Above is a waterfall sketch that I did last night while test driving the Stillman & Birn Beta Series sketchbook. There are five different paper types in the S&B sketchbook lineup. I've been working with all of them, and as I accumulate enough knowledge about their performance, I'll post reviews here. Hopefully I'll be reviewing all five within the next few weeks.
Features of the Beta series are a heavy, bright white paper with some texture and excellent sizing. Although it is called "rough surface", I don't find it to be rough at all compared with the rough watercolor papers I've used. It weighs in at 180lb --- 270gsm. As you can see from the color brilliance in the sketch above, this paper really allows the color to sit up on top and show itself well. There is no show-through from one page to the next, and the paper doesn't buckle with my watercolor work.
I use fountain pens with various inks and waterbrushes in my sketchbooks too, so I put this book through its paces with my pens too.
Using a hard touch with the fountain pens sometimes resulted in the tip catching in the paper fibers, but with a light touch it was not at all a problem. You can see that the writing is not skipping, and the inks sit on top of the paper enough to wash beautifully with a waterbrush. The little watercolor test revealed the same brilliant color results as on the sketch.
If you've lamented over the fact that watercolor sketchbooks are often only available in landscape format, you can now celebrate! These babies are available in 6x8, 7x10, and 9x12 portrait formats, plus a 7x7" square! For those who prefer stitch-bound books, that will be your only disappointment, as these are only available spiral bound. I'm one of those folks who definitely prefers a stitch-bound book, but this spiral series will end up converting me when I need the heavier paper.
Here's a link to a series of posts done using this sketchbook.
These sketchbooks are available at Utrecht Art Supplies and Wet Paint Art Supplies.