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What is this about?

I wish to make a scratchboard or scapeboard myself:

enter image description here

My Problem

Take a look at this video from David Rooney. He is an illustrator and I would like to build my own scraper board as he does. The problem is that he does not explain how to build the white background board. He says that is a chalk-covered board, but I cannot find it in any shop and I don’t know how to build it. Some websites say that they use a clay board.

My questions thus are:

  • What kind of board should I should use?
  • How can I find it?

What I tried so far

I found this scratchboard recipe. Basically the steps are:

  1. Combine 3 parts of glue, 1 part of water and 1 part of plaster.
  2. Apply a thin layer to the wood coat.
  3. Apply a thick layer going in one direction and wait about 10 minutes to dry.
  4. Apply another thick layer going the other way and let sit to dry completely for 4–8 hours.
  5. Sand down the plaster until smooth, using a medium-grit sandpaper.
  6. Mix together 3 parts black acrylic paint and 1 part dishsoap.
  7. Apply paint/soap mixture using a foam roll brush or just a foam brush. You can use black ink instead but the paint mixture seems to scrape off the easiest.
  8. Let dry for 8–24 hours before trying to scratch.

Note 1: You can use black ink instead but the paint mixture seems to scrape off the easiest. I think David uses oil ink (indian ink).

Note 2: I have tried with normal plaster but the color was not completely white. So next time I am going to try adding zinq oxide to the mixture. It is a white pigment to make it less transparent.

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  • For DIY art projects such as this my first course of action is usually to search youtube - these might help
    – Billy Kerr
    Jan 14 '18 at 12:23
  • I have already watched many videos on Youtube, but all of then are not serious, only for children, but thanks anyway
    – ChesuCR
    Jan 14 '18 at 12:32
  • Actually, I think India ink is the traditional top layer, it will dry to a nice hard plate finish. What plaster are you using? Plaster of Paris is typically bright white with a very fine grain.
    – rebusB
    May 21 '18 at 0:00
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What you are looking for, the base for a scratchboard, is Clayboard. It is available in art stores and online... search for art panels.

You can make clayboard a number of ways:

  • The Jimmy Arborough site has a recipe for rabbit skin glue based ground. Rabbit skin glue is tricky in that it requires hot water, cooling time, and is made out of rabbits. He uses about a 1:1 ratio of water to clay in his recipe.

  • The white glue and plaster method is popular and easy. Use plaster of paris not drywall compound to get a brighter white.

  • You could also mix kaolin clay or plaster of paris with regular acrylic ground and apply that. Here start with 1/3:1 ratio of clay to base, adding more clay to get the absorbency/feel you desire.

With any of these methods you can whiten the base by adding Titanium White.

Once you have a ground, apply it in multiple layers to masonite or heavy paper board in layers, letting each layer dry between applications. You will need a number of layers (5-10) to get the right thickness. If the board warps, try painting the back with an X of the same ground to pull it back into shape. When the board has dried thoroughly, lightly scrape the surface with a knife to remove any blobs or burrs, then sand smooth with a fine grit sandpaper.

To finish the scratchboard, take a dry and clean clayboard, brush or spray with India Ink, again layering until you have the tone you want. The result should be a smooth hard surface, ready for carving into.

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Manufactured boards (from the Wikipedia article):

For DIY boards:

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  • The dishsoap is only for the acrylic paint. I will pour it over the board when I get a consistent white layer. I have waited for two weeks and the mixture is still transparent, I think it is because of the glue. Now I am going to apply the zinq oxide, let see what happens.
    – ChesuCR
    Jan 21 '18 at 14:01
  • I have misunderstood your problem. I thought you meant the colour is different from white (like grayish or brownish), but not transparent. Yes, adding some zinc oxide to the mixture should do the job then - it's quite an opaque pigment. I see no problem with adding more layers too (up to 5 altogether is certainly ok).
    – user3216
    Feb 13 '18 at 23:19
  • 1
    Downvoted for link only answer. Links die, explanations are forever.
    – rebusB
    May 20 '18 at 23:54

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