the edges of the paper).
Lets go to the paper now.
These sketchbooks are made with Fabriano Academia paper that some sort of cartridge paper. It has a nice white colour and a slight vellum texture that works good with pencil, gel pen and felt tip markers. When it comes to dip pens the ink tends to feather on the surface of the paper.
This paper buckles considerably on wetter washes ( I’m not talking about super wet washes.. average ones) and with an awkward way in my opinion. It holds for a while the colour and then suddenly .. it collapses completely.
See below what I”m talking about.
It becomes soft and starts leaving a kind of ( how to call this now? ) .. a think like residue that tangles in the bristles of the brush. Like piling but not exactly.. like tiny wet bread crumbs. ( that’s it .. I found how it looks like!!).
When the paper dries becomes stiff and remains buckled.
See below what I’m talking about.
It also has the tendency to suck the colour and make it look faded when dried making also very difficult to achieve clear lines.. ( the colour spreads on the paper’s surface).
See below how it end up my attempt to sketch a snail. This sketch is tiny about 7×7 cm and I didn’t use that much colour neither any sort of very wet wash. The paper though buckled considerably again. ( look at the right side of the image- scanned at 300 dpi) and my sketch looks blurry because the colour spread and sucked by the paper.
The paper doesn’t seem to have the same quality on all pages. Some pages performed better than others ( not that I painted the whole sketchbook of course. But that was the impression I got from the 8 pages that I sketched till now.
Below are some of the sketches I did on the large one. ( I didn’t bother to sketch anything else on the smaller one).
I needed countless layers of colour in order to make them look as they look like. Layer after layer after layer and waiting for quite long the paper to dry in order to remove the residue with an erasure and then apply the next layer of colour.
I did these sketches at my studio. but I wouldn’t have that much time if I worked outdoors, I mean to wait whole hours for the paper to dry.
On some of the sketches below it was impossible to achieve any kind of flat wash.
Conclusion: This paper has definitely problem with its sizing.
I have worked on other cartridge papers too, in fact one of my favourite papers is the W&N Cartridge Medium paper and none of these was so unpredictable as this paper is.
In order to conclude and finish my review.
These are very well bind sketchbooks larger than their equivalent on market ( something that can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on what are the needs of each artist).
The paper that are made of is not that good though, and has sizing problems. It buckles with an awkward way, it stays buckled, and sucks the colours making sketching and painting a tiring and time consuming work.
I would recommend these sketchbooks for the excellent binding, hard covers etc but not for the paper that performs purely and unpredictably.
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