Top 5 Best Journal for Watercolor: Top Picks for Artists and Hobbyists

We independently select all products and services. If you click through links we provide, Mighty Deals may earn a commission.

Watercolor journaling combines the creativity of painting with the personal touch of keeping a diary, empowering artists and diarists alike to capture their experiences in vibrant color. These journals are specifically designed to withstand the moisture and painting techniques of watercolors without warping or bleeding through pages. They offer a portable canvas that allows for the spontaneous expression of thoughts and ideas wherever inspiration may strike.

The key features when choosing a watercolor journal are the paper quality, size, and durability. The paper must be heavy enough – typically expressed in pounds or grams per square meter (gsm) – to prevent warping and hold the watercolor well. Portability might also influence your decision, as a compact journal is easier to carry on the go. Binding strength matters too, as a journal that lays flat when open provides an inviting surface to paint on.

We meticulously reviewed several journals tailored for watercolor artists to ascertain those that provide the best canvas for your artistic journey. We observed resilience to water, ease of transport, paper texture, and the ability of each journal to lay flat. Our findings point you to the best watercolor journal for your creative endeavors, ensuring your artwork and notes remain vivid and intact.

Top Watercolor Journals

In our search for the best watercolor journals, we’ve carefully selected options that cater to artists of all levels. Whether you’re a beginner seeking to practice your skills or a seasoned painter requiring high-quality paper, we understand the importance of a durable, reliable journal. Our choices reflect the journals that not only withstand wet media but also offer a pleasant texture, binding that lays flat, and papers that resist warping or pilling. Discover our top picks to let your creativity flow onto the page.

1. Insparea Watercolor Journal

We find this journal ideal for artists who want the convenience of painting anywhere with a compact and comprehensive watercolor kit.


  • The color selection provides versatility and richness for a wide variety of scenes
  • Its portability makes it a breeze to carry for plein-air adventures
  • The inclusion of a water brush and pigment liner rounds out the necessities for creating detailed artwork


  • The number of pages may feel limited for prolific artists
  • Watercolor palettes might vary, leading to inconsistencies for those who buy multiple journals
  • For beginners, the quality and options might feel overwhelming compared to basic starters

In our recent experience with the Insparea Watercolor Journal, the portability was a standout feature. It’s small enough to fit in most bags, but the binding feels durable, securing the high-quality paper impressively. Whether sitting in a city park or traveling to a beach, this journal didn’t feel cumbersome. Plus, the peace of mind knowing the paper won’t buckle under watery paints is invaluable.

The vibrancy of the provided watercolors adds a vivid touch to our sketches. Initially, there’s a feeling of delight as these easy-to-blend hues came together to form just the shade we were aiming for. Not once did the colors appear dull – even when experimenting with tricky light and shadow. Although some artists may want more pages, the 19 provided have been ample for careful, considered compositions.

The additional tools — the aqua brush and pigment liner — are just as useful. We appreciated the fine tip of the liner for drawing out initial designs without bleeding through. The brush’s squeeze control offered us a new level of precision in our water delivery to the page. Even with consistent use, we didn’t observe any fraying or wear on these tools, signifying their high quality and longevity.

While this journal feels like an artist’s travel companion, the limited number of pages might require us to carry extra paper for extensive trips. And while the variation in watercolor palettes allows for unique experiences, it also means that buying another journal might not replicate the exact experience as before. Despite this, our overall impression is overwhelmingly positive, proving that this journal is a choice pick for the discerning and mobile artist.

2. BAOHONG Watercolor Journal

If you’re seeking a reliable companion for your watercolor adventures, this BAOHONG journal should be your go-to.


  • Superior water absorption without paper warping
  • Pleasant texture that’s tough enough for reworking
  • Convenience of pre-stretched paper saves prep time


  • Glue on the binding may vary in quality
  • Some find the paper size too modest
  • The cover may endure wear over extensive travel use

Slipping this watercolor journal into my bag, I’m always ready for a quick sketch or a detailed session. Its 100% cotton fiber paper absorbs watercolors beautifully, giving life to vibrant hues without any bleed through. The thrill of not dealing with warped pages takes the experience up a notch.

