Friday, December 3, 2010

Dog Portrait - Scratchboard Tutorial pt 2

Welcome back to the BigDumbAnimal scratchboard tutorial!  While I don't profess to be an expert per se, nor do I mean to suggest there aren't more exhaustive scratchboard tutorials out there, I am an enthusiast with a desire to teach!  And so long as I'm posting my own personal work on this blog, I figure I might as well leave some interesting or useful information about my process for those who choose to read beyond the pretty pictures.  Now, let us get back to the good stuff!


Now that you have all of your materials, we're ready to start transferring the image to your board!  (if you don't have your scraper tool handy just yet, no worries.  You won't need that until later) 

Make sure your image and transfer paper are both cut down to the size of your actual board.  Be careful handling the transfer paper, as it has a tendency to leave a fine residue everywhere!  But don't worry--like I said before, it will wash out of most everything.  And if you want, you can take a tissue and wipe off any excess graphite from the paper.  A little bit goes a long way.

Now you're going to make a sandwich with your board, transfer paper, and source image.
First off lay your source image, face up, directly on top of the scratchboard.  These will be your two pieces of bread.  Now using a strip of masking tape folded over the top of the board, hold the image in position.  Now, place your transfer paper face down between the board and your image, using a strip of masking tape along to bottom to hold it all in position.  The tape should now be touching both the face of your image and the backside of your scratchboard, not necessarily the transfer paper and ideally not the black surface of your scratchboard.  The reason I suggest getting your image in place before the transfer paper is to avoid shifting which may leave some of the graphite residue in areas you didn't mean for it to.

Before you start transferring your image, keep in mind that when working on scratchboard you want to draw the highlights, not the shadows or outlines.  For that reason, I'm hesitant to use the phrase 'trace your image'.  If you need to leave a dark line to define a shape, you'll want to focus on the areas surrounding that outline.  The best tactic here is to try seeing your image as a series of shapes of value, tracing around the highlights rather than defining outlines.  In my case, I followed the shapes of bright white and patterns within the dogs' fur.  My favorite trick, both while transferring and shading, is to turn my drawings upside down.  This helps to trick the mind into looking at the actual values instead of relying on our preconceptions of what we're drawing.  You'll find you're much more likely to focus on highlights and shadows than outlines.  Now get out any old pen or pencil and get started on that transfer!  A gentle touch will work... again, a little bit of graphite goes a long way!

Once you feel you've identified the major shapes of value, go ahead and peel the tape back from the bottom.  Gently lifting up the transfer paper and source image, you'll see your marks transfered to the board.  Check to make sure you didn't miss anything important.  If you did, go ahead and lay them back down and rework those missed areas.  Otherwise if you're comfortable moving forward, go ahead and toss your transfer paper.  I tend to keep my source image attached so that I can easily flip it up and down for comparison, but you can also keep it to the side of your board for reference.  In fact, I tend to print a couple extra copies of my source image to have around just in case.

Scratching that Board (vrecka, vrecka!).... Continue to Part 3

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