Review & Giveaway-Leda Art Supply Perfect Premium Medium Sketchbook

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  • Leda Art Supply sent me two of their Perfect Premium Medium Sketchbooks, one for a review and one for a giveaway.  And while the giveaway is for U.S. only (sorry), I also have an Amazon coupon code good for 25% off the medium sized books for both the U.S. and Canada.  Giveaway ends April 2, 2018 at 11:59 PDT.

    You can enter the giveaway at my Life Imitates Doodles blog.


    Size: A5/8.25 X 5.5 inch (also comes in Pocket-3.5 x 5.5 inches and Large-7 x 10 inches)

    No. Pages: 160 pages; 80 sheets

    Paper Weight: 81 lb (120 gsm)

    Paper Color: Off-White

    Binding: Sewn

    Cover: Black, flexible, soft-cover, all-weather, textured

    Extra: Pocket on inside back

    Leda Art Supply is a private label art supply company founded in 2015 by GJ Gillespie and his wife Teresa. After traveling the world and finding that sketching best preserved memories of their trips, they decided to create their dream sketchbook.

    Look & Feel 

    The Perfect Premium Sketchbook comes in a small, a medium and a large size.  I’m reviewing the medium size here.The cover is described as all-weather, and weather-resistant. Although flexible, it is sturdy enough to provide some support.  I found it to be heavier and more leather-like than any other flexi-style cover I’ve seen.

    At first glance, it doesn’t look too different from most of the black covered sketchbooks out there, but a closer look shows an unusual texture. The color is more of a deep charcoal than actual black.

    The scan below emphasizes the texture so you can get a better idea of it.  The cover is plain except for the Leda Art Supply logo debossed on the bottom of the front.

    The elastic band is slightly lighter for a pleasant contrast. There are no grommets to hold it place, but the insertion point at top and bottom is clean and looks as though it will hold up to rough usage.

    The corners are rounded and extend, just slightly, beyond the edge of the pages.

    The binding is sewn.  As usual with this kind of binding, the pages are sewn into sections called signatures, and the signatures are then sewn together.  The Perfect Premium signatures are sewn together with a red thread, which adds a nice touch of elegance.  I did my test of choosing a page from the middle of the book, barely holding on to it at the edge and shaking the book violently.  I did get a some creasing of the page, but the binding showed no sign of stress or tearing.

    I was a bit surprised that the book didn’t have a ribbon.  I never use them and often find them in the way, so I was happy not to have one.

    The structure of the spine and binding allows you to fold the pages back. You can fold the pages closer than the photo shows, but beyond this point there is some resistance and I found it difficult to hold it (I do have small hands though).  I also believe folding it back this way would permanently crease the spine if done often.

    There is an pocket at the back of the book.  I usually keep any marketing information that comes with the book – the paper strip and/or flyers – in these pockets.  That way I know exactly what to re-order when I fill up the book.

    The sketchbook has 80 sheets, 160 pages. It is 81 lb/120 gsm and has a smoothness and hardness similar to card stock.  It performs much better than card stock, though.

    The paper is an off-white.  The developers of the notebook chose this color, feeling that a bright white competes with the lines and colors that you add to the page.  Many artists ‘gray’ down their canvas before beginning their work, and that is the effect they were striving for with this paper.

    The marketing information says it is “designed for pencil, ink, pen, pastel and charcoal. It also takes a light watercolor wash well.”  Given the look and weight, I wasn’t sure, at first, but by the time I finished my tests, I was a convert.

    The book is reasonably light for its size.  It is definitely lighter than most hardbacks.  Although, it is stiff when you first open the book, if you open it towards the middle, hold each side and stretch it backwards, slightly, then it lies completely flat.


    The first thing I did was test the paper for watercolor.  The official information says the paper is good for ‘light washes’, so I pushed past that and did a medium wash and worked wet-into wet in a few places.  After the paint dried, I used a superfine nib fountain pen and drew patterns.  What I was looking for was signs of damage to the paper.  A fountain pen nib will catch on areas that might not be seen with the eye, but despite drawing over the entire page I found no roughness.

    I decided to push further with watercolor and see how the paper handled masking fluid.  I did use a good grade of masking fluid, but some paper can’t handing it all, good or bad.

    I used medium heavy washes and some wet-into wet and the masking fluid just peeled away with no problem, once the paint was dry.  I had intended to add more glazes (more layers of watercolor) but I was so pleased with the result I got, that I stopped where I was.

    Next up I decided to try out water-based, fiber-tipped marker pens.  In fact, the pens I used were highlighters! There was some pilling, and I did have to watch my technique to control streaking.  Both are problems commonly encountered with this kind of pen.  I love the brightness of the colors on this paper.

    Next, I decided to try out colored pencil.  The paper was smooth enough that I thought it might not allow any complexity of layering and blending.  I was wrong about that.  I love it when that happens!

    I was able to put down several layers – 8 or 9 of them in some areas, and really build up a nice variation and amount of detail.

    For my last test, I used alcohol markers.  Color from these markers always bleeds through to the back of the page unless the paper is very thick or specially formulated.  The question is how much of the color will bleed through and how bright will it remain.

    In this case, about 90% of the color and brightness bled through.  When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  When it hands you bleed-through, you make bleedthrumanade!  After coloring the front of the page only, I did a non-objective tangle-like drawing.  Then I turned the page over and drew a scene from Mars Station 3039.  At least, I think that must be where it was from – the image was beamed directly into my head, lol.

    There was no feathering, the lines stayed sharp and crisp.

    I used technical pen and fineliners for the line work.


    The Leda Art Supply Perfect Premium Medium Sketchbook is a handy size book, of a good weight for carry with a textured, flexible cover and off-white paper that handles a wide variety of mediums. It handles as well as many higher-priced sketchbooks.

    All opinions expressed in this review are mine, and I received no other compensation.

    If you don’t want to wait to see if you won, you can get a Leda Art Supply Perfect Premium Medium Sketchbookfor 25% off at Amazon U.S. and Amazon CA.

    Just apply the coupon code 94XTTKQJ at checkout.  The code is valid from 03/18/17 12:00 AM PDT thru 04/03/18 11:59pm PDT.


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