Today I am going to explain how to make a small drawing board, just the right size for artist trading cards and popping in your purse or drawing kit.
What you will need;
Hi-Tack Masking or White Art Tape
One sheet of graph paper
One sheet of heavy drawing paper or butchers paper
Some clear double sided adhesive (like a Tombow adhesive roller) I advise against glue as a substitute but in a pinch a gluestick can work in place of the doublesided)
Locally we have a store called Tap Plastics, now you may have one close to you or not, but you can easily find a similar business by going to yahoo local or yelp and searching "Plastic"or "Plastic Fabrication".
What you want from them is a sheet of clear plastic about 1/16 to 1/8th of an inch thick and 4" x 6" at the smallest surface area.
You can get larger but don't go smaller, you want an edge capable of accomodating tape to hold down cards, and you'll want to have space around the card for handling the board without smudging the work, if you use clips or a rubber band.
The plastic pieces I got were pre-cut for picture frames and cost a dollar each at Tap. Just to give you an idea on price, your mileage may vary.
Once you are ready to start, the first thing you want to do is remove the covering from the plastic. The plastic sheet will most likely have a thin film on both sides, this is there to protect the plastic and to make a markable removable surface for the cutter at the store.
These are mostly on by cling or heat and should peel right off without leave a residue.
If there is an adhesive, on your plastic, peel back a corner and then peel the rest back holding the loose end as flat against the remaining material as possible (like you are waxing your leg) this will take most of the adhesive with it. If any residue remains clean it with very gentle soap and water, or a cleaner that is okay for use on acrylic or plastic (Other cleaners will make tiny abrasions in the surface which will eventually craze and dull the plastic and collect dirt)
When you have both protective sheets off the plastic set it aside and get out a sheet of graph paper. Any size grid you want is fine, later this will be handy for aligning things, think of it as a built in ruler. If you want to add any markings or guidelines to the graph paper do it now.
Cut the graph paper to the size of the board, making sure the edges line up with the graph.
take the tombow adhesive and lay down a thin strip along the very edge of the back of your plastic and carefully press the graph paper down, making sure any markings you made are on the adhered side. (So they show through the plastic)
Take the cover paper (for these, I used a piece of charcoal sketch paper) cut it to the size of the board with about an inch extra on the fold over edge. For instance if your board is 4" x 6" cut the cover paper to 5" x 6 ".
Line the edges up and fold the extra inch over the back of the board creasing as you go so it wraps tightly. Take the tombow adhesive and affix the fold-over to the back of the graph paper on the back edge of the board.
Now take your masking or white art tape and cover the graph paper almost to the edge. (this will protect the paper from harm, you can also use funky colored duct tape for this step to as some personalization or decoration)
Cover the foldover from the cover paper as well, but none of this tape should wrap around to the front. So just shy of the edges.
Here's the finished back of one of mine for reference
Fold the cover down over the front, and take a strip of tape and cover the "spine" on top of the fold, then take strips to cover the edages of the cover paper. (you can also cover the cover paper with fancy duct tape, adding tape to the paper cover protects it from tearing or getting ratty and makes it easier to keep from getting creased or folded)
now flip is over so the drawing surface is up and using the graph paper as a guide, tape off the edges (see the top picture for reference). This step protects the edges of the plastic from harm and you from the edges of the plastic, which, while not as sharp as glass, are most likely not smoothed down.
Now this plastic accepts Frog tape (yellow tack) BEAUTIFULLY if you prefer to tape down cards. But you can also use a spring or bulldog or script clip with them, or, if you prefer, rubber bands to hold your work steady.
And now you have a little drawing board just the right size for artist trading cards and art card edition originals, that's sturdy, can easily fit in your purse or drawing kit and didn't cost an arm and a leg to make!
All total on mine I paid for the plastic only because I already had everything else, (so for me this cost about 2$ to make two) if you need to buy ALL the materials expect to pay about 20$ total. (everything but the plastic will be enough to make a LOT of drawing boards, they don't sell it in "one drawing board " quantities)
If you don't think you will ever use the rest of the pad of graph paper, then use your computer graphics program of choice to make a grid and print it out. (A pad of graph paper can be pricey and if you aren't ever going to use it for anything else you can save some money by making our own grid)
But, I am sure, most of you artists out there already have all or most of this stuff or excellent substitutes.
So enjoy, and get out and make some art!