View Full Version : Illustration Board????

Sandy K
07-11-2007, 11:13 AM
I have been into Pen and Ink lately. Been sick and it is a quiet activity for me. I really don't want to do my regular acrylics right now. Anyhow, I have some Acid-Free 14 ply Hot Press Crescent Illustration Board that was lying around for my Pen and Ink. Just for fun I put an Acrylic wash on it. Just a hint of color, it is so watered down. No buckle at all. Seems to work beautfully. I was wondering why not do it with a watercolor wash. I think it is great because of no buckling.

Anyone ever done anything with Acrylics on Illustration Board? Curious as to how it holds up over the long run.

07-11-2007, 11:21 AM
It seems to be a popular surface with some pretty big artists (Carl Brenders for example).

Sorry to hijack your thread, but I too am curious about this. I am also wondering if it has to be framed under glass.

I recently switched from colored pencil to acrylics so I could do bigger pieces that don't need to be framed with glass. Am currently painting on MDF but I hate preparing it.

If illustration board has to be framed with glass, that would defeat the purpose.

Any additional info would be appreciated.


07-11-2007, 12:10 PM
Lots of folks use illustration board, some recently here on the acrylics forum. I have used it for years.

My thought would be to frame it with plexiglas as it is a delicate surface, in reality not unlike watercolor paper paper with watercolors. When you thin acrylics down severely they may not have the same adhesion qualities as in their full form and could wipe off if not protected. Any surface like this seems to need a bit more protection in my mind. Others may have differing views.

07-11-2007, 12:32 PM
I love using illustration board but I only use it for my drawings. I've never painted on the board. It is a great surface for graphite however. You can smooth out tones and do things on the board that can't be done on any other paper that I know off.

07-11-2007, 02:54 PM
Illustration board is a great surface for acrylics. It is sturdy, doesn't warp or buckle, and it's very economical. If you are working in thin washes in a watercolor style, I would advise framing it under protective glass or plexiglass. It is a paper product, after all. As Howard mentioned, if you have added a lot of water to thin your paints into washes, they may not have as strong a bond on the surface as full-strength paint will.

However, if you paint with heavier applications of acrylic paints, mostly opaque layers, and if the illustration board is fairly thick and sturdy, you don't really have to frame it under glass (providing that the entire surface of the illustration board is covered with paint--no bare, non-painted areas showing). I would give such a painting a protective coat of varnish and provide a stiff protective backing board, then go ahead and frame it like an oil painting. The frame and the backing board are enough support to keep the painting from warping. I have done this with smaller acrylic paintings and they have been just fine over the years. I don't think I'd frame a really large acrylic painting on illustration board this way, however. But that's just my own preference.

As an extra measure of protection for the painting, you can also give the back of the illustration board one or two coats of clear acrylic medium to help seal it against moisture or dirt penetration. The author of one of my acrylic painting books recommends this procedure in the demonstrations she does of working on illustration board. But I would always recommend adding a piece of archival backing board behind the illustration board in the frame.

If you like to work on a gessoed surface, another option of working with acrylics on illustration board is to give the illustration board one or more coats of gesso to prepare the surface. I like to tint my gesso to a medium light gray (about a 3 or 4 on a 10-step gray scale).

A painting done on a stretched canvas, whether oil paints or acrylics, is just as much at risk of damage in an open frame if something really tears up its surface as a painting done on heavy illustration board. My own personal preference is to frame works on paper that are done in watercolor style with traditional matting and glass. But I like to see paintings done in heavier, opaque acrylics treated like an oil painting and framed without glass. As long as you take proper care of them, they should be fine.


07-11-2007, 04:49 PM
Love it. Have had many over 20 years. No issue here with those, so far.
I like hotpress for pen and ink type work, and cold press for more painterly work. I prefer Strathmore but Peterborough and Bainbridge are ok. Acrylic can be used in a more watercolourlike technique on ill. brd.
Definitely, needs framing with a mat and glass.

07-11-2007, 06:11 PM
This is a very informative thread, I have enjoyed reading everyone's post. Jan

Sandy K
07-11-2007, 07:29 PM
thank you everyone for your responses. Guess it can be used...yippee!!!

