It's the one rule I have for sketchbooks of any kind; they must lay flat when open. There is nothing more annoying than sketching and having previous pages constantly flip back on you. Spiral sketchbooks lay flat, but I find them lacking in a few areas: they eventually tear your pages, the spirals bend if stacked, and they find a way of getting snagged when pulling them out of a bag. That leaves me with black-bound sketchbooks which look great, stack or sit on a bookshelf nicely, but they don't lay flat very well.
On my journey to find a bound sketchbook that lays flat I found two. Imagine the luck: 2 different sketchbooks, suited for different purposes, that both lay flat.
Moleskine Sketchbook Large
Images from moleskines.com.
We all know the reputation of Moleskine notebooks and while I was a naysayer about Moleskines for a while, I did find a few blog posts by fellow obsessive sketchbooks-must-lay-flat artists who praised them for this one reason. I picked up the Moleskine Sketchbook Large a few weeks ago and the hype is real. The paper is thick and lightly textured, the binding is excellent, and they lay flat when open. There is no competition for my needs, these are the last sketchbooks I will ever buy. Certified Moleskine fanboy.
Behance Dot Grid Journal
Images from creativesoutfitter.com.
While I could just use the Moleskine for my wireframes and icon design, I like grids. It's sort of the backbone for design and even when I sketch I like to have a rough grid to work with. I have a number of small rulers and stencils that I use to make quick grids, but using them makes the entire sketching process an annoyance. So I started searching for a notebook that had the following characteristics:
- Lays flat
- Bound, not a spiral
- Has a grid, but that grid can't be obtrusive, it has to be there but not in the way.
I've found the answer in Behance's Dot Grid Journal. My only criticism is that the paper could be thicker. It a little on the thin side, lacking texture and might bleed through a bit if you like markers. Still, it lays flat and I only use pencils so I'm good to go.