Hahnemühle Toned Watercolour Sketch Books Grey And Biege Main Image

REVIEW: Hahnemühle Toned Watercolour Books – Beige and Grey

Hahnemühle’s new toned Watercolour Books have lightly tinted beige or grey paper.  I love working on toned paper, and these fit my style so well, great flow for the paint, ease of color-lifting and brightness of the paint.  I’m enthralled with these books. But preferences vary, so I’ll try to give you the information you need, and let you decide if these books are a good fit for you. 

Toned Watercolour Sketch Books Grey And Biege Exterior

Toned Watercolour Book Specs

  • Sizes:
    • A5 (9 x 6.6 x 0.5 inches) Landscape
    • A6 (4.1 x 5.8 inches) Landscape
    • 14 x 14 cm (5.5 x 5.5 inches) Square
  • No. Pages: 60 pages, 30 Sheets
  • Paper: 200 gsm, grey and beige, fine-grained, acid free
  • Binding: Sewn
  • Cover: Solid linen
  • Extras: Ribbon, Elastic band
  • Suitable for watercolors, gouache, tempera, pastel, charcoal, pencil and crayons

Toned Watercolour Paper

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, ”toned’ simply means paper that has a colored tint to it.  You  may also see it referred to as ‘tinted’ paper.

And why would you want to use toned watercolour paper? 

  • It reduces glare from the sun or other bright lights
  • It reduces the need for a background, allowing a simpler painting
  • You can work from both dark to light and light to dark
  • Many artists feel it gives a more natural result


Toned Watercolour Book – Look & Feel

Toned Watercolour Books Exterior

Hahnemühle’s toned watercolour books are hard-bound with sewn binding.  They come in three sizes (see specs). The rest of this review was done using the square size and smaller landscape book.

Toned Watercolor Books Size Example

The books have a textured linen binding.  For those familiar with the original Hahnemühle watercolour book, the texture on the toned books is more tactile with a shorter grain in both directions.

They have color coordinated elastic bands and …

Toned Watercolour book stitching detail

… red ribbons. With the exception of the Hahnemühle Rooster debossed on the back, the cover is completely plain on both sides. 

The binding is well-sewn, with even stitches and nicely aligned signatures.

Sketchbook strap close up

The corners are rounded and the cover overlaps the sheets.  The ends of the elastic band go completely through the book board, and are attached on the inside of the back cover.  The cover fabric is tightly and evenly wrapped around them with no uneven folds.

Here I held up a piece of white printer paper to show you the tones.  I have found that the color seems darker in some lights and lighter in others.  If you are out in the sun, both seem almost white.

The paper is 200 gsm, and acid free. The texture is fine-grained.  The original watercolour book is suitable for watercolors, gouache, tempera, pastel, charcoal, pencil and crayons, and I would say that is true of this book as well, because the paper handles and reacts the same way.

This is a scanned close-up of the texture. In real life, it is smoother, both to the eye and to the touch.

Toned Watercolour Paper Beige Interior Example

The books lie flat. When you first open one, the spine is a little stiff and there is some spring to the pages. But after you use a couple of pages, the spring goes away.  Or you can prepare the book by gently folding it backwards at several places in the book, to loosen the spine (I show this in the video).

For those of you who are wondering how these books compare to the Grey and Cappuccino sketchbooks, the paper is lighter in tone and more textured.

Comparison of Beige watercolour book (top) and Cappuccino sketchbook.

Comparison of Grey watercolour book (top) and Grey sketchbook.

These are good-looking watercolour books with plain but elegant covers. They are light enough to carry, and sturdy enough to hold up to the travel.

But what about the paper? How does it perform? Read on.


If you’ve read my reviews before, you know  I like to destroy the paper. Or at least try to – this lets me know what my limits are when working on it.

I used masking tape and masking fluid on this page in the grey book and …

Masking and Masking Fluid Test on Toned Watercolor Paper

… it’s hard to tell because I kept lifting, scrubbing and adding more color until my edges were pretty blurred. The areas where I used the tape and fluid held up just as well as the rest of the paper.

Even though there is color in the paper, it doesn’t affect the color of the paint except in the lightest of tones. For instance, if you look closely at the Unicorn’s mane, the band of yellow at the very bottom – you see the yellow is slightly green. That same yellow, peeking out along the unicorn’s back is not. When I got to the mane I had less pigment on the brush. But the difference is very slight.

Watercolor still life apples pears

Next, I did a destruction test in the beige tone, using both gouache and watercolor. The paper held up well. I kept at it until it started to *pill.  I also used plastic wrap on wet paint, let it dry, did some color lifting, repainted, and used plastic wrap again.  This paper is fabulous for getting texture!

