Written by Pedro Alves, Archtect & Urban Sketcher, Portugal  – Lunch Break Sketches

I knew this sketchbook was special just because of the fact it has grey toned paper but I fell in love with it as soon as I got my hands on it. The anthracite coloured cover resembling dark wood is the best thing I’ve ever seen in a sketchbook and I’ve seen lot’s of them. Besides it’s great look, it feels even better to the touch. Pure magic…

Here’s my biggest surprise since I’m a experienced sketcher: The absolutely fantastic Grey Book by German manufacturers Hahnemühle. With 40 sheets / 80 pages featuring 120 gsm grey toned paper, the Grey Book is slim and an ideal companion if you are on the road, travelling or just going by on your daily life. Bound in several layers and thread stitched, all the pages seat solidly and allow the artist to work on two pages, across the centre seam, just like it should be.

But look isn’t everything so let’s move on to what really matters, the paper quality. Besides my sketching kit that I mentioned in my previous review (here), for my sketches in this one I used my trusted Lamy Joy pen, a white Caran d’ache Prismalo colour pencil, a bullet shaped Posca white pen and sometimes other colours if handy.

I use this particular sketchbook for those quick sketches that don’t require much information besides the action itself and their protagonists. I find this one perfect for sketching people around me and their actions while studying lighting at the same time. The tone of the paper is just right allowing me use highlights as well as darker shades, giving my sketches that extra depth and volume using only two pens.

I thought I was going to be a bit afraid at the beginning of every page, being a different and special sketchbook and all, but it turned out quite the opposite. I see this as an opportunity to experience a new language and materials that I usually don’t use and that makes me very comfortable using it. There’s a saying in Portugal that every artist think of when they stumble with fear before a clean sheet of paper: The white paper drama…

…well, you can cast your fears aside on this one. THE GREY BOOK invites you so just let go and enjoy the ride. Once in a while I used craft paper for these attempts but after the Grey Book I feel there’s no turning back.

The final verdict is quite simple: This is by far the best sketchbook I’ve tried. No other gave me more joy and surprises than this one. And I’m just scratching the surface, it will take me a while to explore all it’s possibilities. If you’re an artist who uses a sketchbook on a daily basis, think no more and go get one of these. Well, get a whole box of these, you won’t regret it I’m sure. This masterpiece sets the bar way up high and deserves it’s place as one of the best sketchbooks ever made.Final score: 5 / 5

Aside from the review, this particular sketchbook is now one of my most treasured possessions as it contains the last sketches I did of my uncle before he passed away. All this is dedicated to him…

Pedro Alves