View Full Version : Scratchboard?

01-05-2006, 09:11 PM
I'm interested in trying scratchboard for the first time. Does anyone have any advice on how to get started, materials, how you add color?


Mary Woodul
01-05-2006, 09:31 PM
Hi Rachel,welcome to Mixed Media. I wish I could answer your question but I have never done scratchboard before but we do have several members that post there work here in the forum and hopefully they will help you.:)

01-05-2006, 09:33 PM
There are several artists on this board that do wonderful scratchboard. I am sure they will have plenty of advice.

You can also put scratchboard technique in the google search engine and there comes more information that an armload. Have fun. I haven't done scratchboard in maybe 40 years but have fond memories of it.

No, I will not start a new technique at this time, bad artist.

01-06-2006, 08:46 AM
Hi Rachel,

I do scratchboard and only scratchboard work. I found that Ampersand's claybord black is a great surface to work on. I use a straightpin with the head cut off placed in an exacto knife holder. They make tools for scratchboard, but I find the pin works great. Others here use exacto knife blades to scratch with.
Dick Blick has everything you need to get started, or you can go to hobby lobby or michaels and get boards there as well.

As far as color is concerned, I have colored one piece, but will be doing alot of color work in the future. I will be using ampersands claybord inks with an airbrush to start.

When you do start scratching, scratch very lightly. You can always go back and rescratch areas to lighten them up. If you start with to heavy a hand the scratching will look washed out by the time you are finished.

Hope it helps.


01-06-2006, 03:04 PM
Rachel....Stick with Bob (myorca) and you can't go wrong. Good luck.
Victor :wave:

01-06-2006, 11:19 PM
As Bob says, start light. Supplies: Clayboard Black, the straight pin in a holder set up that Bob (and myself) uses, a slender exacto knife, really anything that will make the desired mark. The Clayboard tool set is useful for some kinds of stokes, but I don't use it much except for the fiber brush and a blunt tipped tool. Chalk the back of your pattern, Tape it at the top edge so it can be flipped up and down and trace your design onto the board. Later if you need more info you have it taped in place already. Particularly mark out the shapes of light and dark and important features. Some features can be lightly outlined with your stylus, but be careful that you don't make lines across areas that shouldn't have them because they will be negative shapes in the black. Start scratching in the highlights and main features to start mapping it out on the board, Start lightly and tentatively as you will go back over these areas several times. There are several ways to get your different tones or values. The tighter packed and deeper cut your lines the whiter it will appear. The less packed and more shallow your cuts are the darker they will appear. I sometimes shade with varying degrees of diluted India Ink after the piece is completed. After you have completed your first pass over the rendering go back and rework areas of brightness and whiteness to bring them out more. If you are working with hair or fur or feathers over cut many times working your lines at slight angles to the first ones laid down.
There are several WIPs on Scratch Art ( I'm trying to get it changed to ClayBoard Etching) Mine on a buffalo is on this forum. Lorna12 has one and others do too. Some people think in terms of working with negative spaces. I prefere thinking of my stylus as a white pencil and I think in terms of light and dark. The best India Ink IMO is Higgins Black Magic. It comes closest to the background black and be used diluted for small corrections and for shading. As for color the Clayboard inks are designed to work with the boards and not attach to the black. Other inks and paints can be used too though. You'll learn just by doing and playing around. The inks dry quickly so there is no mixing of batches. I started by using colored pencils and even pastel. I still like the soft effect of that. Elsewhere on this forum I will post some recent work.
The most important thing is relax and enjoy. It's very meditative and right brain. Also remember to give your hand a rest and a stretch from time to time.One other thought, consider the direction of your lines, shape them to the form of your subject, particularly with animal fur. Also just as with pen and ink a number of cross hatching patterns can be used as can a pointilistic pattern (though that one will drive you crazy). Start with a simple design that has strong contrast.

01-06-2006, 11:40 PM
What they say! My tool of choice is the #11 exacto knife and I prefer the Ampersand Boards too. For coloring I either use watercolors or the ampersand inks, depending on my goal. Parker in a Basket was done with the watercolor (and I don't recommend basket scratching for anyone after that picture) but MR Fish (somewhere in an old thread) was done with the inks as was the Leafy Sea Dragon. I think if you do a search you'll find them, though, on the Leafy Sea Dragon make sure it's the scratchboard one. LOL.
Good luck and welcome!

01-06-2006, 11:47 PM
There's the link for the inked pieces.

01-07-2006, 02:17 PM
Thank you so much for all this advice. I love to draw animals and scratchboard looks like such a great medium for it!


01-07-2006, 02:22 PM
:clap: I randomly clicked on page 51 and found a link to this amazing article!


So I thought I'd post it in case there are others interested in starting scratchboard who haven't seen it.


01-07-2006, 04:26 PM
Came across another scratchboard article.


What do you think of using the knives that fit into pens as opposed to a needle or an exacto knife?


01-07-2006, 10:57 PM
I have a friend who loves her pen knife. What ever will make the marks you want is OK to use. I like the pin and the knife blades for fur textures but other tools are useful for grasses and for skies. Victor has made some scrapers specially to use on his architectural pieces. Just dive in and go for it.

Diana Lee
01-26-2006, 04:46 PM
For Black and white work I prefer the clean lines you can get from Essdee Scraperboard, professional quality. I have attached an example of black and white work done on Essdee, it is my Self Portrait of a MUCH younger me. I used an Xacto knife and the scratching tool with the nibs made by Hunt/Speedball. For scratching on ink, acrylic or oil painted surfaces I use either Ampersand's white or black Claybord. For an example of what that looks like I have a detail of a tiger cub I did with scratchboard ink. For color pencil or oil pencil I prefer Ampersand's white Claybord. Here is a link to a submission I gave of a piece I did with color pencil. http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=234226&highlight=native+american (I hope this link works)
I used an Xacto knife, scratchboard nibs (broad nib and pointed nib, and steelwool)
For scratching you can use just about anything that will scratch from pins like myorca uses (and uses exceptionally well I might add) to steelwool and sand paper.
Lorna12 has some great hints on her tutorial. She has a gift for making her work so smooth.
Think in terms of "Less is More". It is so easy to overwork a piece so scratch as little as possible. Think of it as salting a stew, it is a lot easier to add more salt than it is to remove too much salt. It is a lot easier to add more scratches than it is to remove too many scratches.