*pill – little bits of paper coming of the page

Color lifts well and the paper allows you to add more color. I use this technique a lot to get the texture of fluffy fur or wool on animals. It also means you can easily come back and spread color for a gradual lightening of tone or blending.

While this suits my style, the color may lift too easily for some. Choosing the right brush, and controlling the amount of water eliminates any problem, but not everyone is interested in this style. It is perfect for those who are.

The pages curled a bit, and dried with some dimpling.  Once the page dried, closing the book with the elastic band in place overnight, flattened it out with little dimpling remaining.  With later paintings, I paper clipped several of the pages together, and that was enough to prevent the curl and a good amount of the dimpling.

watercolour painting flowers

The toned paper allows for simple paintings with little or no need for a background.

While it is possible to get transparency, it isn’t as apparent as it would be on white paper.  Many artists feel this gives you a more natural result. It is different, but in a subtle way.

Ink on Watercolour paper

The paper is smooth enough for pen.  There is slight feathering, but it isn’t noticeable unless you look very closely.

Ink on Toned Watercolour paper Vintage Stove

I did these drawings while on vacation in Florida, just before the Corona Virus madness – we visited a Gator Farm and a Pioneer Museum. It was a nasty day and there were some young ‘uns along, so I only had time for quick sketches, and then painted these from the photographs afterward.

I used a .03 fiber-tipped pen. There was no skipping, feathering or blotching during the original drawing or any pen work done over the painting afterwards.

Watercolour lettering and illustration example alligator

You do get a more muted look with the toned paper, but it lends itself well to the quick works you would do for urban sketching or plein air.

Watercolour illustration in toned watercolour book

Paint flows well, allowing for almost any effect.

Watercolour painting landscape trees

This one was painted with gouache.  My test was to see if the paper was heavy enough to hold a thick application and I really daubed on the paint.  After it dried, I rolled the paper gently to see if the paint would crack, chip or flake.  It did not.

Painting example by Sandra Strait

Then I painted another with gouache just to enjoy myself.  I did take advantage of the ability to work both light to dark and dark to light, letting the beige paper show through in places and going both darker and lighter than the color of the paper.

Toned Watercolour Book – Overall

The Hahnemühle Toned Watercolour books come in three sizes, with paper toned either grey or beige. They are handsome books with linen hardcovers and sewn binding. They are light enough to carry and sturdy enough to hold up when you do.  Smooth enough for pen with a great texture for watercolor.

Many feel the toned paper gives a more natural result, but it does limit transparency. Color lifts very easily which is good for some styles, but not others.

The toned paper helps reduce glare, allowing simple paintings with little need for a background.  Great for artists with any level of experience.   

About Hahnemühle

Hahnemühle is known for their ability to combine tradition with modern technologies, and is one of the oldest German papermakers.  They have produced their paper at the same place for more than 430 years, developing the first acid free and archival machine made paper and the first Fine Art Inkjet papers.

Papers characterized by the Hahnemühle ‘Rooster’ are produced with focus on quality instead of quantity.

Where Can You Buy Hahnemühle Toned Watercolour Books

In the U.S. – WetPaint Artist Materials & Framing

In Canada (may not be listed on website yet) :

Other Hahnemühle Reviews on Doodlewash


Disclaimer: I received an A6 Landscape and 14 x 14 cm Square toned watercolor sketchbooks from Hahnemühle to review and two A5 Landscapes to give away . I received no other considerations, though this post contains affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.



Recommended3 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews

35 thoughts on “REVIEW: Hahnemühle Toned Watercolour Books – Beige and Grey

  1. I love these sketchbooks! Ive only owned one and I used it for mixed media. The paper held up extremely well with multi-layering without buckling! I highly recommend these books!*

  2. What an amazing review, Sandra. Thank you! I always enjoy anything you review (could even be a pencil) as it’s a literal feast for the eyes! I loved your artwork for this review, you’re incredibly talented. And your backgrounds are thoughtful. Lol. Thanks! And, oh, by the way, the new toned books look terrific, better texture on the paper, so that’s a big plus. Many thanks for another in-depth cruise around the town. 🙂

  3. A thorough review of these Hahnemühle books. I love looking at your art, gorgeous as always, and revealing a different side to your art than I’m used to. Always a treat to read your detailed reviews. Thank you. Stay healthy.

  4. Sandra, this was such a great review. I’ve wondered about using the toned paper, but so far I’ve never tried it. You make me want to experiment now. Thanks for so much work and all the great advice. I love the painting you did in these books.

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