Have I Found My Ultimate Sketching Setup?

I've been test driving this new setup for a couple of days now, and it has solved many of my "too many things to hold" problems! Finally I can use my great Escoda travel brushes again, instead of just a waterbrush! It was impossible to hold the sketchbook, palette, water cup, sponge, and brush, all at the same time, but those difficult days are over. This very lightweight setup holds the book open for me as well as enabling me to hold everything on my lap or supported with one hand, leaving the other hand free for my brush.

Here's what you need to make this hold-everything, light-weight sketch board:

  • 9x16" piece of Coroplast (available at Go to Sign Making Supplies --> Blanks and Banners --> Coroplast)
  • 5x8" to 6x9" stitch-bound sketchbook
  • A few strips of Velcro
  • Watercolor pan set
  • Plastic oil painter's palette cup or double cups
  • A few extra-large metal binder clips
  • small piece of sponge


  1. Cut a piece of Coroplast to 9x16", so that it will fit into your backpack. (If you've got one of those extra-tall backpacks, you can go to 9x18".)
  2. Open the sketchbook to the next available page, and clip the open book to the left side of the Coroplast. (If you're left-handed, clip the book to the right side.)
  3. Position the open watercolor pan set on the upper right, allowing it to extend past the Coroplast if necessary. (Upper left if you're left-handed.)
  4. Using Industrial Strength Velcro cut to size, fasten the palette to that spot on the Coroplast. I fastened mine both on the lid and on the bottom of the palette.
  5. Clip an oil painter's plastic palette cup onto the free bottom corner of the Coroplast. If you like separating clean and dirty water, you can use the double cups.
  6. If you have room left over, clip on a piece of sponge to wipe your brush.

That's it! The photo below shows the setup with a 5 1/2 x 8 1/2" Stillman & Birn sketchbook, which allows for a little more room to hold the other things than the 6x9" books.

Of course, this idea can be adapted and the size reconfigured for whatever your preferred sketchbook may be. It is also equally effective for gouache as it is for watercolor.


  1. I'm sorry I don't take the time to comment more often here, but I wanted to say your blog is wonderful. I sooo love this set up! I'm digging through my supplies now, checking to see if I can whip one up without having to go to the store! lol!
    Thank you!

  2. This is ingenious!

    - Tina

  3. A Really excellent solution to how to make on the spot sketches. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Small bits of content which are explained in details, helps me understand the topic, thank you!


  5. I love this setup. In a post on Wetcanvas, you mentioned cutting the board in half and using Gorilla tape. I'm having a hard time picturing how this stays secure when open. Do you have a photo?