Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Guest Blog from Artist: Michele B. Naquaiya of Naquaiya's Cards

As part of Greeting Card Universe Community Blog, some artists participate in the blog challenges coordinated by Corrie Kuipers of GCU. We are joining in the game and Michele and I are appearing on each other's blogs. It's a great chance for us to get the word out on what we do and how we do it. I asked Michele if she would share how she works with the traditional method of scratchboard.

You can read my contribution on her blog:

Take it away Michele!

A little about How I draw in

Thank you John for inviting me to talk about scratchboard on your
blog. When you say scratchboard, or as they do in the UK,
scraperboard, a lot of people go back in time to their school days. I
know that you also mentioned this as the first thing that came to your
mind. Back then if kids were lucky enough, they got to draw pictures
through black coated paper with colorful foil underneath peeping
through where they scratched. What fun! Well, times have changed.
Although the fun is the same, there's more of it now and with a lot of
variety and tools for the modern designer. Now there is professional
scratchboard made on masonite, which is what I use.
The masonite panel comes in a lot of sizes, is coated with kaolin clay
and then sprayed with black ink. When I start to draw, it’s on a
completely black surface. Drawing is done by scratching or etching or
engraving away (whatever you like to call it) with sharp tools. One of
the simplest of tools is my favorite, and that is a craft blade like a
common Exacto craft blade.

Here’s a popular card of mine done in
several languages, this one is a German Birthday Card.

Scratchboard was originally used mostly for advertising and
illustration beginning in the 1930's because tonal values could be
achieved without color. That is to say, the artist could create high
drama with just black and white and by including many shades of
grey, he could give an optical illusion of depth of field. Scraping
through the black, if he made the lines farther apart, it was a darker
grey; closer together meant a lighter grey, which revealed more
white. So with only two values--black and white, tonal values were
achieved by creating a lot of variation in between. It became an instant
success with magazine and book publishers.

This is a rough little sketch. If I wanted to color it, I would use
acrylics to fill in the white spaces with color.
You can achieve many textures as by observing and duplicating
animal fur, reptile skins, tree barks, or other natural forms. it is really fun to draw this way.
A card for the Garlic Lover.

beautiful thoughts on Mother's Day, window view of river Greeting Card

This card shows how adding color changes everything and the many
layers of scratching involved.

If you think it is just a pen and ink drawing in reverse, it is not.
Simply inverting a pen and ink art will not give you a scratchboard
feel or look. Since this is a labor-intensive way of producing a
drawing, it’s not a practical way to produce greeting cards in volume.
But I have found that by playing around with small 5”x7” panels, I
can make drawings quickly.

You can successfully color with digital tools and I use Photoshop CS5.
In this program, you can also make scratchboard drawings by
starting with a black layer and on another layer, either use an eraser
brush or white paintbrush. So there are a lot of possibilities.
For the large originals, I color them with acrylics and various
glazing techniques. Coloring scratchboards is a long and tedious
process because by adding color, you instantly create a new tonal
value. Often it means re-scratching to build up the depth that you lost
by adding color. Usually, that requires the addition of more color. It
can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to finish a piece.
But obviously, that is another animal. I have a lot of scratchboard
cards on GCU and sometimes I think people don't know what they are
looking at. They are not sure what it is. Hopefully this article will help people
enjoy it more.

Thanks for the invitation to talk about what I love to do.

You can learn more by following these links on EBSQ.
View comprehensive demonstrations I've done live on EBSQ:

Scratchboard How-To Methods


How to color scratchboards


Thank you Michele for all the great information on scratchboard!
You really have some beautiful images and great card designs!!


  1. Hey John, Thanks so much. This looks great and I love the way this came out. It's amazing how artists work in different ways. So much variety at GCU it's always a surprise. A really good exchange. Thanks again.

  2. Very edifying to gain insight into this method of expression, and I can't help being fascinated to note, once again, that - whatever the medium - the artist's 'voice' somehow always remains discernible.

  3. As a child, I was always fascinated by scratchboard drawing, but had forgotten about that method ... so your interview brought back some nice memories. Maybe I should give it a try again, but I'd probably get frustrated as it sounds like it would take a LOT of patience to create art that way! Great work, Naqualya. Thanks for the interesting interview!


  4. Lovely piece and fascinating to learn how you use this technique in your cards, Michele! Thank you to both of you.


  5. Naquaiya, how nice to read about some of your incredible technique! As a fan of your work it was so interesting to read this post...THANK YOU!!...and as always your work is brilliant! Thanks for inviting Naquaiya John, great choice!
    Doreen Erhardt