“Youth in Armor” Scratchboard Illustration


The completed, colorized “Youth in Armor” scratchboard illustration.

I’ve always been fascinated by engraving & woodcutting illustration styles; this project was a personal foray into the Claybord or “scratchboard” medium, which achieves a similar effect.

Claybord is a medium which allows you to draw or paint directly on the surface with ink, the scratch the top surface of the material away to remove ink in the desired areas. “Scratchboard” refers to Claybord sold with a layer of India ink already applied to the product, so that the user can create an image exclusively by scratching the board with tools, with no drawing or painting required.

After practicing with small pieces of Claybord material, I created a pencil sketch to rough out my composition and determine the values of different areas.

The initial value study for the illustration, sketched out in pencil.

Once I was satisfied with the sketch, I transferred it to the Claybord using transfer paper. This was perhaps the most onerous part of the whole process, as it required a lot of pressure and needed to be re-done several times.

Once the drawing was transferred to the medium, I began brushing India ink over areas of the illustration I knew would be dark. When those were dry, I continued inking the more detailed areas with technical pens, then began using the scratchboard tool (pictured below) to remove material.

The in-process scratchboard illustration, shown with scratchboard tools.

Once the illustration was complete, it was scanned, then refined and colorized using Adobe Photoshop.