Which easel to choose?

In order to answer the question: which easel to choose let us first determine what you will do on it and for whom you choose it. Be sure to consider how it fits into your workspace. For professionals, this question does not arise, this problem is more tormented by beginners.

Therefore, first you need to define the main criteria by which you will choose which easel to buy. And only then you will consider in detail what kind of easels there are.

Nowadays, there are a lot of easels from which to choose, they are created for completely different needs and even characters. You will be surprised how actually important are personal preferences. You can take several artists working in the same genre and format. Some of them prefer huge, stable and heaped aggregates, but others prefer an ordinary easel, or, for example, a simple metal tripod.

With what and where will you draw?

This must be determined immediately in order to understand whether you need to attach sheets of paper. If yes, then you need a sketch-board (a board on which the sheet will be fastened). The only model of easels, which have a built in sketch-board, is an “easel-cracker“. For all other easels, you need to buy it separately.

What sizes of canvas will you work with?

  • Small – (album sheet, A3) – desktop and portable easels, painting-boxes.
  • Medium – (up to 1 meter) – the usual A-shaped Lyre easel.
  • Large – (1-2 meters or more) – Lyre and Stationary Easel.

Undecided yet – the most universal, in this case, the option would be an Lyre easel.

Who will draw?


If you are a novice artist, do not waste money on an expensive easel. You still do not know why you would need these or that frills. It is not necessary to overpay for the varnished beech. Untreated pine also will serve you for decades.

The best option is an Lyre easel, because those easels are versatile, and allow you to draw on formats up to 1-1.5 meters. It’s more than enough. Also you can look closer at the usual “easel-cracker“, or portable easels and tripods.


In this case, the most common and simple easel-cracker will be perfect. Comes as no surprise, all children’s art studios and art schools are equipped with such an easels. Also an excellent option for the home would be a desktop easel for watercolor painting. But, do you know that most children love to draw on a Whatman paper? Watch your child.

In this case, the desktop version of easel will be small to him. Pay more attention to the growth of the child and the height of the easel. It is good that the child will work not only standing, but also sitting.

Those who do not like large formats

If a person likes to paint on the album sheets, and never takes the larger format, then the one deffinetely dont need a large easel. Pay attention to the painting-boxes and desktop easels. If an artist has (or assumes) to work with A3, A2 (50×70) formats, then the above easels will also work, but also look at universal portable easels: easel-cracker or Lyre easel.

Real professional

This category of people already has very specific professional requirements for working tools. And they are dictated by creative bias and financial considerations. Therefore, it can be completely different.

Where are you planning to draw?


There are special easels created for drawing outdoors. These are, of course, well-known painting-boxes. But not only. There are sketch boards and portable easels. Sketch boards are ergonomic, same as painting-boxes, but normally they do not have legs. During the work, the sketch board is placed on your lap or some other surface. For example, parapet. But it weighs less, and it is more convenient to carry it with you.

Also relatively light is the portable easel. But it does not have a special box for paints. The painting-box weighs about 3 kilograms empty, plus you still put paints and other materials in it.

At home or in the studio

For work at home, you can use any model of easel, so that it fits comfortably into the apartment and satisfies your needs. A painting-box also can be an option. For working in a studio, there is a different criteria. After all, as a rule, you no longer need to think about dimensions of an easel.

Everything will fit into studio, including Stationary and integrated easels.

Which easel to choose?

1. Easel-cracker

easel cracker

The most simple and very common model. Such easels are used in art schools and colleges. Despite the fact that it is the first image that first of all emerges when we think of “easel”, its construction is rather primitive. It is not very tall. A feature of the “easel-crackers” is a built-in sketch board. Such an easel has its pros and cons.


– low price. The cheapest of all

– you can work while sitting on a chair

– when folded, it becomes flat and can be pushed behind a cupboard, or under a bed. It takes relatively little space in the apartment


– the paper to such an easel is attached with the buttons, because no holders are provided. For student works it is not important, but for professionals it is often very critical

– there is either no stand for paints or has a very narrow board. (Choose such an easel where this shelf will be present. By the way, then it will be possible to install a small stretcher with a canvas on it)

– the structure is not very stable, the legs may move, the easel will may fall

The most common easel type “cracker” is perfect for a novice artist, for children and teen-agers. For children, it is especially good because they can work comfortably, both sitting and standing (due to their small growth). The size of the easel-cracker is standard under the A1 format. Although there are more and less options.

2. Lyre easel

lyre easel

It is called “lyre” because of its shape, which vaguely resembles the ancient Greek lyre. You can also meet it under the name “A-shaped easel”. This is a tripod design that allows you to work more comfortably with a large number of different formats than the usual student’s easel (“cracker”).

You will not be able to attach the sheet of paper to them. You can only work on paper or canvas, fixed on stretchers or plywood. That, in essence, is not a disadvantage. For paper, you can buy a special board.

