I use magnetic whiteboards for my drawing boards now. They’re sold at all the big box stores, and they’re lightweight and portable. I keep two or three drawings-in-progress on their own boards.
Each drawing board holds the artwork and reference photos I need to work on it, and it makes a portable package that I can just pick up and take with me.
I hold the drawing board in my lap or on top of a pillow when I draw. In addition to holding the drawing paper and photos, I use the magnets to hold a protective sheet of paper in place where my hand touches the paper.
When you’re shopping for a board, get one without a frame if you can. I find that the frames are irritating to work around, even if they’re small. And if you take them off, the board isn’t finished very well underneath.
You’ll need stronger magnets than the ones that come with the board, so get some rare earth magnets. If you’ve never used these before, they are very strong. Four or six of the tiny 1/4″ rounds will hold several layers of paper securely on the board.
Since the larger boards can get a little pricey, I’m going to leave the DIY instructions for the original homemade version of my magnetic drawing board up. Here they are. Enjoy!
My Original DIY Magnetic Drawing Board Instructions
My portable magnetic drawing boards are made out of foam core board, galvanized flashing, and duct tape! They’re meant to be hand held, so the foam board makes them lightweight. They keep the drawing paper, masks, scrap paper, and a reference photo in place with magnets so I can draw anywhere and at any angle that I happen to be sitting in.
- Galvanized flashing is at hardware stores and it comes in different widths and lengths. You can buy several feet of the twelve inch wide variety for about eight dollars. I’ve found that a twelve inch wide magnetized strip down the middle of any size drawing board is very useful, so I use the that size on all my boards.
- Tin snips are found at the hardware store too. You can get a pair for about six dollars.
- Duct tape is pretty easy to find since people use it for everything.
- Foam core board can be found at art, office supply and department stores. It is usually under two dollars a sheet.
- Small rare earth magnets can securely hold several layers of paper on these boards, and you might be able to raid your refrigerator for some of these. :)
Cut the foam board and flashing as shown in the illustration below.
I make the foam core board larger than the flashing. The foam core board is easily cut with a matte knife and the galvanized flashing cuts fairly easily with tin snips.
Since I hold these drawing boards in my lap, usually resting on one hand, I like to keep them as lightweight as possible. Foam core board makes a stiff yet lightweight base and galvanized flashing is the thinnest metal I’ve been able to locate.
Keep it all together with Duct Tape!
When I tape the flashing to the board, I wrap the duct tape over the edge of the board for a really secure hold.
The edges of the tape and metal won’t transfer through to your drawing paper when you draw over them if the paper is thick enough. To avoid the possibility of that happening altogether, just cut a stiff piece of Bristol Board to size and put it under the drawing paper. The magnets can easily hold several layers of paper in place, even through the layer of duct tape near the edge.