Tools of the Trade: The Drawing Board

The field of battle! The drawing board.
For the past couple of years I’ve had an Ikea “drawing board” – essentially a large table with a built in “lightbox” (really a glass window on top of the table, that, when lit from below, can act as a lightboard).

But it was just too large, and, ironically, given the size there never seemed to be any space on it to draw – it would fill with clutter faster than it could be cleared. So I finally caved and bought back my OLD drawing table (that was held in storage). I used to use the table flat, but decided to angle it at around 35degrees to save my back and future damage (I’ve never had any back problems, but I did develop a terrible habit of sitting on my folded legs – which, when younger, wasn’t a problem, but now after 20 minutes my legs are dead).

Anyhue, angling the table presented a major problem – rollage! things would just roll over it. Some lateral thinking, a bit of blind luck and now, at last I have the closest thing to a perfect working environment as I’ve ever managed. So I present, my drawing board annotated.

1) Moleskin – four thumbnail pages per page – so eight pages are layed out – that’s the entirity of numbercruncher #6.
2) a small paint roller paint tray – basically it’s hooked onto the metal bit (which in turn is hooked onto the back of the table) and gives me a little box to keep ink and drawing tools in – not too many, but as many as I need.
3) The pens are, left to right, a .5 mechanical pencil (2H lead), a traditional nib dip pen (no idea what kind of dip pen it is, I bought a batch several years ago from my local graphics shop – they were labelled “sketching”) a brush, a sapphire series 51 0 brush (a rigging brush for painting rigging on pictures of boats). These are all held in place on top of a car dashboard non-stick surface, bought for a £1 in the local pound shop – basically it’s a sticky gel, that you can just plant things on – despite the extreme angle of the table (and you can see the angle from the attached sideview of the table)
4) an off cut of a £1 roll of “non-slip surface” – again from a local pound shop-this stuff is designed for cushions or mats or sundry other items, but I’ve found it’s a great addition to the drawing table – the offcut allows me to plant block of paper on top of it and it will not move, again, despite the angle.
5) Either a bit of scrap paper (which black inklines on it) OR A full roll of the “non-slip surface” running along the top of the table – it’s a BIG table and that upper area is unused, having that non-slip surface along the top means I can just plant tools up there out of the way when I don’t need them. (I accidentally labelled two things as ‘5’)
6) my ipad. For reference. Or music. Or tv while I work.
7) Angle poise lamp, from Ikea – I went for the flourescent tube model, I rarely use it as my drawing table is planted directly below the bulb in my studio.
8) Books – I have two shelves of books just above my head. I’m continually worried they’ll fall and crush me. I can place scripts, etc, in between books here – sticking out enough to remind me they exist.
9) A reference of pages sizes – I’m currently drawing a US sized book and a 2000AD sized strip, this keeps me right (since I don’t use pre-printed paper)
10) White bluetack (bit hard to see where 10 is – it’s just below the drawing pad) – a big wodge of it, which I move around as I rotate the art to keep it in place (though it’s less used now I have slightly more non-stick surface that I can put underneath the artpad)
11) circle/ellipse templates, etc – just sitting there, underused.
12) Rulers! Two of them. They’re big!
13) My script
14) some rubbers. I have a lot of rubbers.

There you go. Hope that’s of interest!

Author: PJ

Belfast based Comic Artist who won’t shut up on twitter.

2 thoughts on “Tools of the Trade: The Drawing Board”

  1. Interesting to see other peoples workspaces. As I share with 11 other comics artists I’ve noticed that everyone does it differently. Though a common thing seems to be pitching the board steeper as you get older and have to start looking after your back. Mines now at around 45 degrees and as high as the board will go, so the pages are almost at eye level with my back straight. I can also hang a laptop off the board on a piec of wire for doing colour work.I should post that too.


  2. I’m telling you, those dirt cheap non-slip mat things are amazing. I draw on a pad (I like to keep the page attached to the pad up until I’m finished, if i can help it) and I’m mulling over covering the entire surface of the table in the non-slip material – makes it useless for just putting one sheet of paper on the board, but I never do that. Post your board!


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