Lesson Plan: Scratchboard


Submitted by: Ken Schwab, formerly of Leigh High School, San Jose CA
Unit: Drawing - Scratchboard
Grade Level: High school 9 through 12
Ken's Web Site: http://www.artteacherplans.com/
Fantasy/Cartoon Scape lesson by Wendy Free



  1. Look for a subject that has a predominance of black and good smooth gradations of light. Sketch out the outlines on newsprint that is the same size as your board.

  2. Transfer the image to the board using carbon paper (or Saral Transfer paper) and you will be able to barely see the lines.

  3. Practice the scratchboard techniques of cross-hatch drawing. Start with a set of lines short and all the same length and spacing apart. Do not press hard, very light touch. Next, cross them with slightly longer lines and the first set looks whiter. Repeat with a third set going in another direction even longer and now the gradation is started. Repeatedly increase the number of layers of lines in many directions to achieve a smooth change of light to dark.

  4. You are taking black off of a white board so start at the lightest areas and work to the black. This means that the drawing will not look like much for the first part of the process but soon it will start to look good.

  5. If you need to put black back on, you can use drawing ink pens, but you can’t scratch it out again. Spray with Crystal Clear Acrylic Spray Paint. at the end to protect it and make it shine.

Click on the images for full size


kenscratchboard1.jpg (91977 bytes)      kenscratchboard12.jpg (46395 bytes)     kenscratchboard13.jpg (38498 bytes)


Materials needed:

- Canson or English Scratchboard.

- Drawing Pencils.

- Magic Rub Erasers.

- Newsprint.

- Scratch-Art Scratch Knives Tool Set.

- Saral Transfer Paper.



Scratchboard Internet Lesson - by Wendy Free



Mastering the Art of Scratchboard. - Master Scratchboard artist Norman Gaddini explains, from start to finish and in great detail, the Scratchboard techniques he has developed in more than 30 years of painting

A Fine Line: Scratchboard Illustrations. - This collection showcases the career of McKowen, a scratchboard artist who designs theater posters and illustrates for books and magazines.



Submitted by: Wendy Free, Eastside High School, Gainesville, Florida
Unit: Drawing - Scratchboard
Lesson: Illustration - Career lesson (cartooning) Fantasy 'Scapes
Grade: High School (adaptable to middle school)
(See more of Wendy's images)

wendy-scratch.jpg (38737 bytes)

Resources / Introduction:

http://www.pixar.com; Picasso’s bulls (stages of abstraction); online reef photo galleries like this; jungle photo galleries like (at school! will send in after break!); Rousseau jungle scapes, Wyland sea scapes (image resource sheet available)



Assorted images of animals and marine life, Newsprint., Drawing Pencils., Magic Rub Erasers., Scratchboards, Scratch-Art Scratch Knives Tool Set, ball point pen, Prang Watercolor Pan Sets., Brushes.



  1. View marine and jungle ‘scapes and identify perspective techniques (overlapping, size/placement, atmospheric perspective…).

  2. Students choose subject of composition and do sketches in computer lab of flora and fauna contained within their environment.

  3. View Pablo Picasso's bulls and Pixar website – discuss similarities between Picasso’s processes of abstraction and creation of cartoon characters from Finding Nemo. from real life clownfish, surgeonfish, etc.

  4. Use sketches to create "cartoonized" composition of creatures and their surroundings.

  5. Practice scratchboard techniques for creating value and texture on scrap board (value scale, shaded sphere, and one animal from drawn composition).

  6. Transfer drawn composition to scratchboard by tracing with ballpoint pen.

  7. Scratch images using directional line and pattern. Create varied values with scratch techniques. Contrast is important.

  8. Complete scratchboard piece by tinting with watercolors – mixed colors with tints, shades, and tones.



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