A good thing for easels of this design is the presence of the upper canvas holder and the possibility of adjusting the angle of inclination and height. If there is no such a thing, then it is more appropriate to speak of a simple tripod, and not about “Lyre”. “Lyre” easel can be of various modifications: from completely simple one, to complete with a diverse number of additional shelves, cupholders and glasses, drawers. The price changes accordingly.


– stable enough

– because of the triangular design it is convenient to put in a corner, which can be useful in a small room

– possibility of modifications

– convenience of working with canvas on stretchers of different sizes and orientations


– long enough that hinder its transportation

– since it is assembled on bolts, it is difficult to fold it, in contrast to the “crackers” or the sketch pad

– with careless handling, you can turn it over

A-shaped easels are the most popular of all easels, because they are suitable for using them both at home and in the studio, they give the opportunity to work with large and small formats. There are a large number of modifications of “Lyre”, and you can even find one to work while sitting.


3. Mast easel

mast easel

Mast easels are structurally the most simple ones. But they are quite rare in the sale. They lack of strength and flexibility inherent to professional constructions, although usually they can change the angle of inclination of the canvas and the height. In general, they are quite compact.


– lightness and compactness

– some customization options


– imbalance

– difficult to work with large formats

– not too convenient to fold

Not a popular model. If you need something simpler and more foldable, then give an eye on the easel “crackers“. If you need any additional features, then there are Lyre easels.  Mast easels occupy some middle place between them. And in terms of price and quality they are doubtful. But they look very elegant, so more often they are used not for painting, but for exhibitions.


4. Stationary easel


The name of stationary easel speaks for itself: those easels are like machine tools for painting. They are distinguished by complexity, large size, and heavy weight. Stationary easels are quite diverse, because they are endowed with great customization options for themselves, various fasteners and special equipment, and even windlass. Maintain a lot of weight. Designed for drawing heavy large-scale paintings of huge formats.


– you can write pictures of large sizes

– a special system of clamps allows you to securely fasten canvas at different heights

– steady and reliable design


– large size, unwieldiness and weight

– high price

– cannot be unfolded, and take up a lot of space

Stationary easels are not suitable for a standard apartment, they are designed for workshops and studios, they are used by artists, professionals and renovators, who have special requirements. And even despite the fact that the industry offers lightweight and reduced versions of stationary easels, some of them can even be folded, but do not rush into buying such serious equipment.

stationary easel

5. Desktop easel

Desktop easels, generally speaking, are half of an easel without legs, most often, looks like “Lyre”. That easel is definitely for home, not studio. They, in fact, were developed for small premises, apartments. Now there are a lot of models of desktop easels, including folding ones. Desktop easels can be used for drawing small formats. On the other hand they do not take any place on the floor at all.


– makes it very easy to choose how to work – standing or sitting – right in the process of drawing. Just rearrange the easel on the surface of different heights

– light

– takes up very little space

– relatively inexpensive

– suitable for both adults and children

– do not need a shelf for paints, etc., because everything is on the table


– glide on the supporting surface

– unstable, there is a danger to mess up the work

– it is impossible to work with large formats

Desktop easels are made for homes only. Everyone can use them, but they are especially good for those who can only work while sitting, for example, seniors. Also, they are good for children, because it is easy to fit them to any height.


6. Painting-box

painting box

A special kind of easels, created specifically for trips to the open air. They are small wooden or metal boxes, inside of which are placed the necessary tools and materials. The paper is fixed, depending on the design, either with the help of a special frame with adjustable inclination, or on the wall of the lid of the same box.

Painting-box has legs. Structurally, this is a box on removable or folding legs. You can put paints and brushes inside of it. When unfolded, it becomes like a small easel.


– portable, and with working materials

– small by itself, therefore it takes up little space in the apartment

– very easily and compactly folded

– presence of a box for paints

– ideal when traveling by car


– designed to be worn on the shoulder or in the arm, but heavy enough for this

– supports only small formats

– high price

painting box

7. Portable easel and tripod

portable easel

Despite the fact that these easels are quite different among themselves, it makes no sense to talk about them separately. Because they have a common sense: it is an attempt to find a compromise between mobility, compactness and convenience. And as to compromises, one has to sacrifice something.

If we are talking about a portable easel, then when folded, they are very compact, and while unfolded they are normal size. This quality is convenient for occasional work at home and outdoors.

If we are talking about tripods, they are very light and compact, quite stable, but there may be problems with formats and comfort. There are no shelves, holders or paper clips. But there is the ultimate mobility.


– compact size, easy to fold and disassemble

– convenient to store and transport. Tripods are also very light, easy to carry around

– multipurposeness


– instability or fragility of the structure

– there may be problems with large formats

Portable easels are very versatile on the one hand and an abundance of various designs on the other. For example, there is even a model with a built-in folding bench.

So, those are examples of easels which you can choose. Hopefully, you will find the one for you and if you will have a question what does drawing actually will give to you, have a look here.

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