A good drawing board is essential for creating quality drawings. Today I’ll review some inexpensive options you can use to take your artwork to the next level!
Why You Need A Drawing Board
You need a hard, smooth surface on which to draw. This will allow you to make your pencil, charcoal, or other marks with confidence. A uniform drawing surface will keep things predictable when you are new to drawing and therefore much less stressful to you as beginning artist learning to draw.
If you draw without a drawing board underneath your paper, you will more than likely gouge indentations into your drawing paper. These incised gouges are hard to notice at the start of your drawing but will show up later on towards the later stages of your drawing leaving you bewildered as to what went wrong. If you’re working out of a pad of paper those gouged indentations in the paper can even scratch up the paper below ruining your next drawing before it has even started!
The use of a drawing board also allows for easy movement of your drawing itself. Once taped down your drawing can be rotated around and safely worked on from any angle. Taping your drawing to a drawing board also affords you the opportunity to prop your drawing up and look at it from a further distance; a necessary activity for all artists.
Store-bought vs. Homemade Drawing Boards
Clips, metal edges, handles, rubber bands, bells, whistles, etc… there are so many types of drawing boards you can buy online or at your local art store. The simple ones cost around $14 while you can spend over $100 for some of the larger fancier models. I’m sure the expensive drawing boards are very nice, but I’ve never owned one. I’ve been toting around the same homemade drawing boards for years, maybe decades; they are dirt cheap drawing surfaces and you can make them in any size you’d like. Here’s how you can make your own drawing board…
- PREMIUM QUALITY - Made from extra rigid 4mm tempered Masonite for long-lasting quality
- ERGONOMIC DESIGN - Constructed with cutout handle, smooth edges, and firm spring clips
- SECURE HOLD - Rubber band is included with each to hold paper and/or pads securely in place
- A PROFESSIONALS CHOICE - Alvin has been the professionals choice for drafting tools and drawing supplies for over half a century. Since 1950, we have brought quality and value to our customers. Our tools help bridge the gap between ideas and innovations. We are known for our wide selection of high quality tools at a fair price
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Making a Drawing Board
Any material that is rigid and lightweight enough to carry and has a super smooth surface can become a drawing board. You can go to any home improvement store that sells wood and find some potential homemade drawing board options. Tempered hardboard is an excellent wood for making drawing board. Go with the 1/4 inch thickness so it’s sturdy enough and resists bending.
Note: Many people refer to hardboard as “Masonite”, but masonite is actually just a brand name of hardboard…it’s kind of like calling a photocopy a “Xerox” copy.
You can buy a whole 8 foot by 4 foot sheet of quarter inch hardboard for usually under $15 and let me tell you…you can get many drawing boards out of that single sheet of wood! In fact, what I once did many years ago was: I took a piece of graph paper and calculated all of the cuts necessary to divide up the 8×4 foot sheet of hardboard into many different sized drawing boards so that they could easily accommodate a variety of paper sizes. It was a blueprint of cuts. I brought that blueprint / graph paper right to the store and had them cut up the hardboard wood right there! I left the store with a stack of various sized boards great for drawing and they all fit nicely into my car – no gigantic 8×4 foot sheet to take home and cut myself. What a relief!
Using Your Drawing Board
When using your drawing board you’ll want to fix your paper to the drawing board. I like using drafting dots for this, but if I’m out of drafting dots I’ll use that blue painter’s tape, and in a real pinch I use regular masking tape that I stick on and off my cloths a few times to make it less sticky!
Standard Sizes Blueprint
Here’s blueprint for taking a standard sheet of wood (4 by 8 feet) and cutting it up into standard sizes. What do I mean by standard sizes? The sizes you most commonly find in art stores when buying canvases, frames, and paper. Enjoy!
Thank you for your advice on how to make a drawing board. Your tips were helpful and insightful. Keep up the good work!
Awesome Kara, I’m glad you found it useful! Talk to you soon.
Thank you for this great post! Would you be able to post the blueprint that you took with you? I am a beginner so I’m not sure how many of each size (or really what sizes) I should be looking for. I am looking to get a stack of hardboard to be able to stretch multiple pieces of watercolor paper at a time.
I added a pdf download at the bottom of the post. Check it out!
thanks soooo much for the tip i tried it and it worked like magic.
I’m so glad Lianne! Thanks for commenting.
Thanks! this is a great help! Can I use this as a reference source in my research? Of course with credits and citations 🙂
Please can I get dimension to make an A3 drawing board of my own
Sure, just look it up online and cut the board.
Why are there a couple of the same size….for multiple projects being done at once?
I think you are referring to the downloadable template for cutting your own drawing boards… Well a 4×8 foot sheet is huge and gives you way more space than you need to create 2 or 3 drawing boards so I included duplicate sizes. And yes I have found myself having multiple projects going on at once.
I’m curious, do you put an 18×24 piece of paper on an 18 x 24 drawing board? Don’t you need some space around the piece of paper?
Nick, I have always used a border around the edge of all of my drawings. In this case if the paper goes right up to the edge of the drawing board it doesn’t matter.