XXL: My new favorite sketchbook

A larger sketchbook sparked my creativity.

 Lauchttrum 1917 Master Slim, Moleskine, Field Notes

Lauchttrum 1917 Master Slim, Moleskine, Field Notes

I’ve used Moleskine-sized sketchbooks for the last 10 years or so. The size was portable and useful. Not too small, not too big. Functional. I used one notebook for both sketches and meeting notes.

About a year ago, I purchased a Leuchttrum 1917 Master Slim sketchbook at the Atlanta Pen Show. The Master Slim is an oversized hardcover notebook. The official size is A4+, meaning it's larger than a European letter size sheet of paper. I got the dot grid, which is my favorite paper type for any notebook. I didn’t have a purpose in mind when I purchased the Leuchttrum Master Slim. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to use it for. It sat on my desk unused for about a month waiting for the perfect project. I finally broke it out to start working on some lettering ideas for a new typeface. 

It took some significant adjustment. The pages were so large, I had to get used to working with a larger surface area. I was working at a coffee shop and the open book took up most of the tiny table I was at. 

But now, it’s my favorite sketchbook and I can’t imagine going back to the old size. I’m already on my second one.

I love having the big pages to work with. The Master Slim gives me room to do a whole series of small thumbnails, or work on a single, really intricate illustration. I can see the evolution of an idea across a spread instead of flipping through multiple pages. Every sketch for my 52 Shirts project is in a Master Slim notebook. It never occurred to me that my creative process might be altered by changing the size and type of sketchbook I’m using. 

Having a large sketchbook has forced me to reevaluate how I use my notebooks. The Leuchtrum isn’t really practical for taking to meetings and it’s definitely not pocketable. So I now have two notebooks: The Leuchtrum is my sketchbook, and I use Story Supply or Field Notes pocket notebooks for any meeting notes and my new task tracking system. Using two notebooks works better for me and each notebook is better suited for their designated role.

The Master Slim isn’t for everyone. It has a pretty narrow use case, actually. But if you are looking for a large sketching area and want to try a larger sketchbook, you may want to give it a shot. You can find them online, and I purchased by second one from Leuchttrum 1917’s US distributor because they had the widest selection.


Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. He's currently in the middle of a project to design a new shirt a week for an entire year. Follow Bob on TwitterInstagram and Micro.Blog.