Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dog Portrait - Scratchboard Tutorial pt 3


click to enlarge for detail

Before we start scratching into your board, let's take a moment to look at some basic shading techniques.  These are important not just to scratchboard art, but to drawing in general!  I sketched up some examples for you to check out above.  I drew these in black to get the ideas down quickly, but the approach is exactly the same whether you're using pencil, pen, scratch tool, marker, crayon, etc.


  • Hatching is your most basic shading method.  Similar to scribbling, but with a tad bit more control.  It's basically the use of parallel lines to imply value.  The closer together your lines are, the darker your shading will be.


  • Cross-hatching introduces perpendicular lines to your first set of hatched lines, taking the values even darker.  You can also angle your lines beyond the standard 90 degrees for different effect.


  • Stippling is the use of small dots to build up value.  I tend to use stippling for shading skin tone because it's less distracting than lines and can be built up more gradually.  It's a time consuming process, but has a beauty that's hard to match.  Check out my 'Potty Training Portrait' post for a great example of this technique.

Broken Hatching

  • Broken hatching is my favorite, and can look really elegant.  This is where you start with basic hatching technique, but then go back in to break the lines up with perpendicular marks of the opposite color (via pen on scratchboard, or via scraper tool on claybord).  This is useful when you want your hatched shading a bit softened or faded out at the edges.  The background in my 'Potty Training Portrait' makes a lot of use of broken hatching.


  • Don't be afraid to experiment with combinations of these techniques.  Each is good for different things, and bringing them together can have a great effect!  Have fun with them, and practice all the time!  (I draw little boxes and play with shading techniques while on the phone, etc.)

Now let's get back to our scratchboards!

SCRATCHING THAT BOARD (vrecka, vrecka!)

Now that you've got your image transferred and you're happy with your shapes of value, go ahead and grab your scraper tool of choice and go at it!  If you're hesitant to proceed, the best place to start would be the center of a highlight where you have some wiggle room to test your technique.  Remember the shading methods that I outlined above, but don't be afraid to experiment!  Try slow deliberate scratches.  Try fast and sloppy scratches!  Try parallel lines for grey tones, or add perpendicular lines to go even brighter (hatching & cross-hatching)!  You can even make quick little pecks at the surface to make small dots of value (stippling).  

A word of advice--work the whole surface evenly and don't spend too much time in one place.  Make sure you're moving around and addressing the whole image, gradually bringing those highlights out together.  That way you won't find that you've overworked your image or dug too deep into the surface. 

I broke my own rules, getting a little gung ho on the dogs while ignoring the background... oh well :) 

Keep on alternating your area of focus, always referencing your original image to make sure you're getting the values right.  Try looking at it upside down (remember, this tricks us into really SEEing the values as they are, not as our brains THINK they are).  And make sure you stand up every few minutes to look at it from a distance.  It's easy to get tunnel vision and get overly hung up on the fine detail without seeing the image as a whole.

On the next and final entry of the BigDumbAnimal Scratchboard Tutorial, we'll look at some more techniques for refining the image and how to fix those boo boos that inevitably will happen.  But don't worry, it's only art!

... Continue to Part 4

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