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Ink: Making Scratchboard From Paper

June 9, 2009

Does your ink drawing have an itch? Would you like to be able to remove ink lines without having to gouge away paper along with it or mess with white paint? There are commercial scratchboards on the market that will allow you to do this (Ampersand’s Scratchbord for example,) but I have found a method to accomplish the same look using just paper. The source is my favorite magical finishing material, shellac.

Drawing in progress

Drawing in progress


Detail of drawing

Detail of drawing

Here’s a drawing in progress that shows an example of the effect. It’s made on a sheet of Multimedia Artboard with a wash of Dr. Martin’s Black Star India Ink on a single coat of shellac primer over casein paint. This first started out as a casein painting that I was unhappy with, so I covered it with the primer and make it into a drawing instead. (Question to ponder: is an ink wash actually a drawing or a painting? – Discuss…)

The materials used for my testing were as follows:
Smooth 140# Watercolor paper
3 pound blond shellac, and 2 pound blond shellac made into a primer
Scratching tools: solder tool with screwdriver and wire brush tips,
white Staedtler “Mars” eraser,
various brands of liquid ink

Some of the tools used

Some of the tools used

The surfaces were two small (A4 size) sheets of watercolor paper. One was prepared with a single coat of shellac (3# weight) and another with a primer made of 2# blond shellac. The primer was made by adding titanium white pigment and marble dust in equal amounts to an equal volume of shellac. It was applied in two coats. Both surfaces were given sufficient time to dry before inking, about 30 minutes.

The results on each surface varied depending on the inks used. For example, on the primer the sumi ink scratches very well, but won’t stick at all to the shellac paper. Deleter ink had problems on the primer, but worked fine on the shellac.

Liquid Inks tested (all were applied undiluted: )
Deleter #3, Dr. Martin’s Black Star, Higgins Black Magic, Pelikan Drawing Ink A, Sennelier Sepia, Speedball Super Black, Yasutomo Liquid Sumi Ink

Deleter

Deleter


Deleter on primer

Deleter on primer


Dr. Martin's

Dr. Martin's


Higgins

Higgins


Pelikan Ink

Pelikan Ink


Sennelier Sepia Ink

Sennelier Sepia Ink


Speedbal Super Black

Speedbal Super Black


Sumi Ink

Sumi Ink


Sumi on primer

Sumi on primer


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Although the Deleter ink has a crackled surface on the primer, it doesn’t seem to be flaking off; unfortunately, it doesn’t scratch off very well on either surface. Dr. Martin’s has a lighter value than the others and would need multiple layers to be darker. It scratches off easily but not too cleanly. It was, however, the easiest to erase which removes a larger area of ink (see my drawing example above.) Speedball performed the same as Dr. Martin’s but it’s a darker ink. Both Higgins and Pelikan scratched a little easier, but didn’t erase as well. The sumi would not erase at all, but was the easiest to scratch away, and you can see that it will only adhere to the primer, not the shellac by itself. All these liquid inks dried quickly on both surfaces.

In conclusion, if you want to use liquid ink that both scratches and erases easily, try either Dr. Martin’s or Speedball. Erasing is harder to do on the shellac, easier on the primer. If you only want to scratch lines, the sumi ink was best followed by Pelikan, or Higgins.

Next time I’ll post results from testing pigmented ink markers and my recommendations.

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One comment

  1. [...] is it allows me to fairly easily scratch away areas of ink. I spoke about this before in how to make your own scratchboard. It also helps me tidy up some of the lines. An example of this effect is the feathers that I [...]



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