View Full Version : Can you make scratchboard prints?

07-29-2014, 02:57 PM
Hi everyone,

I am getting ready for an upcoming art show, and I was wondering if there is a way to make crisp, accurate prints that would be a good enough quality to sell? I usually scan my scratchboards, and they look accurate on the screen, but when I try to print them, they either get too grainy (the lines made with the scratchboard tools are overly defined), or it gets so black and inky it doesn't look very good at all. I haven't had much luck having images developed in stores either.

Can sellable prints be made from scratchboards? I'm not sure how to get them made. Thanks for any help and advice! :)

P.S. Sorry if there's a thread on this topic already; I couldn't seem to find one.

07-29-2014, 03:42 PM
You need to lighten the image so isn't so dark. And you need to save them at 300dpi or try to print smaller than the original. Anything less than 300dpi tends to do what you are talking about. I take mine to a graphics print shop where they print out high quality order forms, images, promotional items, brochures, etc, the whole gamut. I stand there while they adjust the intensity. I try to get it right at home (lighter than I would like to see on a computer, not black, but charcoal gray) and it prints black. They do the final adjustments there. The larger color prints only cost me about$2 each, very affordable.

07-29-2014, 03:44 PM
What you will probably ned to do is run up several images of hte same board, different intensities (noting what adjustments you made to each)and put them on a cd and take them to a shop. Have them print out one of each to see which one is best.

07-29-2014, 07:53 PM
Charles Ewing has a chapter in his book. "The new scratchboard" (I think is the name) on making prints straight from a scratchboard. The problem is , as I remember, the board is lost.... Ink fills the scratches.

07-30-2014, 11:59 AM
Thanks so much for the helpful replies, Sue and Rodman! I'll play around with it some. Thanks again!

Diana Lee
07-30-2014, 05:12 PM
I have found a local printer that scans my work and makes giclee prints that are absolutely spot on. See if you have someone close to you.


07-30-2014, 05:37 PM
I use BayPhoto.com to make prints on metal for my scratchboard work for those with a black background. If it's one I did on Claybord, with more color and/or less solid black, I print my own on a fine art paper.

As Sue said, you need to start with a good quality scan or photo and then do some clean up/adjustments. Once I get everything cleaned and adjusted, then I lighten the whole thing a bit.

As Diana said, you may want to find a printer in your area who can do this for you. It will cost more than doing it yourself, but if you don't have the equipment or time, it's worth the investment so you have good quality prints. And ones that will look the same each time they're printed!

What Rodman is talking about is actually using a board as a printing plate - which is the true meaning of a "print". Everyone tends to use "print" as a term for "reproduction", which does a disservice to the artists who are creating true prints, but it's become a very common thing to say.

07-31-2014, 09:16 PM
Thanks Diana. I've looked around this area for print shops to make prints of my pen and ink drawings, but none have done anything very satisfactory. I'll keep that in mind for scratchboards though. Maybe giclee is what I need to look/ask for. Thanks for the input!

Thanks so much for all the helpful information, Ann. Some food for thought there. I am intrigued by the bayphoto option. I'll definitely be looking into that. Thanks again!

08-01-2014, 07:14 AM
I get high quality, giclee prints for some of my work, I also have metal prints. I have not opted to create my own inkjet prints yet, even though I could. I guess that would work well for cards and things, I just have shied away from it for framed prints.
I use Photoshop to clean up my blacks in my scans - or send it off if it's oversized. Even then, I usually have to clean up the blacks. I have gotten prints on canvas as well.

08-01-2014, 03:01 PM
I always have to clean up the blacks. Just cannot get them right on a scanner. My inkjets usually have lines in the prints so I do not use my own printers (several).

Ginger, what do you mean about the metal prints? Where do you get them? Expensive?

08-01-2014, 08:10 PM
Prints on metal (aluminum), Sue. I use BayPhoto.com for mine, not sure who Ginger is using. Bonus is that BayPhoto's metal prints are 15% off through the 14th.

I have a very good Epson printer and I still don't want to print things with a black background. It's tough to get a good solid black and more importantly, I don't want to blow through my black ink as expensive as it is! I've had good results on a few small prints (with black backgrounds) that I ran on an Epson luster photo paper - it's glossy, but with a subtle texture. I'm using an R1800 printer.

08-02-2014, 07:10 AM
Sue, I use Magna Chrome (http://www.magnachrome.com)

08-02-2014, 09:31 PM
There's a lot of food for thought here, and I appreciate all of your answers so much! I should find a printer to do giclee prints. I am interested in the metal prints too. They sound promising! I've had the same trouble printing solid black as has been mentioned here - it's inconsistent, grainy, or striped.

Sue, I am not sure what you mean by "cleaning up the blacks"? Can you explain how this is done? I see those metal prints aren't super-cheap, so I'd like to have them done right the first time, and if I need to clean up the blacks first, I'd like to know how to do it right. Thanks in advance! Thank you all! What a great forum! :)

08-02-2014, 09:40 PM
I'm not Sue... but I use Photoshop to make the blacks even and "clean" them up.

08-03-2014, 12:26 AM
You will see when you scan, there will not be even black all around. It will be combination of grays and blacks (sometimes a gross black/green). I take several painting tools in GIMP and redo the entire background in black. Plus I also get cat hairs and dust inthe scans so need to cover those up too.

Thanks, Ginger and Ann!! Do you guys have them scan the boards or do you just send in what you have scanned?

08-03-2014, 09:39 AM
I scan all that fit on my scanner and some that don't. If I can get it in up to six sections, I'll do it myself. If it's bigger than that, I cough up the cash for an over-sized scan. I also use Spydr4 Pro to calibrate my monitor in order to make sure my colors are accurate (you can find it on Amazon, B&H and other places). To stitch together my multiple scans, I use Microsoft "Ice"

08-04-2014, 11:39 AM
Thanks so much, Ginger and Sue. I definitely know how it is with cat hair on the scanning bed! :lol:

It is amazing that you can do multiple scans to and piece the board together so seamlessly! I must have a lot to learn about Photoshop! :)

08-05-2014, 03:45 AM
I scan my own too, Sue. If I needed someone else to scan or photograph for me, I'd find somewhere close that I could work with on-site. I wouldn't want to ship the works out to have them scanned.

I know what you mean about that green-black color too. For any scratchboards that don't have green (which, in my case, is at least 80% of them), I completely de-saturate the green in the Hue/Saturation option of Photoshop. I'll often de-saturate the cyan a bit too. Other than that, it depends on the colors in the piece, so there's no real formula. Each piece is different.

Diana Lee
08-05-2014, 10:00 AM
I agree with Ann about having someone local to work with for scanning my work.

I do have a formula concerning the "color" in my black boards. I scan, usually in sections and then piece it together in layers using Paintshop pro (the only program I have) and then merge them. I greyscale the merged image and then increase color depth to 16 million. I go to red/green/blue and add what is necessary to make it the right color. Every scanner/printer is different so I don't think my formula would work for everyone. but for example I use the formula red-1, Green-0, Blue-minus 2.
Then I go to brightness/contrast and work with it. Instead of having my black at 0, I have it at 10 to 15. When I make prints here, like for greeting cards and set them next to the original they look very, very close.

I do all this when I make images for posting WIPs as well.


08-08-2014, 02:58 PM
Thanks again for the wonderful thoughts and advice and techniques, everyone. I have a number of techniques to try out now, thanks to your help, and hope to find a way to make it work out. Thanks again! :)