Scraperboard (scratchboard in the US) is something of a rarity nowadays, so I was chuffed to come across the website of a professional scraperboard artist producing top-flight work: Michael Halbert. Never heard of scraperboard? It's a thin layer of white clay (originally chalk) on cardboard, with a coating of Indian ink (india ink in the US). Small blades are used to scratch through the Indian ink to reveal the white clay. Varying cuts are used to create different textures, all in the brilliant contrast of black and white. The work is finer and crisper than Indian ink drawings.
Before the 1960's, scraperboard was extensively used by the advertising industry in newspaper ads. In those days, black and white photos reproduced poorly in newspapers, and the advertisers wanted crisp, clear images for their products. This was what the scraperboard artist gave them. Most people looking at a newspaper ad. for the latest vacuum cleaner had no idea they were looking at a work of art; they thought it was a particularly good photo! Improvements in newspaper printing led to a decline in the use of scraperboard.
Michael was kind enough to e-mail me some of his scraperboard pictures to illustrate this blog. I've combined a quarter-sized graphic of his image of a dog - created to grace a dog food bag for Ralston Purina - with a detail taken from the original work, to show the different cuts required for nose and fur. Do visit Michael's website (title link) to view his work at an appropriate size. You'll also find a Tutorial section which includes an animated GIF of a fire-breathing dragon: Creating a monster with Photoshop. Even if you have no interest in scraperboard, read Michael's tutorials, which tell you how he uses models, props and drawings to begin a project.