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Some General Tips on Scratchbord

Scratchbord, the Ultimate Scratchboard

Little  Green Apple< on scratchbord by Diana Lee

Little Green Apple by Diana Lee, 8”x8”, scratchboard techniques on Scratchbord, color added with Scratchbord Claybord Inks www.dianalee.com

What is Scratchbord?

Ampersand Scratchbord has a smooth, absorbent kaolin clay ground evenly coated with black India ink. Scratch the black ink away with ease and control to crisp white fluid lines. Backed with Ampersand’s true artist hardboard, Scratchbord will not tear, crack or bend like other paper scratchboards and can be sealed with spray fixative to eliminate fingerprints for perfect glass-free presentation. For best results, use Ampersand’s complete line of tools for scratchboard. And, for absolutely the most vibrant color, use Scratchbord-Claybord Inks to add color in the scratched-in white lines.

Tips for Using Scratchbord

Getting Started

Start by drawing your subject matter directly on the Scratchbord surface with pastels, plain white chalk or graphite pencil. You can also transfer a completed drawing by chalking the back and tracing over the main lines with a pen or pencil or by using graphite transfer paper. To begin, scratch out all the lines from your drawing on the Scratchbord. Next, scratch in directional lines to show volume. Following the directional lines and repeating them to fill in, start sculpting out the shapes. Go over areas several times that need to be the most highlighted. When the drawing is completed, clean off any scratched clay-ink debris and chalk dust with a very soft cloth.

Adding Vibrant Color

To add color, use Scratchbord-Claybord Inks that are both waterproof and transparent. For best results, build up the color in diluted washes following the directional lines in the drawing. Other brands of ink can leave heavy residue on the black surface and can be difficult to scratch if not quickly wiped off. For final touch up, apply Ampersand Black Repair ink around the edges of the subject matter to cover any left over residue and over-painting. Once all the color is in, go back and scratch out the highlights. This will give the forms in your drawing volume and dimension. Add more color where needed and repeat this process until you are totally satisfied with the results.

If you make a mistake, repair it

Although the repaired surface won’t be completely the same as the surface you began with, there are a couple of ways to repair areas that need to be changed. For best results, use Ampersand Black Repair ink or Sumi India ink diluted 1/2 with water and gently apply with a cotton swab or small brush over the area to be repaired. Repeat thin applications until the area is completely covered. An airbrush can also be used for larger areas.

Seal and frame without glass

Seal Scratchbord with an acrylic spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss). It will dissolve fingerprints and even out smudges while also protecting the surface from dirt and water. First, remove all loose dust and debris from the surface with a soft brush or cloth being careful not to scuff the surface. Spray with 2 -3 coats of fixative (as directed on the can) in low humidity, warmer temperatures and in a well-ventilated area. Then, you can frame your finished Scratchbord art without glass. Note: Claybord Fixative was discontinued in 2004. Please be patient as we test and develop new sealing options.

More help using Scratchbord