Monday, May 29, 2017

Your Sketch Easel Designs

Today I'm pleased to share your design innovations for the Sketch Easel. Thanks to each of you who contributed photos and descriptions.

Rob Anglin

"As suggested by James, I used 1/4 inch oak plywood and I added solid-dimensional ¼-inch oak at key reinforcement locations. 

"I used torsion hinges as suggested by James. I “special ordered” the Sugatsune HG-TS15 Stainless Steel 304 Torque Hinge [links go to Amazon]. These tiny hinges are the key to success for this tiny, light-weight and hyper-functional easel, since they hold sufficient weight to keep the easel steady during use."
[Note the white corrugated plastic diffuser. --JG]

"The base is an old Manfrotto tripod. The quick-release plate was lost for a long time, but I molded a replacement from my daughter's clay stuff, and it fits exactly. [Note, you could use Magic Sculpt or a piece of hard wood such as oak to create a missing quick release plate --JG]

"The sun shield was a basic car window sunshade. I just unsewed it to make an oval shape. That way, I have the perfect size to fit into the clamp. 

The clamp is a cheap support for iPad and iPhone. You can change the size as you like and it clamp it to your liking on the camera tripod. The slope is also adjustable. 

At the end of my painting session, I can just roll it into itself so it can fit in a pocket. I also added a folding lid support bracket, which allows me to set the angle between the palette board and the paper board. I fixed also a extruded aluminum edging on the tray so that I can put my most useful pencils here while working. 

I always have one or two clamps around the feet of the tripod, if I paint on moleskine book to keep it open. If I paint on a single piece of paper, I like to fix it with some mini adhesive tape. My palette attaches to the palette with a neodymium magnet.

I also made myself a pouch that I put around my waist with a common leather belt. I wear it all the time: to go fetch my daughter at the end of the school, for going to the restaurant. It is not bigger than a women purse, but I made it exactly for what I want to have on hand.

So it contains a lot of stuff:
Some watercolors pencils, a large range of travel brushes, water brush, ink brush, mini adhesive tape, a little water bottle on the side, erasers, a little wooden board on the back pocket to support the paper if I have not got my tripod, some pieces of watercolor paper, a regular ballpoint pen, pencils, and of course, my little round palette with watercolors. There is even a pocket for my phone on the front (which is not on the picture because I used it for the photo). 

On the belt itself, I put my collapsible bucket. It doesn't take up much space, but when put in shape, it is large enough to contain plenty of water and I can hang it on the tripod's neck.

Mark Fiske

The cigar box measures 6.5" x 11".

I added some hardware to support the lid when it is opened.

On the bottom of the cigar box, I have added a 1/4-20 t-nut for a standard tripod mount and some rubber feet when sitting on a table top.

On the inside, I created a custom watercolor block to fit inside the lid and an extra panel of wood that serves as another support for a palette and brushes.

The inside of the box will hold a number of travel size palettes.

Here are a few different set ups.

Here is the rig all set up, "in the wild."

Amanda Williams

"You may remember my steering wheel easel? This is one of my other ones - a lightweight sketch easel based on your design.

More pictures and details are on Amanda's web page.

Robb Gibbs

"Here's some shots of my homemade easel. 

"The pencil tray on the bottom is meant to fold inward while the easel is folded up since the hinges don't allow the two sides to fold flat. So it's a support. 

"I can't wait for your new video to get some ideas for a new version to build!"
Judy Palermo

"I used pegboard because it is lightweight, and little wooden pegs fit in the holes at any height to hold the canvas panel. This pegboard open is only 15", so it's only good for 8x10 panels at most. Home Depot cut the pegboard for me, because I don't have many tools.

"I first made this because I like a vertical paper palette, and that is held on by clips. I have a little plastic paint holder to squeeze paints underneath, that's secured with Velcro; nothing falls off, and it has a cover, so leftover paint can be stored for a couple of days. With clips I hang a plastic condiment jar, for a nice lightweight brush cup. A couple of minutes to setup, and I'm painting!

"But the main gem is the little shelf I made, from a metal whisky tin. I attached 2 small clothing hooks to the back, and it hangs on the easel legs, handy for a medium cup, some tubes of paint etc.

"This is pretty bare-bones, but the low cost of it suits me for traveling. Everything is on a common aluminum travel easel. This one is a cheapie, I only got this because it collapses down to 14", so it doesn't stick out of the backpack so much. The other ones, like Winsor Newton, are built much better but they only pack down to 22". 

"I'm 5'4", and this gets to the height I need, but if you are taller you will probably have to go with the bigger aluminum frames."

Dmitry Kharitonov

"Well this was definitely a new experience for me.

"At first the project started as just two pieces of plywood connected with piano hinge but it starts to evolve quite fast, certainly not without help of already created content by people all around the world and especially you James, in the next year i'll try to improve it even more.

"I think there are still a large amount of things and upgrades that we can make.

A few things that I noted - everything was built around hinges, their size, type and reliability, and nothing should be in the way of your hand and tools, even hinges."

Al Granberg
"I built this sketch easel based on the info from your blog. I plan to make a few more, so I look forward to getting your new DVD.

"I used 3/8 plywood, 12” wide by 8” deep. I added a lip to keep pencils from rolling off. Holes are cut for magnets and a T-nut mounting flange that will accept the threaded screw from a quick-release tripod mounting plate.

