Ideas for the Accordion Sketchbook

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Out of all the sketchbooks out there, I think one of the most unique ones has to be accordion sketchbooks. These are sketchbooks that are made with one long sheet of paper, folded like an accordion instead of being bound traditionally.

But what’s the point of having a sketchbook in this format? And what are some ways to use an accordion sketchbook to its full potential? I’ll be exploring these ideas in this blog post, so feel free to join in on the fun!

Unfolding World

For accordion sketchbooks, each fold in the paper makes a “page”. But while you could have one side be the “front” and the “back”, when you unfold it fully, you can have it so the entire length of the paper becomes the “front”. You could technically turn it around and use the entire “back” length of the sketchbook as well! 

This means you could have a very long, single painting that spans across the whole paper, which isn’t possible with a regular sketchbook. Each fold in the paper can also denote one section of the painting, which you can incorporate into your painting concept (which we’ll look further into later). 

Also, because of this continuous connection between the pages, there’s a greater sense of a story or world unfolding to reveal a bigger theme and picture. So use these traits to your advantage!

The Continuous Painting

As mentioned before, one concept you could lean into is the idea of one continuous painting, that may or may not be separated into different sections. For example, I painted a landscape in a Chinese painting style, but instead of cutting off the painting at the fold, I continued for another 3 pages.

Can you tell the difference between each section? It might be subtle, but each section is a different season, starting with spring and ending with winter. 

If you just want to do one continuous painting regardless of the different sections, that’s fine, too! You can imagine a cityscape, a city’s skyline, a forest blooming along a river…anything that runs on for seemingly forever will be a great subject for a painting in an accordion sketchbook.

Tip: One great thing about the accordion sketchbook is that you can always take a break from painting after each section, especially if you’re stuck on how to continue the painting. It can also be used to track your art progress, so that’s something to consider.

The Continuous Story

You might have realised that the accordion sketchbook kind of resembles something else as well: panels of a comic or storybook. Each section gives you enough room to create a panel or scene, while the continuity allows you to link the panels into one short story.

You can use this to your advantage, either by playing around with ideas and turning your accordion sketchbook into something like a storyboard or by fully committing to illustrating a story you might have. 

Either way, it’s a good practice, especially in terms of understanding a plot’s pacing. 

The Continuous Theme

Last but not least, you can treat your accordion sketchbook like a collection of paintings with the same theme or subject. For example, if you like to study flowers and plants through your art, you can paint or draw a different plant per page. Then when you unfold the whole sketchbook, you’ll have a series of plants that you’ve studied at one point!

You can do this with storefronts, animals, portraits, trees…anything that you like, or would like to work on improving! Of course, you may need to get more than one accordion sketchbook if you want to study multiple subjects, but this is a pretty great way to track your progress, and/or just to have a bit of fun.

The Accordion, Accordingly

Of course, you are free to use your sketchbook however you wish. I’m just sharing some ideas that would fit the format of this special sketchbook, but don’t feel like you have to conform to it! Ultimately, it’s still a sketchbook, and a tool you use to improve your art skills with. 

So don’t be shy, and start painting! And do share any ideas you may have with us – we love to see what our art community have come up with using our products.

Have you tried using an accordion sketchbook before? If so, what did you do with it? Let us know in the comments below!

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Nicola Tsoi is a practising graphic designer and illustrator based in Hong Kong. During her downtime, she likes to watch birds do funny things, search for stories, and bake up a storm. She keeps a pet sourdough starter named Doughy. 
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1 Comment

  • An accordion sketchbook provides a way to make a collaborative piece with other sketchers about a specific event or theme. Also can be a lovely gift from several artists for a common friends birthday or other occasion—again, a collaborative work.

    Barbara Beynon on

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