Sketchbooks come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with varied covers, and differing numbers of pages. Sketchbooks began as a way to provide a readily available supply of drawing paper in the convenient form of a book. Finish of the work found in the sketchbook varies widely from artist to artist, with some having very simple drawings and lots of notes, and some having highly worked images. Over time, it might allow others to see the artist's progress, as his/her style and skills develop. Many artists personalize their sketchbook by decorating the covers. Sketches are sometimes removed from sketchbooks at a later date.
Sketchbooks made out of high quality paper, differentiated by weight and tooth, allow for a wide variety of techniques to be used, ranging from pencil drawings, to watercolor, to colored pencil, to pen and ink, and so on. Certain paper characteristics might be more desirable for use with certain mediums. Sketchbook paper comes in a variety of tones, ranging from pure white, to cream, and includes less common varieties, such as gray. In displays of contemporary art, as well as historical retrospectives, intimate and ephemeral records are increasingly valued, resulting in the exhibition of sketchbooks alongside "finished" artworks. Computer technology has allowed for the development of digital sketchbooks.