The paper’s slightly textured surface handles scrubs well. We’ve discovered it’s forgiving enough for multiple layers and corrections, making it ideal for both beginners and experienced watercolorists.

Sometimes, we encounter journals that are cumbersome to prepare. Not so with this BAHOHONG journal. The convenience of its pre-stretched paper, glued on four sides, means we dive straight into painting. Over time, we’ve noticed that the durability of the glue binding can be hit or miss. This is no deal-breaker, but something to keep in mind.

Despite such minor grievances, our firsthand experience assures us of one thing: this journal stands out for its paper quality and user-friendly design, making it a worthy companion for all our watercolor projects.

3. Strathmore Watercolor Journal

If you’re on the hunt for a journal that truly accommodates watercolor techniques, this one’s a catch due to its resilient paper and flat-lying design.


  • Robust paper withstands multiple washes
  • Lay-flat binding eases the painting process
  • Made in the USA promises quality craftsmanship


  • Only 48 pages may feel limiting to prolific artists
  • The cover’s dark color shows wear over time
  • Paper may buckle slightly with heavier washes

Having recently spent time with the Strathmore Watercolor Journal, the quality of the intermediate grade paper impressed us. It’s clearly built to handle the demands of watercolor, gouache, and even acrylic. The paper’s robust enough to endure lifting and scraping without falling apart, making our creative sessions more enjoyable and less of a hassle.

The journal’s matte dark chocolate cover exudes sophistication while we carry it to our plein air painting sessions. Its binding really shines, allowing the pages to lie almost perfectly flat which is a boon when we’re layering in those watercolors. The smoothness of the transition from one page to the next in this journal simplifies the process, so we focus more on our art and less on keeping the book open.

Despite the stellar performance, it’s not without its flaws. After several uses, the dark cover started to show signs of wear, which was slightly disappointing, though it didn’t affect the journal’s functionality. We did notice a bit of buckling when we applied heavier washes, but it wasn’t enough to dampen our spirits or thwart our artistic process. With 48 pages, we’re a tad mindful of space but still find it sufficient for a dedicated project or a series of studies.

4. Tumuarta Watercolor Journal

We think this journal is perfect for artists who enjoy the flexibility of both detailed watercolor work and multimedia expressions.


  • The paper quality withstands light washes easily.
  • Sheets pull out smoothly, thanks to perforation.
  • A handy pocket keeps essentials organized.


  • Only comprises 25% cotton which may not suit all artists.
  • Limited sheet count could be restrictive for prolific creators.
  • Lacks variety in paper texture options.

Taking this journal out for a spin, the first thing you notice is the sturdiness of its hardbound cover, inviting you to paint whenever inspiration strikes. Our strokes sat well on the cold-pressed surface, offering enough texture for watercolors to cling to and yet accommodating the glide of a colored pencil.

Handling this journal is a breeze – it opens flat, ensuring no struggles when working across two pages. The convenience of the micro-perforated sheets shines through when we decide to remove our work for framing – it’s seamless and does no damage to the masterpiece.

We’ve found the pocket at the back quite useful. Initially overlooked, it swiftly becomes a treasure trove for bits and bobs you might need or the perfect spot to store those spur-of-the-moment scraps that sometimes turn into genius ideas.

5. ARTEZA Watercolor Books

We think the ARTEZA Watercolor Book is an exceptional choice for artists who need a reliable, portable canvas for their watercolor creations.


  • Withstands multiple layers of watercolor without warping
  • Double-sided pages offer creative flexibility
  • Acid-free paper ensures lasting vibrancy of artwork


  • Paper may pill when overworked
  • Some bleeding through if heavily saturated with water
  • Texture may not suit all watercolor techniques

We’ve been reaching for the ARTEZA Watercolor Book frequently for its superior surface that holds watercolor well, allowing us to layer pigments without the paper buckling under pressure. It’s truly made for an artist’s touch.

