Whether you are a beginner or a professional artist, finding the best drawing board is essential. But finding the one for your own needs could prove to be a challenge but this article will help ease that burden.
There are many different styles to suit just about any condition an artist may need. Here are just a few selections I thought would be good for reviewing to help show the different types of drawing boards on the market today.
How To Find The Best Drawing Boards
With such a vast variety on the market, care should be taken to ensure you are getting what you pay for especially if you are ordering online. Here are just a few questions I used when researching for the best drawing boards.
What size Drawing Boards Is Best?
Just like paper, there are many different sizes to choose from. A surface the size of a clipboard up to desk size is what you are facing here. A larger surface can allow for some artists to use reference material beside their work area which comes in handy when doing portraits and using the grid drawing method.
How heavy is it?
Weight can be a driving factor for some artists due to hiking to locations in the field. The thin masonite style with clips provides a solid field surface and only weighs around 2 pounds depending on the size. There are some that can weigh as much as 10 pounds.
Is there a way to hold the paper still?
Some drawing boards are just flat surfaces that may require tape to hold the paper in place. While others have clips and bands to keep your paper from moving or being blown around by the wind when outside. If you like the idea of storing your work with the board then the one with clips is the way to go. If you have a flat board then perhaps purchasing elastic or rubber bands large enough to go around it would work.
Can I angle the surface?
I have found that always working horizontally causes my back and neck to hurt especially after longer periods of time in one spot. Having the ability to tilt the drawing surface can greatly reduce the stress on your neck and back. Leaning it on some books can also work but sliding could be an issue. Some have dowel pins to allow for various angles to be achieved but causes the weight to go up.
How smooth is the surface?
Having a solid surface to place your drawing on is nice! But I have found that some drawing boards may have a rougher surface and will cause the texture to show through on your work. A smoother surface is the way to go in my opinion. Sandpaper can be used on many of these to smooth up the surface and edges.
Materials Used In Drawing Boards
What a drawing surface is made of is important to consider because moisture can cause some to swell and wrinkle the surface. For example, artists that may use a watercolor medium should buy one that is non-absorbent.
This material is the most common and can be sanded to a smooth finish if needed. You can also stain or paint the surface to seal out moisture. Depending on the style, this material can be heavy or light. Legs and angle mechanisms add to the weight significantly.
Plastic can provide a smoother surface but can break more easily if dropped. This type of material can provide for a more portable drawing board by being lighter in weight. Being easier to clean makes this a cost-effective choice for someone starting out.
There are others that are made of composite and epoxy that may not hold up to moisture as well.
Drawing Board Accessories
There are quite a few tools that can help you to work quicker and more accurately.
I use a drawing board for all my colored pencil projects. A good drawing tool is kind of a given as one of the main accessories. So I reviewed some of the best colored pencils and best watercolor pencils for finishing out your own artwork.
I think all drawing boards should come with one of these tools. These will help you to draw straight lines quickly which comes in especially handy when using a grid. Some t-squares will have measurements to help size out your drawing to fit on the paper.
By using these in conjunction with the t-square you can achieve vertical lines more easily. Angles can also be drawn more accurately. This is another must-have piece of equipment, especially for perspective drawing and drafting.
In some cases, lighting can be an issue, and having a light source comes in handy. There are many styles of lights from standing lights to a more portable clip style light that will fasten to your drawing board.
Cases and Bags
If you are looking to protect your artboard then a case can provide extra protection from the elements. These can also be used for carrying paper and drawing pads which helps with storing everything together. Everything in one place packed and ready to go is convenient for home or travel.
Tabletop Drawing Boards
This type of drawing surface can be somewhat portable but the main purpose here is to help the artist by allowing him or her to tilt to varying angles instead of having to look down.
I did notice some of these having compartments and trays for art equipment which can help with storage.
