Fine art and designs

Lion Scratchboard

This is my tutorial of how I created the Lion scratch board. Click the read more button below to find out about  my technique and thought process as well as see the included progress photos.


 Recently I started working with scratchboard, thanks to my sister.  She had been working with it and was creating some wonderful art.  She left me a board, and after quite some time I was looking for a new project.  I picked it up and instantly fell in love with this medium.

My first piece was based from a photo I took.  As a matter of fact, all three pieces I’ve done so far have been from photos I had taken.   I chose this photo because all the different textures in it make for a great practice piece.  I was very surprised and happy with the results.  This piece has a very illustrated look that I love and don’t usually achieve in other mediums I usually work in.


The second piece I chose to do was of my friend Matt and his dog Harley, a corgi.  I chose this portrait because of the technical challenge it represented.  I wanted to try to get a look similar to what I get with graphite work.  This also would be the first time I would tackle the challenge of hair, or rather fur, in this case, with this medium.

 I so enjoyed doing the fur from ”Matt and Harley” that I thought my third attempt at scratchboard should be another animal.  So I went through old photos I took at the Philadelphia Zoo.  This one of the lion jumped out at me.  The lion’s mane is what drew my eye.

 The only tools I used with all of my scratch art so far were an Exacto knife with a #11 blade and a piece of a Scotch Bright pad.

 The first photo shows the very beginning of the lions face. I’m keeping things real loose right now, mostly just indicating the direction of the fur on his face and the location of the whiskers.

 In the second photo you can see I started into the mane a bit and you can see more of the sketch.  I use Saral paper to transfer the sketch to the scratchboard.  Saral is basically colored carbon paper.  Since these transfer lines can easily brush off, I used a metal pointer that I have for clay sculpting to lightly go over the lines.  I do not scratch the board but it does leave a mark that you can see when the light hits at the right angle.  I’m careful with line placement and to not use unnecessary lines because they seem to be permanent.  This so far has not been a problem, but I could see how it could be.  If I were to make marks in an area and later decide not to scratch into, leaving it black, these lines will show at the right angle.  I don’t know if using the spray fixative will hide these lines, I have not tried yet.

 Here’s a close up of the head so far.

 I’ve worked into the head a bit more and worked further into the main.  I also went heavily in the paws, since light is hitting strongly and to establish a contrast area to define the bottom of the mane.  I also started the folds in the body by the back leg.
 You might be able to see the scratch dust in this photo.  In my first pieces I just brushed or blew this away.  I discovered an important technique in my second piece, Matt and Harley.  I had made an area too bright by removing too much surface, and instead of blowing it away I tried rubbing the black dust back into the neck area below the dogs jaw area and it worked.  It added enough grey to give the jaw the shadow it needed.  I then used this technique a lot in that and this lion piece.

 As you can see, I’ve established the mane and started the rear leg.  If you look at the rear leg, at first glance it may look like the lines are random, but a closer inspection will show that my initial lines try to follow the direction of the fur and the form of the body.  The areas that are more crosshatched indicate the brighter areas where the light is the strongest.  A whole lot of scratching going on, and I’ve only just begun.

 Scratch scratch scratch, and even more scratching.  In this photo I developed across the whole lion.  He’s not done just yet, but I’ll wait to establish the background and then go back into the lion to blend the values together more, and to add the final touches.

 Here I worked on the grass in the foreground.  At this point I wasn’t sure how I wanted to do the background.  After some research I decided to just add tall grass, as you can see where I indicated some long lines behind the lion.

 I worked more in the foreground, this area is mostly done.  I used the scotch bright a lot in the background to give the softness to the tall grass.  I also worked more in the lion.

 After working more with the tall grass and some final touches to the lion, here is the final piece.

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Posted in Scratchboard and Traditional Artwork by G Alan Beck on January 23rd, 2012 at 10:22 am.

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