Prepare a sketch for scratchboard

With this sketch I took some inspiration from the architecture of a catholic church I passed while on a family outing. The church is tall, yet simple. My drawing doesn’t look much like the church, but it was what got me thinking about it.

The sketch is rendered in blue Papermate ballpoint, my favorite sketching medium. I tend to sketch on lined paper – something I’ve been scolded for. It’s a habit from school and a psychological crutch. I have proper sketchbooks, but generally do better work in lined notebooks because I don’t worry about the outcome.


The snake is not symbolic. It was already on the page when i started the church. The church sketch kept growing until the two ran together. When I pulled the image into Photoshop I erased the snake and cropped the image to a ratio of 5×7.

The bottom of the composition seemed too plain, and I thought it would be nice to have something in the foreground. With a new Photoshop layer and my Wacom tablet I added an agave plant, and played around with the clouds.


I kept working the composition until it felt right, then printed it out:


The next step was to lay it on my tracing pad. I wanted to firm up the details in pencil and get the sketch ready to transfer. I always like to have the details figured out before moving on to the rendering.

Here is the final sketch. I scanned it and darkened the lines before printing it back out. I made sure it was 5″x7″ to match the dimensions of my Ampersand board.


I trimmed the excess and taped the top edge to the board. Using a piece of Chacopaper and a red ballpoint pen (find point) I transferred the drawing. The red ink helps me to know which lines I’ve traced.


The resulting transfer is not too light and not too heavy. You want something you can see, but not so heavy that it’s hard to remove. Super Chacopaper is the best for this. It can be removed with water. I generally use the dampened tip of a watercolor brush to scrub out any white lines left over after the rendering process.


This is about an hour into the rendering. There isn’t a lot of detail, so it goes fairly quickly.