Friday, February 22, 2013

American Eagle

This is my reconstruction of the coat of arms of the United States, one half of the Great Seal of the USA. The bald eagle stands with wings outstretched, holding a ribbon (traditionally a scroll) with "e pluribus unum" in its mouth. In front is the shield with 13 stripes, here engraved on a breastplate. In one foot are arrows, depicting readiness to fight if needed, while in the other foot are olive branches, depicting peace. That the eagle faces the olive branches denotes a preference for peace. Usually, there is one branch and 13 arrows, but I expanded it to make a nest of these materials (though I imagine half would not be pleasant to sit on). Finally, there are 13 stars above the head, showing through the clouds.

This piece has been sold, but prints are available.


This is a quick 5"x7" scratchboard I did in just a couple days. I have always loved red pandas - they look so cuddly (though I'm sure those claws would say otherwise). The goal of this one was to practice getting the color right, which took several layers.

WIP - Eagle

Here is the start of a bald eagle scratchboard. Even if you can't read the ribbon, you can probably guess where this one is headed. This is a drawing I have been planning for years, but never thought I could pull it off. Here's hoping it works in scratchboard.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Scratchboard Tools

I think it is time to introduce the tools I have been using for my scratchboard drawings.

Fiberglass brush
Originally I was apprehensive to use the fiberglass brush, but it is an amazing tool. It is wonderful to create the look of soft fur.

Wire brush
The wire brush is supposedly good for fur, but I find it is too coarse for the small size boards I am using. I have used it for grass.

Round blade
This blade is good for scraping wide lines and arcs, and for clearing large areas quickly. It fits in the red holder pictured below it.

Pointed blade
It took me a while to figure out how to hold this blade, believe it or not. I found holding it upside down works best for me. It makes fine lines and stipples. I use it for fur. Plus, used with a light touch, it leaves more of a gray line than a white one. I also use this one to lay out the initial sketch on the board.

The cross-hatch tool has five pin-like points of equal length in a line, making it easy to make five parallel lines. Hatching and cross-hatching goes much faster with a tool like this. I have not used hatching in my work, but I like this tool for fur and grass.

This is the paintbrush I chose to ink my colored works. It was inexpensive, but most importantly the bristles are soft and form a nice point. Good for details as well as larger areas.

Other tools (not pictured)
Oil-free steel wool is a tool I have (it came as part of a set), but I have used it only once. It was great for the fuzzy lemur fur, but I have not come across other uses yet.

Sandpaper is another tool I have tried. It hasn't worked so far in my small drawings, but may prove more useful in larger ones. The sandpaper leaves a series of lines in whatever motion you make, but they are not soft (even with super fine grit).

Electric erasers are also good for clearing large areas of white while leaving soft edges. I use one with an ink eraser.

A refillable ink pen can be useful to make black lines on a scratched-out area (like black whiskers, or adding some depth to grass blades covering a light-colored foot, for example). I didn't want to spend the money on something like a Rapidograph pen, but my father-in-law had something I could use instead: a ruling pen. There is no fillable cartridge; rather, it uses capillary action to draw the ink in between two pointed plates. The plates are adjustable so lines of different widths can be made. It is a pretty cool instrument. I will add a photo of it here soon.

These are the tools I use so far. I am still learning, and there are many things I would like to do but don't know how yet (like mist, sky, clouds). Given the cost of the boards, I will not be doing too much experimenting.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Guarding the Future

cheetah scratchboard drawing
I had started this scratchboard a few weeks ago, but once I had the mother cheetah in place I didn't have a plan to move forward (I tend to jump right in sometimes). It sat on my drawing table until recently, when I figured out what I wanted to do.

If you have followed me for any length of time, you'll know that I love wildcats. But to me, the most adorable thing is a baby cheetah. So I had to put a few in this drawing.

The original is 8"x10", and prints are available.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Forest Majesty

There are elk in mountains around where I live. Herds of them, apparently. I say apparently, because in the ten years that I have lived here, I have never seen a single one. (This year, that's gonna change). The reference photo for this scratchboard drawing was provided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

This piece has already been sold, but prints are available.