Red-Billed Hornbill in scratchboard

On my recent trip to Africa I saw many of these spectacular birds and took hundreds of photos of them (to go with the thousands of other photos I took). They would be out in the wild but also around the campsites of Namibia picking up the trash like all good scavengers (at least they didn’t invade the tents like the jackals did).

In this case I wanted to create a real sense of depth to my image so I used a variety of tools including sandpaper, fibre glass brush, scalpel, tungsten scribe, pen, coloured pencil (black) and diluted Indian ink, focusing everything into the middle where the actual bird is. I contemplated colouring it but since they don’t have a great deal of colour other than the red beak I decided against it as I kind of like the black and white look. It’s 8″ x 10″ and I’ve done an animated ‘gif’ to show the process through a few of the stages. I’m also showing a couple of close ups.

Here’s the ‘gif’ showing the process. If it’s not moving for you, just click it and it should.

“Hope for Africa”, a scratchboard portrait

Following along with my series of portraits from the school in Spitzkoppe in Namibia, I have my latest scratchboard of a gorgeous girl which I’ve titled “Hope for Africa”.

Firstly, what’s so special about Spitzkoppe? The tiny town is named after the rock under which it sits. We camped under the stars and woke up to this view

How magnificent is that!!!

Ok, to work. I’ve included a gif (an animation with a series of images rotating through) to show the different stages of the portrait, and I’ve also included some closeups to show the ‘feathering’ technique I’ve used. This technique involves scratching parallel lines, and then another set over them at a slightly different angle, and then more and more, each set at only a slightly different angle. This differs from ‘cross-hatching’ where your lines are often at 90° to each other. An example of feathering is shown below.

Now to the portrait itself

The gif which shows the work in progress

And some closeups

So if this is the first time you’ve seen scratchboard, below is a selection of the tools I use. I have described most of them elsewhere but I’ve only used two of them in this portrait. I’ve put the scalpel blade (extreme right) into the yellow handle for all of the ‘feathering’ as this blade can produce very fine lines and I’ve done the hair very quickly with the brass bristled brush (second from right).

I hope this has been of some use to someone out there.