SoHo Urban Artist Drawing Board
This is an extra large size coming in at 19.75” x 29.5” drawing surface and weighs around 8 pounds. Being able to fold into a fairly thin profile helps make this board somewhat portable despite the size. You can adjust the table from flat up to 80 degrees.
- Solid hardwood
- Larger drawing surface
- Telescoping lamp available
- Compact for easy storage
- 5 different angle settings
- Adjustment dowel may be weak
- The odor of wood stain noticed when opening
Though most of my research shows very positive reviews there were a few shipping-related issues and damage. This drawing board works well with varying sizes of paper and is large enough to have your reference material beside your workspace.
US Art Supply Drawing Board
I chose this one mainly due to the storage capabilities. It has a slightly smaller work area which is 20.5” wide by 16” tall. A t-square is included which in my opinion is a necessary piece of equipment for a beginning artist or any artist for that matter.
- Good size working surface
- 6 adjustable angles
- Drawer for storage
- T-Square Included
- Not as portable
- Could be an issue with the drawer sticking
During my research on this, I had some difficulty due to a lower number of reviews. It appears this is a good choice if you intend to leave it in one place with minimal movement. Hard to give it my seal of approval because some reviews spoke negatively about the drawer not working properly.
Laptop And Portable
If you travel or work in the field a lot this type could be what you are looking for. I was somewhat surprised by the variety and drafting capabilities of these more versatile boards.
Art Advantage Sketch Board
You can’t go wrong with this style of the grab-and-go drawing board. This masonite board provides a smooth surface for drawing and sketching. Comes in 4 various sizes to accept just about any size of drawing paper. The one shown here is 23 inches by 26 inches.
- Clips and Banding hold the paper in place
- 4 sizes available
- Grab and go handle
- Easy storage
- Keep away from moisture
- The sticker may be hard to remove
I love these drawing boards because you can store your paper with them making it super easy to move around in the field. I did read some reviews about the manufacturer putting a sticker on the drawing surface but the problem may have been resolved. The clips and band help hold the paper still even in windy conditions.
Martin Portable Board
This one is made from a high resin particle board which makes for a smooth and cleanable surface that can work with watercolors without causing damage. The one shown here is the larger size coming in at 29 inches by 23 inches with a 6 setting elevating stand. There may be some smaller versions available.
- Performs well
- Adjustable to 30 degrees
- Fits most drawing pads
- Clean up is easy
- Super smooth surface
- Maybe a little heavy
- Some shipping damage issues
Has a carrying handle making it easier to take into the field but may lose some stability when used in your lap or on the ground. The weight is about 8 pounds and may feel heavier if you are hiking for long distances. Overall this appears to be a good drawing board especially if you are using it at home or in the studio.
Koh-I-Noor Portable Board
I chose this one mostly because of the scales located at the top and side which helps to draw grids quicker and easier. Comes with a vinyl carrying case that holds a paper size up to 14 inches by 19 inches.
- Comes with 3 clips to hold paper
- Vinyl Case for protection
- Drafting capabilities
- Light Weight
- Sliding ruler
- 1-inch scale
- All plastic
- Possibly more fragile
- No tilting capability
This could be for beginning artists and drafters but is not the best price for the drawing boards reviewed. I believe this is a good choice for the fieldwork as it is very lightweight. The scales and sliding rule provide for more accuracy while the case makes it easier to protect all your drawing equipment.
I found so many different types of drawing boards that it is hard to know which one is the best. But in the end, I believe I would go with the US Art Supply Drawing Board because of a few reasons. I use just a basic drawing board for almost all my drawings that I plan on finishing. You can see how I used my drawing board for finishing a drawing in my art lesson on How To Draw With Colored Pencils.
The size of the surface is acceptable for most paper sizes. Some portability is lost but I feel like the storage capabilities make up for that. I really like the idea of the drawer for pencils and other equipment.
There could be some stability issues in the field making it a bit more challenging but I feel like it is possible to overcome. The t-square is a big plus for making this decision also.
Hope this review helps you to find the best drawing boards for your purposes and thanks for reading.