Author: Lorna_Hannett, Contributing Editor
|Hello and welcome to what I hope will be an interesting and informative article on using scratchboard to create a different kind of portrait.
For those new to scratching, I'll start with a brief explanation of how it's done. I use clayboard black - a masonite board covered in white kaolin clay and sprayed with India ink. The picture is produced by scratching off the ink to reveal the white clay.
Below is a photo of tools that can be used to scratch. My preference is the exacto knife because the blade has a very fine tip. I use white chacopaper to transfer my image to the clayboard because it leaves no waxy residue, is easy to clean off and it shows up well.
Now we're ready to start "Joseph".
|After making a sketch of my image, I transfer a basic outline to the 8X10 clayboard using white chacopaper. I include key points such as the eyes, nose and mouth. I have lightened the contrast of the image to the left so you can see the transfer.
I start scratching the eye area - I like to start with the eyes because they seem to give the image some life.
I make very tiny crosshatch marks, using my blade very lightly at first. Some people go over the whole picture lightly in this way, then go back and scratch in more detail. I prefer to almost finish one area before moving on to the next.
After working on the eye, I move on to the teeth, because I think this will be a difficult area to get right.
Sometimes I scratch away a little too much and an area becomes whiter than I want. When this happens I use watered-down India ink to tone it down. I test the ink mixture on a scrap piece of scratchboard to make sure it isn't too dark. I apply the ink with a small paintbrush on the area I want to tone down and have a tissue in my other hand to dab at it right away, so as not to make the board too wet. I must then wait for the board to dry thoroughly before scratching in that area again.
|Here is a closeup showing the scratches.
It is useful to keep a scrap piece of scratchboard on hand in order to try out different types of marks, to test how light or hard to scratch with the different tools or, as mentioned earlier, to test applying and removing ink.
One important tip is to make sure your hands are very clean and free of oil in order not to leave greasy marks on the clayboard. I rest my hand on a very soft felt cloth as I am working. When the work is completed it is sealed with an acrylic spray to protect the porous clay. This spray can help to hide any fingerprints that may have marked the clayboard, however, it doesn't always cover all of them. So, it is better to try to avoid making these accidental hand prints if you can.
|I now move on to the nose and mouth area.
After lightly scratching in the nose, I work over the area again, building shapes and highlights with layers of marks. I use the same technique on the lips, keeping the upper lip fairly dark as it will be partly hidden by the moustache. After the lips and teeth, I proceed to the moustache and chin hairs.
At this point I notice that the right eye, cheek and teeth are a bit too bright. I use watered-down ink to make them recede. I also noticed the black line around the bottom lip is too black, so I lighten it with more scratches.
|Here is a shot showing the work so far. Next I will work on the left eye.|