For the simple task of creating your own drawing board, it is best to first consider the size of the paper that you will be using for the drawing. For Fabriano Ingres thicker paper, which is 19 ½” x 27 ½”, it would be best to select a surface that is approximately 2 inches higher and wider (21 ½” x 29 ½”). I usually purchase a ½”x 30”x40” piece of black Gatorboard from Daniel Smith, as it is light, sturdy, and can be cut into smaller pieces without the use of power tools.
A pencil to mark measurements, a long metal ruler and a big enough cutting device to completely pass through the ½” if material will also be needed. I usually simplify the task by making one cut across the long side at 22” so that my final measurement is 22” x 30”, then cut the remaining piece down to two smaller boards to use for smaller projects.
Regardless of the material or size used, an accurately square cut piece with enough boarder to secure your paper to is the desired outcome.
Next, you will want to purchase some artist’s (removable) tape and a pad of larger (24” x 36”) newsprint that you will use several pieces of to pad your drawing board. This will create enough give for the drawing paper to not become damaged from any sharp drawing media. Take 6-8 pieces of newsprint and cut them to 20 ½” x 28 ½”, so that the Fabriano Ingres paper will fit over top of it and well within its borders. Secure the pieces of newsprint to the Gator board with the artist’s tape, then secure the piece of drawing paper to the newsprint in the top two corners, taking care to ensure it is square to the drawing board. This will help prevent a tilted drawing as it relates to the edges of the paper.
If a fixed plumb line is desired, then secure a wooden dowel to the top edge of the drawing board, protruding out on the side that you are viewing your subject from. Hang a plumb line from this dowel, so that the string hangs within your view. This will allow for quicker measurements to be taken.
¼” smooth mdf, or masonite can also be used for a drawing board. These can be purchased in larger 4’x8’ sheets from most lumber yards. If you do not have a saw or are inexperienced with power tools, I would pay a little extra to have them cut it to size on their table or panel saw, along with one extra of the same size for simultaneous projects and several smaller ones for smaller projects.
Instead of tape, it is also common to use large binder clips to secure the paper to the drawing board.