View Full Version : staggering

03-18-2011, 11:57 AM
I've been on many of the forums in wetcanvas from time to time, as I love trying new things. May I just say you people are absolutely staggering in your detail and performance?
I've considered myself a good artist, usually in glass, or woodburning, and I'm just now starting into scratchboard as I love for the powerful contrast it allows for.
Now for the question. I've been reviewing a great many of the posts of mindblowing images, and seen many posts of people saying I did this today, and I did that, which I love seeing. What I'm wondering is, can anyone tell me the thought process that goes into the planning of these works? The precision required to pull of the lighting in this medium has to require a great deal of planning, and I'm wondering if anyone had something to say on the subject? I'm sorry if it's a question that's been asked before, all the posts are a lot to take in at once and I may have missed it in my searching.

03-18-2011, 12:15 PM
Personally i draw out what im going to do on top of the scratchboard first with a soft pencil as you can see the silvery graphite lines on the surface and they rub off fairly easily, im not sure if anyone else does this. Then i usually start with the brightest bits, but im still learning myself as well and i tend to overscratch then go over it with an airbrush with ink. Ive still got no idea how some of the people here make such amazing work so ill be interested to see what people say too :)


03-18-2011, 12:30 PM
Hi Matt and welcome to our scratchboard family! :D

I would recommend that you search this forum for "WIP" and start reading through those threads. Quite often the artists will speak their mind about their process and thoughts they are having while working on their art piece.

We also have some Sticky threads at the top of the forum that I highly recommend you read through as well. There is a wealth of information here that once you settle in a bit you won't find too difficult to sort through!

Can't wait to see your first scratchboard project post!

Harry Seymour
03-18-2011, 12:51 PM
Welcome Matt. You might take a look at a thread I started several months ago. It does not speak so much about the process but certainly about the inspiration. Here it is:

03-18-2011, 01:02 PM
Matt... welcome.. yea, check those sticky threads... for hot tips and special effects.

As for the thought process.... having met and watched a good number of the artist here.. soooo many of them work so differently from one another... im saying you will adapt to the surface with your style and vision. Grab some Ampersand boards and get to digging on them...we are here to help.

03-18-2011, 02:34 PM
Thanks for the reply. Frankly the replies I expected were what I and most artists seems to say "I just do it." but I'll will just have to dive in and "do it" and figure it out. I could not make the search for WIP work, and I'm assuming I'm using the search wrong as it came back no result.
thanks again.

03-18-2011, 03:37 PM
Welcome Matt, I always get excited to see that we have a new "Little Monster" here on the dark side! :) "little monster being a reference to what Lady Gaga call's her fans...of which I am one." Point being her fans are extremely loyal and of all ages....and maybe a bit odd :) Just like us!....the people of the Dark Side. We are addicts of the dust and revel in our shared addiction.
Diving in and just doing it is kinda sorta what you do in any new medium and thankfully with the help of all your friends if you do run into a roadblock you just need ask and you will get all the help needed. However it is still a good idea to start by reading the sticky threads just so you have a good idea how to start and what to expect.
Again Welcome and have Fun! Can't wait to see what you will come up with!

03-18-2011, 05:40 PM
Welcome...we're all looking forward to seeing what you come up with...don't be shy because we are the friendliest bunch on the internet!

Just go back in the pages looking for WIPs and you'll find lots...it might take longer, though. I can never get the search feature to work for me either.

03-18-2011, 05:46 PM
Matt, I'm with you - at the reading and gathering tools stage but haven't made the first scratch yet - getting close. When they recommend the sticky threads, they mean the third through fifth thread on the home page. Good luck. I hope to be posting with you one of these days, soon.

Besides the terrific information found here, I bought a book titled Creating Textures in Pen & Ink with Watercolor by Claudia Nice. She shows all the different strokes used in pen & ink and I think that knowledge will help me getting started.

When I look at the work posted here, I wonder if there are any beginners - all the work is so good.

03-18-2011, 06:13 PM
Welcome aboard Sammy.

03-18-2011, 08:19 PM
Hi Sammy and Matt :)

Matt, to me the one overriding important factor is I simply won't do anything unless the subject and reference I'm using touches me. If it doesn't, my heart won't be in it (hence I turn some commissions down) and if my heart isn't in it, how can I be convincing to a viewer?

Next thing is a sense of drama since sratchboard is perfect for that. It then comes down to the balance of how much light and dark you manage to 'see' in your image before you even start.

Then of course there is composition, but that's true for any media

Finally, I like to try and find the soul of my subject (if that's not too artsy fartsy) so I like to concentrate on eyes and facial features and scratchboard lends itself perfectly to that. I think that's why we see so many scratchboard artists doing closeups of animals and people, even though it's a great medium for landscapes too.

Would love to see your work!! :thumbsup:

Snuzin Susan
03-18-2011, 09:35 PM

Cathy Sheeter (Crias) did an article a long time ago about getting started in scratchboard, and how to pick the right photo for scratch. Which is the best place to start. Often times I find my references lack the necessary shadows and highlights for a dramatic piece so I usually work them up in photoshop to add them in and intensify the piece. Also have a high res ref with LOTs of details helps so much. On the other hand some freehand everything (*cough* Rodman *cough*) and have stunning results. What is nice is you can often carry over your normal style into scratchboard; this cannot be said for me of course because my normal painting style is very very very loose...and then there are my boards :) . When transferring I tend to keep my transfer image very basic. I map in the main shapes and shadows. Others are very detailed.

Feel free to continue asking questions though. We love to answer them! Can't wait to see what you produce.

