Introduction: Portable Sketch Board

I like drawing. I keep a notepad and a set of pens near me every moment. No matter if I visualize some ideas related to my work or draw for fun. I like sketching or taking notes anytime and anywhere. But it becomes not very convenient when I am commuting or traveling.

This Instructable is about a thing, which helps me to draw and write anywhere: in a subway, in a park, on a bus, in an airplane.

Step 1: The Problem and the Solution

I started with the problem exploration. What are inconveniences?

  • No surface for the right hand (I am right handed).
  • Left hand becomes numb soon.
  • No place to store pencils.
  • Sometimes it's hard to find an appropriate background for taking a photo of the sketch. I use Office lens app to save my drafts.
  • Also, I often use my cellphone and taking handwritten notes on paper after reading something in the cellphone.

So I understood that I need a drawing board with a pen case integrated. It should be large enough to support my right hand as well as convenience for holding by the left hand.

Also, I need something for fixing a notepad and cellphone.

Step 2: Tools, Materials, and Resources

The were two steps: prototyping and final product making.

I made some prototypes of cardboard. It is easy to work and cheap material, it is ideal for prototyping. You need:

  • Some cardboard
  • Knife, scissors and cutting mat
  • Ruller and pencil
  • Glue (I used PVA)
  • Vinyl film (optional)

After some experiments with prototypes, it was time for final product making by laser cutting. You need:

  • Software for vector graphics (I used Inkscape)
  • Laser cutter or a place where you could place the order for cutting.
  • Materials for laser cutting (I used 3 mm plywood).
  • Some glue suitable for the material you have chosen.
  • About 1.5 m of elastic ribbon for fixing. Needle and thread to sew the ribbon.

Step 3: Prototyping

At this step, I wanted to find out

  • Is it a good idea or not?
  • What is the best size?
  • What is the best way for notepad fixing?

After some experiments, I have found that the best size for me is 245x400 mm. It is large enough for all my tasks. Otherwise, it is easy to store in a backpack. I suppose that the optimal should correlate with your high (actually hand length), so if you're are shorter than 186 cm it would be better to make your board smaller.

The process is quite obvious.

Firstly you need to cut three parts. I recommend to cut them in the opposite direction. Multy-layer cardboard becomes much harder if layers are oriented orthogonally.

As an option, you may use vinyl film for decoration the face and back sides.

After that, you should glue them.

Also, you need to sew two elastic ribbons which will fix the notebook and other stuff.

Step 4: Final Version Making

See the vector model. You may change it for you:

  • make it larger to smaller if you are taller or shorter than 186 cm;
  • change gaps for ribbon according to the ribbon's width;
  • change the picture on the back side as you want.

There are three pairs of gaps for elastic ribbons: the horizontal one and two vertical for right-handed and left-handed. I engraved the portrait of Instructables Robot and QR-code with my contacts at the back side.

After laser cutting glue both parts. I made it of plywood and glued by PVA.

Step 5: Usecases

I hope you will find this board helpful for many cases, like:

  • sketching in any places, especially when you are traveling or commuting;
  • taking notes when reading ebook or smartphone;
  • editing printed docs while commuting;
  • doing homework on a park bench;
  • taking photos with Office-lens app;
  • easily store in a backpack.

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