Jocelyn, I just looked up the Bainbridge Illustration Board at Dick Blicks and it never mentions it being acid-free...that bothers me a little bit but the price is right!!

07-11-2007, 08:43 PM
Hiya guys,

I have been painting on double weight cold press illustration board for over 40 years now and never had any problems with them. Great texture, no warping and they hold up forever...that is if you coat the front, sides and back with acrylic medium or varnish.


Sandy K
07-11-2007, 10:20 PM
Hal, what is double weight? All I ever see is the plys....14 ply, 18 ply, 20 ply........

07-11-2007, 11:40 PM
Hiya Sandy,

This may sound like I am trying to be funny but I'm not. It's double the thickness of a single weight illustration board also double the price. It's better for cutting stencils into and also holds its shape when you apply lots of paint with a plaette knife.. It doesn't warp and if it does, just turn it over and coat the back of it with water using your brush. It dries flat.


07-12-2007, 12:41 AM
I've just started using Crescent hot pressed illustration board and love it as long as you get the right number - I like it heavy. Haven't tried the cold pressed yet, but even though I prefer the tooth of canvas, I was pleasantly surprised with the smooth slick surface of the hot pressed...especially since I didn't enjoy mdf.

On my little mini paintings recently I prepped the surface with nice layer of gesso and liked that even more! Covered the back too. Finally when finished I varnish front and back.

07-12-2007, 09:49 AM
Glass is used mainly to keep dust and grime away from an unvarnished surface; not a problem with acrylics if all of the surface is painted and varnished. A special UV glass can help protect against light damage to the paper also, but it's not required. I usually mount my paper pieces to a firmer backing like hardboard or foamboard for added protection, varnish the surface and frame without glass.

If the illustration board is 100% rag and acid-free it will hold up fine, and any open areas will not yellow.

Sandy K
07-12-2007, 10:12 AM
LOL....Celeste, what is the right number for the Crescent..........I was think the super smooth Crescent C-line????????? lol.....weird that is your name on here.

07-12-2007, 10:38 AM
Hope you are well now Sandy. Nothing worse than being unwell and not being able to alleviate the boredom.

Sandy K
07-12-2007, 10:53 AM
Thank you Stephen. Every day I am stronger. The surgery was a stent to open an artery and not major surgery by any means but it has zapped me out. I will be fine...just takes time. Tuesday, I saw the surgeon and he has lifted all restrictions off me. So now I am a "free" woman...lol

Sandy K
07-12-2007, 02:55 PM
oops, Celeste, I meant Crescent HiLine Illustration Board, not CLine

07-12-2007, 11:57 PM
I think what I actually got the first time was either 200 or 201 Hot Pressed Studio Line. See here: http://www.crescent-cardboard.com/

I bought it at Hobby Lobby and didn't know there were so many choices!

07-13-2007, 09:53 PM

Jocelyn, I just looked up the Bainbridge Illustration Board at Dick Blicks and it never mentions it being acid-free...that bothers me a little bit but the price is right!!

A good quality illustration board will typically be a combination of something like 80-percent cotton rag and 20-percent wood product. It is very durable and has excellent working qualities but it is not truly archival.

You can buy a higher quality of illustration board that is 100-percent cotton rag and acid-free. If you really want the best quality for archival reasons, then this is the way to go.

That said, I have been working with the 80/20 type of illustration board for more years than I'd like to admit. As long as all surfaces are completely coated and you give the paintings proper care, there is no reason that they should not last many, many years. I have some small paintings that are over 20 years old and there is no sign of any yellowing or deterioration whatsoever. Even some of my graphite pencil drawings that were matted and framed under glass more than 10 years ago are not showing any signs of yellowing in the areas of the white paper that still shows. I'm sure there would be visible yellowing, however, if the paper had been exposed to the open air for all those years.

If the illustration board you are considering buying is 100-percent cotton rag and acid-free, it should specifically say so. If it doesn't say so in the product description, I would assume it is not the truly archival product.