Detail shots of the scratch-board animal project. If you’re interested in teaching this project, here are a few tips that I’ve learned along the way. The white surface that you see when you begin to scratch off the black is very smooth and slick so when applying watercolor, I advised the students to use less water in their coloring. The smoothness of the paper is kind of an advantage in this project because the watercolor can be easily washes off with a clean brush if you make any coloring mistakes. It’s also a great way to experiment with different colors before making final decisions. If a large area of white has been scratched off, however, I advised the students to slowly paint a small section, let it dry, and then add more color. In the case of the cat’s green and blue eyes below, the student painted the eye green first, allowed it to dry, and then added blue. You can see the watery effect that this creates when the two colors blend together. Sandpaper is also a quick tool to scratch off larger black areas like the background, and it will also create softer tones. Using sandpaper also matted down the smoothness of the white are more, and it will absorb watercolor much better.
before & after watercolor
a detail of my example that I used for demos