File - NCHS Art Classes with Mr Plinke

as a Medium
Negative as Positive,
Drawing the Natural
…and creating texture.
Scratchboard Began in
Scratchboard or scraperboard (as it is known in
Europe) is a direct form of engraving which
originated in Europe in the 19th century prior to
the introduction of modern photographic
techniques. It was used as a less expensive
alternative to other engraving grounds such as
metal, woodcuts and linocuts.
Scratchboard was used widely
for scientific illustration, such
as botanical, zoological and
anatomical drawings; in
mapmaking and product
advertising illustration in
magazines, newspapers, and
Scratchboard is still the preferred medium of
many professional illustrators today and is
widely utilized by publishing and advertising
industries' professional illustrators and/
The very first
scraperboards consisted of
cardboard coated with
chalk. (and then covered
with india ink)
Scraperboards used during
the 1930's were white with
no ink coating. Cardboard
and paper based
Scratchart products are
still in use today as
cheaper alternatives for
art students.
Fine artists re-discovered scratchboard during
the late 1970's/1980's when it became popular
as a direct engraving medium, where the
original engraving is used as the finished
artwork. Scratchboard has been making it's
mark in many fine art circles, receiving awards in
some of the most prestigious art exhibitions
both nationally and internationally.
Tools and How-to
Scratchboard uses a specific kind of surface
upon which to work: generally scratchboards
are made up of three layers:
• A substrate, such as paper, cardboard or
• A thin layer of chalk
or white clay.
• A fine layer of ink.
Some sort of scraping tool is used to remove the
layer of ink, exposing the white layer of chalk or
clay beneath.
The tools can be as simple as a stick,
a needle, a blade, or a bundle of sharp wires.
Often, steel wool or even sandpaper can be used to create specific visual
Different tools create different types of textured
In this scratchboard by Francis
Sweet, the artist used small
pointed wooden sticks,
bundles of sharp-tipped wire,
steel wool and a needle-like
scraper to remove the ink
surface, exposing the white
Like most forms of artwork,
developing a plan through a
series of thumbnail drawings
makes success more certain.
To begin a
scratchboard, the artist
first choses an image,
drawing it EXTREMELY
lightly on the prepared
surface in pencil.
Following this, the
lightest areas of the
image are removed
first, followed by
successively darker
Because only white lines are made using
scratchboard, care must be taken to only
remove those areas that are to be highlighted.
This drawing uses too many outlines, and not enough
thought towards where highlights should be placed.
Artist Amy Staufer
makes good use of
highlights in this
scratchboard drawing of
a tiger.
Heather Ward
also uses
highlight and
effectively in
of an elk.
Francis Sweet also considers the effects of light and dark
contrast in the following scratchboards.
John Agnew is another artist
who specializes in scratchboard
with typicl wildlife subjects.

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