This is one of my current projects, a jaguar cub on scratchboard. I’m working from a photo I took at the zoo of Kuwan, an adorable male cub. At least I’m almost sure it’s Kuwan.

Scratchboard involves scraping through a layer of dry ink to reveal a layer of white clay underneath. White clayboard is also available so an artist can either put ink or other materials (like colored pencil or paint) down on a board and then scratch through that instead. The exciting thing about scratchboard is that allows one to draw in white over darks. Many drawing and even painting materials require darks to go on over lights, so reserving thin white lines is challenging if not impossible. Scratchboard is all about thin white lines, so it’s perfect for subjects with pale whiskers and tufts of fur.

For tools I mostly use a Speedball scratch knife 112 nib (a sharp metal point that’s a lot like a pen nib and fits in a pen nib holder), an X-Acto 16 blade, a 4mm diameter fiberglass brush that’s rather like a clicky eraser, and whatever other pointy things I have nearby that might work. I have a large soft paintbrush handy to brush scratchings off the artwork.

The following three images show recent progress on Kuwan. It’s slow.

Jaguar Cub

Scratchboard in progress.

Jaguar Cub Two

More lines are scratched through the ink layer.


Jaguar Cub Three

The current state of the drawing.

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