Saturday, March 2, 2019

A Typewriter Drawn in Scratchboard

In the July, 1938 issue, Art Instruction Magazine published this fine example of scratchboard art.


Scratchboard is a form of pen and ink drawing executed on a clay-coated surface. Black lines and areas are drawn with pen and brush, and then white lines are scratched away with special tools that fit into nib holders.

Scratchboard was used extensively for product illustration because it reproduces better in print than halftone photos do. Scratchboard comes in black and white. This example would have been done on white board.


Art Instruction said: "Scratchboard is particularly well suited to subjects which, like the typewriter, call for rendering in dark tones. Relatively small areas need to be scraped and there is great economy of effort in producing the desired effect. That is of course but one reason for its use. When skillfully handled it has a peculiar charm associated with wood engravings."

Art Instruction magazine later changed its name to American Artist. It was founded by Ernest Watson and Arthur Guptill, who wrote some classic drawing books in the mid-20th century.
Pen and ink drawings—and scratchboard drawings in particular—unfortunately just don't look as good on a computer screen as they do on a printed page, and maybe that's why we don't see as much great pen work these days. 

4 comments:

Glenn Tait said...

I did a lot of scratchboard in the earlier part of my career. It was introduced to me at college by Frank Neufeld famous for, among many other things, illustrating Alligator Pie written by Dennis Lee. It is a wonderful media to work with. Haven't seen much of the white board in years, which I prefer to the all black sheets that only seem available now.

Steve said...

A current master of scratchboard is Mark Summers. Wonderful work.

bunyan said...

My favorite scratchboard artist is francis lee jaques. He was a diorama artist is for the natural history museum in new York but illustrated a number of books on wildlife, nature, and especially the northwoods of Minnesota using scratchboard.

Ted B. said...

My best friend from High School later went to Art School and became a commercial art director. His specialty was scratchboard drawings and steel-nib inkwork...no computers in those days. Reproduction was all camera-work, lots of photostats and color separations.