Tips for using Scratchbord

Rick Plasters, Dean Arnold, 7x5, Ampersand Scratchbord


Getting Started

Step 1: 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.


Step 2: Next, scratch out all the lines from your drawing on the Scratchbord. Then, scratch in directional lines to show volume. Following the directional lines and repeating them to fill in, start sculpting out the shapes.


Step 3: 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

Step 4: To add color, use Ampersand 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 a 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.

Lisa Goesling, Oregano, 24x20, ink on Ampersand Scratchbord



Seal and Frame Without Glass

Lisa Harbidge, Major, 8x8, Ampersand Scratchbord


Seal Scratchbord with an acrylic spray fixative. 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.


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