In a recent comment on the Art Gallery page, Rawlings asked about my use of scratchboard as a medium. I’ve done a lot of work in ink on scratchboard, and it’s one of my favorite media for drawing. Most art supply stores sell scratchboard that is “pre-inked”. The surface is all black and you use various scraping tools to reveal the white material underneath – sort of “drawing in negative”. That can produce some really interesting effects, but for my work I use white scratchboard and apply the ink myself.1.
A close-up of the eye and surrounding areas in the drawing shows how various scratching techniques work. Around the eye I brushed on a solid wash of ink, then scratched in a few white lines to define the eye. At the base of the bill I used a pen to draw cross-hatched lines of black ink, then gave those more subtle shading by cross-hatching white lines across them at various angles with the scraping tools.
Ink can be applied to the board with either a brush or a pen, and I often use both on the same drawing: brush for large areas, pen for details. Once the ink is applied it can be scratched off with your scraping tools, and that’s where a scratchboard drawing really differs from ink on paper! My technique is to apply the ink quickly with loose strokes, not worrying about being a little sloppy, because I know I can clean it up later. With the scraping tools I create white lines to add detail to the drawing. The fine white lines enable me to achieve a much greater range of “gray” tones than would be possible with ink and paper.
- The brand of white scratchboard I use is Essdee Scraperboard and can be purchased at many artist’s supply stores [↩]