Scratchboard Superhero


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After taking a look at What the Scratchboard Medium is all about…

[another artist, Thomas Ott, you might want to check out]

OK? Ya done?  Good  First things first take a 2″ x 2″ piece of Scratchboard and try it out. Oh- as usual One mark off per drop of blood– so BE CARFUL WITH THE TOOLS!  You can use anything with a point/s to scrape off the top coating so try some different things out.

Your Assignment is all about Superheros


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  1. What is a Superhero
  2. The History of Superhero’s in comic books
  3. The Superheroes Psychology

[All images on this page are used with permissionof the  Artist
Artwork ©Dirk Shearer,]


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But not just ANY super hero I want you to turn yourselves in to


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Step one: Building your idea

Think about how to turn yourself into a superhero.  I want Each of you to write up a page, or three… (if you are up for it make me a comic!!!), telling me about your superhero self. Use the How to envision yourself as a Superhero list to stimulate your ideas.
Email  your paragraph to

Oh- we will be spending time in our new Learning Commons so you will have access to the internet to do your research and you writing.

Step two: Visually developing your ideas

Sketch your Brains out!!! I want to see, in your sketchbook, a development of your ideas in your writing from Step One.  This means at least a page of thumbnail sketches of different character designs.  Then once you have found the design you like, which would incorporate you crest, costume, etc I want another page of simple sketches of the whole figure.  From there start working on a portrait of your superhero which accentuates their vibe.

At this point you have to think about the Lines and the Line quality you will be using in your scratchboard to optimise the medium.  Please revisit Scratchboard Medium.

Using Line effectively completed a 4 x7 ” draft.  This will be  transferd to the scratchboard.

Email me a .jpeg of your draft to

Step three: The Critique

We will be using the Innovative teaching space in our new JO Learning Commons for you to show your idea and tell the class about how your superhero evolved.  If it makes it easer for your presentation email some of your thumbnail sketches with your draft- the more images the less you have to talk!  I am thinking you each will have 3-5 minutes.  And yes, it’s for marks…

Step four:

Hopefully a Skype conversation with Dr. Amy Perderson from the UCLA’s Department of Art History with a specialisation in modern and contemporary art. Her thesis project was a joint investigation of Golden Age superhero comics and Modernist criticism and art from the mid-century period. Dr.  recently delivered a series of lectures on the history of American comics at the Museum of Contemporary Art in conjunction with their Masters of Comics exhibition, and her publications include texts on contemporary Chinese art and critical theory.

Step five: getting busy…mmm, doing some work
At this point we will be returning to the art room

If you want your Superhero to be Supe r you- Try taking a picture of yourself, in you best superhero pose,  then upload it to  the Photo-to-sketch site.   Print out a bunch of copies of  your sketch and start drawing as if you were working up your scratchboard.  Try different types of lines.  Really try and separate different things with the direction, or type of lines, you use. 

Transfer you draft to the scratchboard; Direct Drawing, Ballpoint Pen, Transfer Paper, and Xylene.I think we have some transfer paper kicking around and I will show you what it involves. And start scratching.  If you want really straight lines use a straightedge to help guide you scrapper. Remember, mistakes are easily fixed with a bit of ink and drying time!!!

Some words of wisdom from the artist, Dirk Shearer:

I hope your students have fun with it. Scratchboard is one of those mediums that kids can lose patience with easily. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve heard over the years, “I remember doing that in school… never done it since because it was hard.” Thing is, I don’t find it hard at all if you understand value, balance, and all the other elements of design, and then have the patience to sit and make a small straight line… but a lot of adults, and most kids, obviously don’t want to spend that time taking a deep breath, exhaling slowly, and working a snail’s pace just to make one straight line 😉
The rest is simply practising with different line weights. I look forward very much to the day I’ve got it mastered down myself, but in the meantime, I’ve found it quite a pleasing medium to get into.

All the Best!


Extension art projects:

  • How to create a Superhero mask:  see video here
  • Create a Superhero figurine
  • Create a Superhero comic of yourself