How to Scraperboard

Scraperboard is a great medium and it's the one that speaks to me the most. It can be a little too time consuming for some, but for me, it's a meditative experience scratching away the image. In some ways it's like you are sculpting the image. Black lines are formed by carving around the lines you want. This can be a little tricky at first as you aren't drawing a simple black line but removing everything around it. you can create strong graphic images full of light, shade and texture. Scraperboard is also known as scratchboard.


First step is to draw a rough picture of what you want, paying attention of where you want light and shade.

Blue Pencil

Next step is to draw your image onto the scraperboard. I use a light blue pencil as it is easy to see. Make sure the pencil isn't too sharp as this will scratch the surface.

Pointy detail

The scraperboard tools I use can be bought individually or in packs. They are usually small pieces that are inserted into fountain nib handles. This tool is the one I use the most and is great for fine detail. you can complete an entire image using just this tool.


I call this tool the Comb. It speeds up the process a little and you can create some interesting texture. (Good for hair)


This tool that I call Round Head is good for removing areas close to the image safely. A big part of creating scraperboard images is removing the background.


A sharp flexible blade is awesome for removing large areas quickly and cleanly. When I want to leave a textured background I'll use the fine detail tool. Otherwise the blade will leave a very clean white background.


Once the image is finished, I like to scan it and then using Photoshop, play around with the black and white contrast layers so it looks good as a digital copy. The scraperboard I've been using is fairly cheap but works brilliantly. You can spend a lot of money on high end chalk scraperboard or not too much on paper scraperboard. Just be careful with paper scraperboard that is too thin. It's very easy to scratch through the paper. I hope that helps, have fun scratching. Jason Philp

© 2014 by Jason Philp.