Also! Hello fellow western NYer! I'm from Olean/Allegany currently in Fredonia!


03-18-2011, 09:56 PM
Hi and Welcome! Diana Lee did an article a loooong time ago about changing the lighting of a photo for scratchboard. High contrast works well for a start. Otherwise you end up with tons of midtones and very little else. Enjoy!

03-19-2011, 12:03 AM
I could not make the search for WIP work

Sorry about that! I guess I gave you bad information because when I tried a search using "WIP" nothing came up because it is too short of a search term. However, when I search the Scratchboard forum again with the word "progress" it came up with a lot of threads along the lines of what I think you are looking for (besides all of the other great tips folks posted about already). :D

03-19-2011, 12:14 AM
Hi Sammy and it's wonderful to hear you are going to be doing some scratchboarding (is that a word?) soon!

I loved what you said:
Besides the terrific information found here, I bought a book titled Creating Textures in Pen & Ink with Watercolor by Claudia Nice.

So many folks that I encounter don't realize (for whatever reason) that we employ basic drawing techniques in our medium. Shading, cross-hatching, stippling... etc., we do it all but sometimes have to use different tools to achieve the same effect.

03-19-2011, 12:20 AM
Matt and Sammy welcome, really look forward to seeing some of your work.
This forum will definitely humble a person. It sure does me. I've enjoyed trying a lot of different mediums over the years and still enjoy some of them. Working in scratchboard however is a very addictive or magnetic medium. It's hard to put down and walk away from once you've tried it and if you want to learn how others approach it, just tag along. This forum contains the best scratchboard artists in the world. A bold statement I know, but true. I'm not talking about their artistic talents, (but that statement holds true for that as well), I'm talking about how genuinely friendly everyone is, how generous they are in sharing their knowledge and experience, how encouraging and supportive they are when someone is attempting to stretch their comfort zone and how much everyone really wants to see each artist get better. Last but by far not least is, I believe Ampersand Scratchbords and Claybords are so unique that they hold limitless possibilities for creating one's art. I hope that you will join us and share your artwork with us. It's what we thrive on.

03-19-2011, 10:17 AM
Thanks for all your feedback! I am well aware of Claudia Nice and her work, which is amazing... I think she has 3 books on the subject and I was learning those techniques when I was trying pen and ink. I did figure many of the techniques would be the same... I just figured the preplanning would be different in the way you see the work, based on the fact that you are starting with a black rather than white surface, leaving shadow behind instead of adding shadow. I guess you also add shadow with returning ink to the page, as well, but I'm guessing you'd still think in terms of knowing where you want to remove more or less ink to create your effects.

You've all got me excited on the subject, and I'm in the planning stage for my first piece. What I am wondering though with all the references to photoshop work ( my favorite tool) is, are you finding images and tracing the basic outlines, or are you doing your own interpretation of the image and working from there?

Diana Lee
03-19-2011, 11:10 AM
Man o man, are you gonna be having some fun! Here is a link to the post I made on preparing photos. http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=513716


03-19-2011, 11:26 AM
oopse, I goofed and replied to the other catagory. Thanks for the photoshop tutorial, though I admit I already do that, as photoshop is my favorite tool next to my hands. What I was wondering was once you have the image to work with, do you trace the image or do you do your own interpretation of that image? I no longer know what's right or wrong in the art world to represent as your own work. hmmm this should probably be a new thread...

03-19-2011, 11:37 AM
Matt, you ask a difficult question in a way. I think everyone approaches scratching in their own way. I use my own photo refs and since I am a lover of pencil I generally draw out my main image, trace it, and transfer it to my board. I use a lot of refs sometimes to create a specific background and sometimes I make it up as I go. I do occasionally create everything from scratch, so to speak. :D Black scratchbord is quite the opposite of graphite or pen and ink. That's why I like a ref to look at for the lights and shadows. Going from black board to white board is once again a different mindset but is more like pen and ink or pencil. I'm really not much of a planner as you can probably tell from my work but I am far from a professional. I hope that this helps a little but I'm sure that you have a process you use that you can adjust to fit this medium. If you are a detail kind of person you will enjoy the darkside.

Diana Lee
03-19-2011, 11:48 AM
Your wanting to know all the little details about what you are supposed to do before you will let yourself start tells me you are going to love this medium!!!

I think you should do whatever makes you feel comfortable to start with. And if you don't like it, change. Go play and have fun!


03-19-2011, 12:03 PM
I think for the most part Matt we do the drawing like you would for any med. Then once you have you concept done on paper you transfer it onto the board by tracing it using transfer paper. One that I use is waxless, greaseless and smudge proof. Its is eraseable and doesn't bleed through when you paint over it. I just looked on it to give you a brand but it hasn't got one :lol: Must be No Name brand! I have just skipped the whole drawing thing too and just traced the outline, its saves time but only works for the smaller pieces unless you have a huge printer! :) I hardly think anyone would consider it cheating as its so rudimentary that it would be laughable for anyone to consider it so. ( in my opinion anyway). Lots of times I use two or three diff images and create a piece too, but I always trace the image (drawing or otherwise) onto the board...you don't want to do a lot of adjustments with the drawing on the board itself, have all your compositional and dimensional work already worked out beforehand, and your board will be a dream to work.

03-19-2011, 12:19 PM
I think you should get your image any way you need to. I don't believe that there are any rules written any where stating how art has to be created. I believe that the great masters would have used whatever technology was available to them to create their work. I believe a great deal of their works were done by their apprentices under their supervision. Like Diana said, go play and have fun.

03-19-2011, 12:59 PM
thanks, that helps:)