The book’s flexibility is a major advantage. Whether it’s a light wash or an intense burst of color, each stroke sits beautifully on the dual-sided paper. Even when on the go, its compact size means our inspiration never has to be left behind.

What stands out is the book’s ability to keep our artwork looking pristine over time. It’s a comforting thought that our works will remain as vibrant as when the brush first hit the paper, thanks to the acid-free material.

We did notice the paper can suffer a bit with too much reworking. It’s a reminder that even the sturdy pages have their limits. And when our watercolor applications are heavy-handed, some paint might slip through to the other side, which requires a little planning to manage.

Overall, while the texture is a joy for many techniques, the discerning artist will note that certain styles require a smoother finish. Our journey with ARTEZA’s offering has been mostly smooth sailing, though, and we believe it’s a tool that sparks rather than stifles creativity.

Buying Guide

When selecting the best journal for watercolor, we focus on several critical factors that ensure we make an optimal choice. Paper Quality is paramount. We look for journals that feature high-grade, durable paper that can withstand wet media without warping or pilling. A weight of 300gsm is considered ideal as it typically absorbs water well and allows the colors to stand out vividly.

The texture of the paper also plays a significant role. Depending on our style, we might opt for cold-pressed paper, which has a slight texture suitable for detailed work, or rough paper for a more textured effect. Some of us might prefer hot-pressed paper, which is smoother and better for fine lines and precision work.

Binding is another crucial aspect we consider. A journal with a sturdy binding that lies flat when opened is highly desirable. This feature allows us to utilize the entire page without any constraints. We look for either spiral-bound journals, which offer this functionality, or ones with a lay-flat design.

It’s also beneficial to reflect on the journal’s size and portability. Depending on our needs, we might choose a pocket-sized journal for convenience or a larger one for expansive work. The number of pages should also align with our usage. More pages mean we won’t run out quickly, but too many might make the journal bulky.

We also take note of the absorbency and drying time of the paper, ensuring it matches our technique and pacing. Finally, we must consider the journal’s sustainability—journals made from environmentally friendly materials are increasingly preferred.

By paying close attention to these facets, we can select the best journal that caters to our watercolor projects, ensuring both our artwork and experience are superb.

Frequently Asked Questions

When selecting a watercolor journal, we consider paper quality, weight, and compatibility with various tools. Here, we address key concerns to help enhance your watercolor journey.

What are the characteristics of a good watercolor journal for beginners?

A good watercolor journal for beginners should have acid-free, cold-pressed paper that can handle washes without bleeding. A hardcover with a spiral binding is also practical for laying the journal flat while painting. We suggest at least 300gsm paper weight for durability and absorption.

How does paper weight, like 300gsm, affect watercolor painting in journals?

Thicker paper, such as 300gsm, is ideal for watercolor painting as it absorbs water well and reduces warping. The heavier the paper, the less likely it is to buckle, allowing us to apply multiple washes and work with wet techniques more effectively.

Which journals are recommended for use with watercolor pencils for best results?

Journals with a fine-textured surface are recommended for watercolor pencils. Mixed media journals are typically versatile enough to handle both the dry application and the water washes that activate the watercolor pencils.

What are some popular watercolor sketchbook brands among artists?

Among artists, brands like Moleskine Watercolor Albums, the Strathmore Series, and Arches Watercolor Pads are favored for their high-quality paper and durability. Canson XL Series Watercolor Pads are also a popular choice for their affordability and good performance.

How can I incorporate watercolors into my journaling practice creatively and effectively?

We can start by using watercolor for backgrounds or accents on pages. Combining watercolor with other mediums and experimenting with various techniques such as masking fluid or salt can add texture and depth to our journaling practice.

What should be considered when choosing paper for watercolor to avoid bleeding and warping?

Opt for watercolor-specific journals with a high paper weight of at least 300gsm. Cold-pressed paper is typically best for watercolor work as it’s thick and textured to prevent bleeding. Ensure the paper is acid-free to maintain the integrity of our artwork over time.

Related Articles:

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00