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Some Essential Techniques To Try In Scratch Painting

By Colorelaxation February 18, 2019

The paintbrush is not only useful with the end with hairs on it, but you can also use the other end too. The technique called sgraffito or scratch painting is done using this ‘other end’ of the brush.

The Italian term sgraffito from which this technique derives its name literally means “to scratch.”In this form of painting, a layer of still-wet paint is scratched to reveal what lies underneath. The underlying layer can be a dried layer of paint or simply the white canvas.

Any object that can scratch a line into the paint is a feasible tool for scratch painting. The ‘other end’ of a paintbrush is the ideal tool. Other possibilities that can be used as scratch painting tools include a fingernail, the sharp point of a painting knife, piece of card, a comb, fork, spoon, and even a hardened paintbrush.

You can not only scratch thin lines, but you can also scratch broad areas using equipment like the edge of a credit card. While using sharp tools for scratching, like a knife, it is important to be careful that you do not accidentally damage or cut the support.

There are several DIY kits available for people who are beginners to scratch painting. Here are a few tips that you try in scratch painting.

Scratch Painting With Oils and Acrylics

scratch painting

One of the most important things o remember when scratch painting with oils or acrylics is that the color that you want to be displayed underneath must be totally dry. This must be ensured before applying the layer of paint that is to be scratched away. If this is not done, you might end up scratching away both the layers. Apply the color that you want to scratch through only when the initial layer has dried completely.

The top layer of paint that you apply, again, should not be runny. Otherwise, there is a risk of it running back into the areas that have already been scratched away. The top layer of paint should either be sufficiently thick, or it is prudent to let the top layer dry a little before beginning to scratch into it.

Scratch painting is highly effective with impasto painting. It provides another level of texture to the painting as well as the contrasting color for depth. If you want to have text on a painting, it is better to do it using scratch painting as it is easier to scratch words than painting them.

Scratch Painting With Watercolors

scratch art

Scratch painting on paper is very different from painting on canvas. Since the layer of paint on paper is generally thinner; scratching on it makes you scratch the paper as well. If the top layer of paint is wet, it will soak up the paint instead of revealing the white layer underneath.

Usually, a knife, sharp blade, or sandpaper are the most effective to scratch the surface of watercolor and create texture. However, you will have to remember that scratching will have ‘damaged’ the surface of the paper and it will be very porous and will absorb if the paper is painted on again.

You can add a little gum Arabic to the watercolors to give the paint more body. This will also make the scratch marks more prominent and defined.

Painting Hair Using Scratch Painting

scratch drawing

Scratch Painting can be a very effective technique for painting hair. You can just 'drawback' into the paint. This will create lines similar to strands of hair. Depending on the size of the object being used, the marks produced can be of varying width— where very thin lines represent individual hairs while thick lines can represent bunches or highlights.

Use Scratch Painting and the Canvas Weave

If you use a canvas to paint, you can use scratch painting to create some interesting effects and designs. If the canvas you are using has a relatively coarse grain or weave, like a cotton duck canvas, scratch painting can be done very effectively on this. When the first layer of paint is dry, you can apply the second paint over with a new color.

Then, you can use the side of a large painting knife or palette knife to scrape off the paint while this is still wet. This will make the new color remain in the lower "pockets" of the weave, as the knife does not reach into these grooves.

You can also wipe off extra paint by dabbing the canvas with a cloth. It is better to use an up-and-down motion instead of moving it from side to side. That will only smear the paint across the canvas.

Not only can you use this technique over a whole canvas, but also on a small section. Another variation technique that you can do is to wipe a painting knife, but with only a little paint on it, flat across the canvas. Till will make the paint go only onto the areas on top of the canvas weave while the “lower pockets” remain blank. This will leave a textured look on the canvas.

There are a lot of ways to experiment with scratch painting. You do not even have to limit yourself to using the technique with just two colors only. Once the top layer of paint has dried completely, you can apply another layer of color on top and scratch through this. However, you can also apply a range of colors in the bottom layers. This will make different colors show through in different parts of the painting and give it a more appealing finish.

There are several Do It Yourself or DIY scratch painting kits available in the market and leading artwork stores. If you are an experienced artist or even a beginner, you can always try your hand at scratch painting.

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