Review: Pentalic Illustrator’s Sketchbook

The Pentalic Illustrator’s Sketchbook is a nice little notebook I found at Lee’s Art Supply in New York several months ago.
It’s very basic, and in some ways hard to distinguish from other Moleskine clones, but it does have a few interesting points of differentiation.

  • The paper wrapper is a translucent vellum.
  • The cover material is a little smoother than Moleskine.
  • It has black endpapers.
  • The brand name is on the ribbon marker-, which is a bit longer than usual
  • In addition to black, white and brown covers are available.
  • It has 200 pages, a bit more than the usual 192 for notebooks this size.

Though the specs say it is 3.5 x 5.5″, it feels a little smaller than a Moleskine, and the cover overhangs slightly more, so the inside pages are smaller.

It has nice smooth paper that feels good with all pens, and my fountain pen worked nicely on it– but it’s a bit thin– not great for showthrough.


Pentalic is based in Oregon, US, but the notebook says it is “hand made in China”, and notes that the cover material is manufactured in the Netherlands. They also note “book design by Maurits,” so I guess that’s who gets credit for those little touches mentioned above!

There’s something very pleasing about this notebook– I love the black endpapers, and it just feels good in the hand. Given the showthrough and light paper, I’m not sure a lot of artists would really use it as a sketchbook, but I think I’ll work it into my rotation for daily jottings and quick sketches.

70 gsm/ 45 lb paper
200 sheets, 3.5″ x 5.5″

5 thoughts on “Review: Pentalic Illustrator’s Sketchbook”

  1. The fact that its vellum makes it really different from paper though. I don’t know if show through and the like are really things to compare.

  2. I’d never heard of Pentalic till my spending spree at the college bookstore, preparing for Art class. I didn’t really need it, but it seemed just right, so I got it. It’s very well made.

  3. I like the Pentalic Illustrator’s Sketchbook pretty well. It has a nice clean feel to it. I think they also went through a couple formulations when they first developed it. I know the first round was pretty thin paper, and then they beefed it up a bit. Reason I know is because I ended up with one of the first ones, bought another one later on, and it was thicker paper the second time around. Not sure which one you reviewed here.

    My absolute favorite though is the “sister” product to the Illustrator, the Traveler Pocket Sketch. Instead of hard covers, they have a flexible cover, still waterproof and durable. I like the flex a bit better because it allows the book to open a tiny bit easier when I’m drawing or writing on the go. I use them primarily for journals. I write with tons of different pens. I’m a pen and ink freak. Usually I use Daler Rowney FW ink or Dr. Ph Martin’s Bombay india ink… both are dip inks, so I use a pen holder and various pen nibs. No ink other than yucky Sharpies (not a fan) bleed through the Traveler pages. The paper is great for ink, pencil and colored pencil. The Traveler sheets are considerably beefier than the Illustrator, at a 60# weight. I absolutely love these books and have filled a number of them.

    I’m currently writing in an Illustrator, that’s why I found your blog interesting. The one I’m using right now is the white covered one, and it’s pages are pretty thick, so it must be the second run. If you can find one of those, I bet you’ll like it more based on your review of show through.

    Here’s a link to the Travelers on Amazon, available in a range of sizes and colors:

  4. I just purchased a pentalic traveler sketchbook and there is a warning on the back. What does it mean? “Cancer and reproductive harm”

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