This is a small selection of my wildlife scratchboard portraits. The gallery showcases different species, sizes, textures, and techniques. Featured here are some of my all-time favorite wildlife scratchboards and several crowd favorites too - all celebrating unique and finite details!
Kingfisher
African Elephants
Lynx
Ring-Tailed Lemur
Bumblebee
Tree Frog
White Tiger
Hummingbird
Northern Spotted Owl
Lioness
Sparrow
Wolf pup
Great Grey Owl
Red Foxes
Snow Leopard
Arctic Wolf
Ann, The Harmonius
Tiger
Gray Squirrel
Raccoon
Ring-tailed Lemur
African Lion
Jellyfish
River Otter
Herd of African Elephants
Gorilla
Gray Wolf
Green Iguana
Lynx
Bumblebee
African Lioness
Barbary Macaque
African Lion
Snow Leopard
Jaguar
Giraffe
Robert, The Wise
Black Panther
Peregrine Falcon
Our Wild Brother
Grizzly Bear
Pandemonium of Parakeets
Northern Spotted Owl
Flamingo
Chickadee
Eagle Owl
Bald Eagle
Badger

The Scratchboard Shop

Scratchboard artwork available for purchase can be viewed in The Scratchboard Shop!
(Not all pieces featured on this page are still available for purchase.)

Custom scratchboard pet portraits and custom wildlife artwork are available year-round.
For more important information about commissioning a pet portrait, head to the Commissions Page.
For more information about having a wildlife scratchboard created just for you, head to the Wildlife Commissions Page

Why I love Scratchboard

More About Scratchboard

My work is exclusively black and white. Scratchboard is perfect for detailed wildlife work because it's a high contrast medium and it  produces very unique images that are difficult to attain in other mediums.

 

Scratchboard is an old, but resurging medium that many people, many artists, still are not familiar with.  I really enjoy introducing people to scratchboard and encouraging others to try it.  Different challenges come with each new piece - bring it on!

I have a three-part blog series answering your questions about scratchboard and my process:

FAQ One  |  FAQ Two  |  FAQ Three

I answer some of the FAQs further down on this page.

For more about the tools I use to create my scratchboard wildlife artwork, take a look at this blog post.

For a discussion and examples of basic scratchboard techniques for you to try at home, head to this blog post.

My Favorite Subject

I have always been completely fascinated by the creatures of Africa.  They represent life as it was before us and signify what life is becoming because of us.  Despite their many hardships, they survive.  They are majestic and free.  They are the royalty of the animal kingdom.  

 

I focus on wildlife because of their beauty and want to help protect them.  They deserve our respect and deserve to have their stories told. I hope to be a vessel for translating that story to more people.

History of Scratchboard

Scratchart is an old artform and was once used to illustrate magazines and newspapers, but was substituted with newer technologies.  Scratchboard art is now experiencing a resurgence as a fine art medium.

The International Society of Scratchboard Artists (ISSA) provides a brief history here.

Scratchboard FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Scratchboard
What IS Scratchboard?
Scratchboard is a subtractive medium. A masonite board is coated in compressed white clay and black india ink.  I use a variety of abrasive tools to scratch away the top black layer of ink to reveal the white layer beneath.  Scratches are placed in layers to obtain the desired values of gray and white and to create different textures.
How do you get the GRAY values?
The gray in each piece is an illusion of the scratches. Each individual scratch is white. The gray is created by how thick each scratch is and how close together they are. There is no gradient from black to white on the board. 
How LONG does a scratchboard piece take?
The time to complete each piece is dependent on how large it is, the composition, and what textures are involved. A 5"x7" piece typically takes 6-10 hours. An 8"x10" piece typically takes 18-25 hours. Anything larger than an 11"x14" is very dependent on textures...a 10"x20" elephant takes about 3x the time a 10"x20" big cat takes.
How do you FIX a mistake?
My process is pretty slow, so large unmanageable mistakes are very rare. I can use ink washes and ink pens to darken areas and 'mask' a mistake, but there is no way to cover it as if it wasn't there.
Blog Post on Inks
Melissa Helene Scratchboard, Wisconsin scratchboard artist, scratchboard tools
What TOOLS do you use?
I have two tools I use for each and every piece - a small fiberglass brush and x-acto knife. I have other wire brush tools, sand paper, and knives for specific textures.
Blog Posts:
Tools of Scratchboard
Fiberglass Brush
X-Acto Knife
Are the scratchboards PROTECTED and can they still be scratched?
Archival varnish is sprayed on every piece to help protect it from dirt, dust, moisture, UV damage, and minor scratches. The artwork is perfectly safe being displayed in your home and is more durable than most assume. However, pieces should be protected during transport because the varnish can be scratched through if gouged with a sharp object. 

Never miss an announcement about sales on my artwork, special offers on custom work, artwork giveaway details, and other offers only available to those on my email list!

MH

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Badger

5x7 scratchboard