What is scratchboard?

Scratchboard, also known as scraperboard, is a black-and-white drawing medium. The board itself is a cardboard or panel with a thin coating of fine, white clay covered by a layer of india ink. The drawing surface starts completely black. One draws by scratching white lines through the ink with a sharp tool, such as a scratchboard nib held in a pen holder. The more lines one draws, the brighter the picture becomes. A scratchboard drawing, often very highly detailed, can resemble a wood engraving but is not a print medium.

I love working in black and white but it is not always suited for every assignment. To add color to my scratchboard illustrations, I photocopy the finished black-and-white scratchboard onto acid-free paper, photo-mount the paper onto an acid-free bristol board, and add color with watercolor. This painting is the original art I deliver to a publisher.

The scratchboard I recommend is "Scratchbord" by Ampersand. It is available at many locations on-line.

Scratchboard Tools