If you've never had a sketchbook before, I can see how intimidating buying your first one can be. There are so many to choose from, how can you know which one is right for you?
TIP #1: Buy it in person. I'd highly recommend buying your first sketchbook in store, not online. Pick it up and hold it in your hands. Flip through the pages. Is it too heavy or too big for your tastes? Are the pages too thick or not thick enough? Is the paper smooth or rough? Does it feel like a good quality sketchbook?
TIP #2: Decide if you want to draw or paint. There are two types of sketchbooks I buy- one for drawing and writing notes and one for painting and color studies. If you want to use the sketchbook for painting, make sure you read the labels on the front first. It should say "watercolor" or "water media" indicating the uses for the paper inside. There are certain kinds of paper specifically for water media- it's impossible to paint (with watercolor) on anything else.
TIP #3: Choose a size that works for you. I obviously have many different sizes and kinds of sketchbooks on hand. I love to carry the small ones in my purse for quick notes and car sketches, and I keep the big ones for larger concept designs and color studies when I'm in the studio.
TIP #4: Have a budget. Art supplies are expensive, so before you ever walk into the store, determine how much you're willing to pay for your supplies. Prices range from $10 to about $30 for any standard sketchbook. I'd start out on the less expensive end until you figure out what you like. You may even want to buy 2-3 different cheap sketchbooks to get you started.
TIP #5: Spiral bound or hard cover? Spiral bound sketchbooks tend to have paper or stiff board covers that tear and bend easily. That didn't bother me when I was first starting out, but now that my sketches are being shown to others and used for higher quality purposes, I need a hard cover to protect the pages. The advantage to spiral books is that they can be laid out flat or folded over. The disadvantage is that the spiral can get in the way of your hand as you lay it down to draw or paint.
I have so many more tips to share this month, but I hope this gives you a good start!
*This post is part of my "How to Have an Awesome Sketchbook" series that runs the entire month of February 2014. You can join the fun by posting your sketchbook photos on social media using the tag #myawesomesketchbook.