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Scratchboard Illustration

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Michelle Robinette

on 17 September 2015

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Transcript of Scratchboard Illustration

It's all about scratching the surface...literally.

Scratchboard is a subtractive art. The artist begins with what looks like black paper, but is actually a board or piece of cardboard that's covered with a coating of fine white clay and then covered with a layer of black ink.
Using a wide variety of sharpened implements that may include an etching needle or a scratchboard nib, the artist scrapes away the black to create white lines. The more lines that are drawn, the brighter the picture becomes.
Scratchboard illustrations are often mistaken for woodcuts.
While the end results are similar, scratchboard work requires much less time.
Scratchboard is best known for its small scale and fine lines.
Aesthetics & History
Scratchboard has a history dating back to 19th century England and France. Later, during the 20th century, it emerged as the desired medium for medical and scientific illustrations. Today, scratchboard seems to be regaining popularity. In addition to children's literature, scratchboard can also be found in newspapers, advertising, graphic novels, and museum quality prints.

Working with scratchboard requires a mixture of drawing, etching, sculpting, and at times, painting skills. The results have a depth and a presence not often seen in other forms of illustration.

At times, Pinkney's work seems ready to leap from the page with movement and music. Take note of Jo Jo's kick as she seems to jump right out of the story. Pickney's scratchboard images rarely remain in their black and white state. He's developed a method of adding color to his work that involves tinting the original board with dyes and then painting on top of that with acrylic paint.

Kromme's work on the other hand seems to have a sense weight, permanence, depth, texture and age. She enjoys black and white, yet has also developed a method for adding color when needed. She photocopies her original scratchboard image onto acid free paper and then adds bursts of color with watercolor paints. For an example of this, see note the light pouring from the house below.
My Favorite "Scratchboarders"
Brian Pinkney
Beth Krommes
So... Show me!
How do they do it?
An amazing display of scratchboard art can be found at:
ISSA. International Society of Scractchboard Artists. <www.scratchboardsociety.com>.
Krommes, Beth. Beth Krommes. 2009. 2013 <www.bethkrommes.com>.
Pinkney, Brian. The Art of Brian Pinkney. 2012. 2013 <www.brianpinkney.net>.
Silvey, Anita. The Essential Guide to children's Books and Their Creators. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
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