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a Description of its History, Materials and Technique

Although scratchboard is a relatively new process, humans have been scratching images since the 'caveman' era. The materials used for this time period were rock and bone. Then as time went on it became metal etching, scratchboard and the wood engraving of today.

Modern scratchboard was developed in the late 19th century. Versions of this technique were cardboard coated with chalk, then applications of India Ink were applied in countries such as England, Austria and Italy. It became popular for its "fine" line look, and could be photographically reduced for reproduction without working in reverse with ease. It was used for advertising and editorial illustrations mainly from the 1020's to the 1950's. Scratchboard has made somewhat of a comeback these last two decades as an appealing medium.

I am currently using a scratchboard that is made in Texas, called "claybord". It is a masonite board with a chalk deposited on it and covered with India Ink. It's a lot sturdier than the paper scratchboard you find in most art supply stores. The better the quality, the finer the line, which results in minimal flaking and ragged edges. The scratching tools I use consist of a #11 exacto blade, a scratch knife, a fiber brush and oil-free steel wool.


Once I have my preliminary drawing sketched on tracing paper, I tape it to the scratchboard. I then retrace the basic outline of the drawing with a ball point pen. This leaves indented lines on the scratchboard for me to follow.
I then remove the tracing paper to reveal the indentations that can be seen with good angled lighting. I always keep the sketch nearby as my reference.  I then proceed to use the scratching tools to remove the black ink from the board, thus exposing the white layer underneath. To establish elements of shading, I use different pressures and directional scratching to achieve the end result. I periodically step back from the piece I am working on to view the overall balance.
After the piece of artwork is done, I decide whether or not to add color. If I do decide to add color, I use either a watercolor or acrylic ink wash over the areas I wish to fill in.
For the final step, I preserve the piece of artwork by spraying a clear acrylic coating on it. This also helps to minimize the appearance of any paint that has stayed onto the black areas

Imagery by Stan, Inc.
2065 Attache Ct ....Clearwater, Fl ....33764 ....727-507-0822
Artwork copyright © 2001 Stanley Morrison - All Rights Reserved