Review: Strathmore 400 series watercolour 300gsm paper sketchbooks


Time for my next review..
This time I’ll give a review for Strathmore 400 series Watercolour 300 gsm paper sketchbooks hardbound. I recently bought two of them in two different sizes. A4 portrait and A5 landscape.

These sketchbooks are exactly at the size they are marketed for. Exact A4 and A5.

Have a look below at some pictures where I compare them with similar size sketchbooks.

Here is the large one compared with the large Fabriano Venezia


And here is the landscape A5 one compare with the A5 Strathmore 500 series portrait sketchbook. Exactly the same size, just different orientation binding.

The binding is strong but easy to open flat.

The paper is CP 300 gsm in a bit warmer colour than the 500 series mixed media paper. This paper IS NOT 100% cotton but it is acid free ( according to what Strathmore says of course- I’m not a chemist to confirm their claims.. ).

Below is a comparison between the two papers. Scanned at 150 dpi. I want to believe that it is visible the difference of the colour. ( the texture is not relevant the one is vellum the other CP).


Its sides are slightly different, ( but very slightly). Bellow are both sides of the same page scanned at 300 dpi and a bit enhanced on GIMP in order to see the difference in the texture. This is not the actual colour of the paper.

First is the front side second image is the back side.




The paper is not very toothy so it can work nicely with pens and dip pens, but is toothy enough to work nicely with pencil too. It doesn’t buckle at all and dries completely flat and it has a strong sizing that allows you to lift colours too.

Below are the same samples page before and after lifting colour.


I hope that you can see the texture and the slightly warm white colour of the paper.

I made some sketches on my new sketchbooks but I admit that I CP papers are not my piece of cake. I didn’t have though any problems, the paper is strong, doesn’t buckle, dries flat, holds the colour in place and can give easily even washes with less layers of colour. As it doesn’t buckle I could paint on both sides of the same page.

For comparison reasons I painted the same flower that I previously painted on the Fabfiano Venezia sketchbook. I’ll post both sketches from these different sketchbooks side by side to compare the results.

Below are the two sketches of the same flower.First on the Strathmore and then on the Fabriano. Same technique same colours.



Lilly- Watercolour Sketch for Fabriano Venezia Sketchbook review- Artist Marialena Sarrris- 6-2016


Below are another two sketches that I made in the large Strathmore 400 series book .

Pear Sketch-Watercolour Sketch- Artist Marialena Sarris


Coffee Pot with Grapes- Watercolour Sketch- Artist Marialena Sarris- 2-11-2017

Conclusion. These sketchbooks are specially made for watercolours but can be worked with other media too. ( with gouache and markers probably that I don’t own though to show you any samples).
They have very good and strong binding, they open flat and the paper, though it isn’t 100% cotton is strong enough to withstand considerable abuse.

Personally I’m not that big fun of CP paper, but this paper is of the average kind of CP so I can deal with it. It would be perfect for me though if Strathmore offered a HP option paper with similar features.

But ok.. I’ll deal with it.. ( sketchbooks is the thing that I consume faster than everything else after all).

Thank you for reading my review.


3 thoughts on “Review: Strathmore 400 series watercolour 300gsm paper sketchbooks

  1. This is very insightful review Maria. I am wondering do you prefer to work with Strathmore 500 or 400?

    I am also curious on why you prefer hot pressed paper as opposed to cold pressed paper?

    Thanks again,


    • Hi Lena. I prefer to work with the Strathmore 500 Mixed Media paper which is a lightweight 190 gsm.all cotton paper. I have reviewed this paper here.
      I prefer HP or Mixed Media smooth papers because I work with layers and with a lot of details that are not that easy to achieve on the slightly rougher surface of the Cold Pressed papers.
      Keep in mind though that not all HP papers are equally smooth and neither all CP are slightly rough. Some are more than others like the Strathmore 400 watercolour paper above. But this is a very nice paper to work on, that doesn’t have also the repeated machine pattern that some CP papers have. This paper is great for looser painting style and for landscapes.

      • Thank you for your kind reply Maria. I’ll keep that in mind, haven’t experimented with Strathmore papers in depth.


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