Scratchboard art is a form of direct scratching using a sharp pointed tool to etch out an image or scene. Traditional scratchboard is a three-layer medium made up of a support surface, which is coated with a layer of smooth white clay and then sprayed with a layer of thin black ink. The artist then scratches through the layer of ink to expose the white clay below. A variety of tools can be used to get different effects, including a hobby knife, steel wool, sandpaper, or a fiberglass brush.
Color can be added to the exposed white areas of the work with inks or paint. Some artists prefer to work directly on white, un-inked boards, which are called clayboard. They can paint directly on the white clay surface and then scratch back to the white again after the paint dries. Depending on the size of a piece it can take anywhere from 15 hours to 100 hours of scratching to be completed.