Illo sketchbooks are relatively new to the art scene; however, they’ve managed to stir up quite a bit of hype among artists within just a short time. They’re marketed as being versatile, high-quality, and affordably priced, which, if these claims are true, would make them a must-have for both professional and home artists alike.

illo sketchbook

To get an idea of how well these sketchbooks actually performs, YouTube content creators from all corners of the world have started to post video reviews. One creator, who is a passionate, self-taught artist and art supply aficionado, took to their platform to share their views of the new sketchbooks.


In terms of appearance, the sketchbooks seem to be pretty basic. Each book features a faux-leather, hardback cover and a sturdy spine. To keep the books closed and protect any loose papers, the books also have an included safety strap that reaches from one side of the book to the other.


You can buy the books in a variety of different sizes, including the 8×8, 4×5, and 10×10, which gives users a nice range of options. For frequent Illo users, the company packages its books in bundles, as well. Opting to buy a bundle is more financially friendly for those who do a lot of drawing in these sketchbooks. This is mostly due to the fact that the pricing of the sketchbooks is a bit strange, with one book costing a certain amount and another that is only two or three inches bigger costing nearly double.

Opening the sketchbook, the reviewer found that the paper is a brilliant white color and decently thick. It doesn’t have the most texture, but isn’t fully smooth, either. Putting a drawing behind a blank piece of paper, though, they made note of the fact that the paper is slightly see-through.


illo sketchbook review

Source: @nadira_sama_mono

When the reviewer used gauche paints, water-color paints, felt tipped markers, and basic sketching pencils for demonstration purposes, none of the mediums provided results to get excited over. They were, as the reviewer put it, “just okay.” Surprisingly, the paint mediums didn’t cause the paper to buckle as much as expected, though, which was a good bonus. One significant con about using the watercolors, though, is that the paper’s texture makes it almost impossible to lift paints once they are applied: watercolors are usually very easy to lift.

Where the sketchbooks lack with paints, they make up for with line drawing pieces. For creating simple line drawings with permanent felt pens and ink, the sketchbook blew the reviewer’s expectations out of the water. The results were better than anticipated, the paper not buckling, bleeding, or smudging, and overall holding up really well.
Ballpoint pens were also a big success, quickly becoming this particular reviewer’s favorite medium to use on the paper. When used on the paper, the pens went on smoothly and evenly, with little trouble and no white spots. The paper even held up against stippling and shading with the pen!

Copic markers were on the better end of “just okay.” While the paper seemed to draw a lot of ink from them, drawing with them was relatively easy. It was easy to layer and blend colors, but oddly enough, there were a few places where white spots formed in the color.
Now, last but not least, colored pencils proved to be the worst art medium for on the paper. The reviewer drew and colored a basic illustration using premium quality colored pencils and still found the results to be less than ideal.

It was hard to layer color and blend, but worst of all was the difficulty they had with the colored pencils smudging. The colors that were laid down would smudge easily and frequently, spreading color where it was not wanted. In addition, the colors appear muted on the paper, not showing up as vibrant as they usually do.

Worth It?

So, is the Illo Sketchbook worth it? It depends! For anyone trying to use paints of create mixed media art works, this book likely isn’t for you. If you’re hoping to do a lot of pen and ink drawings, though, the sketchbook is a good bet.

However, the overall cost of the books is high and it’s undecided if it’s worth it to spend so much on a sketchbook that promises so much but, in actuality, provides such mediocre results. At the end of the day, though, it’s up to you – after all, many artists swear by this new line of sketchbooks.