"I used Forstner bits to cut clean, precise and flat holes. The Spade bit (on left) can tear and splinter the edges of the holes.

"The 3/4 inch ceramic disc magnets and 1/4" x 20 Pronged Tee Nut come in packages. The magnets I used are 3/4” wide x 3/16” thick and worked fine with 3/8” plywood. However, there might be a problem using these on 1/4” plywood, since you would have to drill a hole precisely 3/16” deep, leaving about 1/16” left, before drilling completely through the plywood. This might be difficult even for those using a drill press. So, your magnets, at 1/16” thick, are a much better choice for 1/4” plywood.

"The magnets are glued into the holes with a few drops of super glue. The slightly countersunk hole is ready for the T-nut that will driven in with a hammer and wood dowel.

"Here’s the finished easel after a few seasons of use. Two T-nuts are used for additional mounting options.

"Here’s the easel on location. Discarded applesauce cups with glued washers are used for water containers. A plastic watercolor palette fits snugly between the hinges and lip.

"Here’s the easel set up for casein. The extra height of the easel allows the use of Pentalic 7" x 10" watercolor field book. I use an ancient Grumbacher metal watercolor palette. The magnets hold well, but the lip does not allow the palette to lay flat. I’m looking for a metal lid as a palette that will fit the space."
Thanks again, everybody. I hope I have included everything you sent me. If I overlooked your email, my apologies. Send me a reminder, and I'll include yours in the next post.

Don't miss the previous post: Your DIY Pochade Easel Designs
Be part of the maker community. Get yourself a copy of "How to Make a Sketch Easel".

The 1080p HD download is available now for just $14.95 from Gumroad.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Materials List for Sketch Easel

As promised, here's a materials list for putting together the sketch easel and the diffuser. These are all referenced in my new Gumroad video.

Sketch Easel


Oak plywood 1/4 x 24 x 24
Southco adjustable torque hinge (3)
3/8" Sheet Metal Screws Stainless Steel (12)
1/4-20 x 5/16 x 3/4 Inch Tee Nuts (2)
Thumb Screws, 1/4-20 x 3/4-Inch (2)
Small brass hinge (1)
Nalgene jar (2-Ounce)
1/4 x 1/16-inch Neodymium magnets (17-20)
Spring clamps
Gorilla glue
Magic Sculpt 1 Lb. or Plumbers' epoxy putty
Wood stain
Tung oil finish
Metal watercolor set
AmazonBasics 60-Inch Tripod
QB-4W quick release platform (square type for Velbon or Amazon tripod) (2)

Polyethylene coated (freezer) paper (For making an oil palette)
Friction lid support (optional, if you want to make a camera bar)

Drill Press, 10-Inch (optional) or handheld electric drill
Brad point dowel bit 1/4 inch or Forstner bits (for drilling flat bottomed holes)
High speed drill set—small drills for screw pilots and 5/16 Inch drill bit for T-nut.
Nail set or just a big nail.
Spade bit, 3/4 inch
4 inch belt sander (optional)
Sandpaper, 80 grit and  240 Grit
Circular saw with a plywood cutting blade (Optional. Your lumber supply or hardware store will usually be able to cut the wood for you if you don't have a saw)
Electric jig saw
or a Hand saw and a Coping saw
Aluminum ruler
Phillips screw driver
Round (rat tail) file (you could also use sandpaper on a thin piece of wood)
Sharpie marker

Light diffuser

If you want to make the diffuser from scratch, you'll need white rip stop nylon and a dressmaker's pencil2mm carbon fiber rods (for small diffuser) or .125" carbon fiber rod (for longer spans), plus a cross connector. You'll also need twill tape and access to a sewing machine.

Square diffuser

For the diffuser mounted on the pedestal base, which fits on its own camera tripod:1/2 in. x 2 in. x 4 ft. "appearance" board
QB-4W quick release platform (1)
1" sheet metal screw (4)
QB-4W quick release platform (1)

Trapezoid diffuser
For the base that fits on the sketch easel's gripper, you'll need to extract the hardware from a Helping hand magnifier tool

Aluminum frame diffuser
For the aluminum frame design, you'll need an: Aluminum hanging file folder frame (makes two diffusers)

Branch diffuser
For the branch diffuser, you'll need the white rip stop nylon and a branch with a flat growth habit. I used gray birch and let it cure a few months before I used it. I ran coated picture wire around the slotted tips of the branches before sewing the seams. You'll need a needle and thread because you can't machine-sew the edge.

Artist's umbrella
If you do use a traditional artist's white umbrella, I've found the Jullian gives good light, but it does get damaged if it hits the ground too hard. To keep it from taking down your easel, you can clamp it to a C-stand (century stand), which is heavy, but sturdy, and you'll use it for a lot of other uses.

Kite option
Alternate methods: Instead of buying the parts separately, you can buy a cheap white kite for $10.00.
It's 30 inches across, and includes the kite sticks, twill tape, and white rip stop nylon.
You can also use white corrugated plastic for diffuser, and save having to deal with fabric and frame.
This information is in reference to the video "How to Make a Sketch Easel," which shows you how to build both the easel and the diffuser.

The 1080p HD download is available now for just $14.95 from Gumroad.
The DVD version is available for $24.50, and it includes a slide show. The DVD is also available on Amazon.

(I couldn't get to a good enough wifi connection to upload it to Sellfy and Cubebrush, but I should have that by Tuesday.)