Every White Line in these Ultra-Realistic Animal Portraits is Just a Scratch

We’ve seen highly talented artists burn paper, roller skate, and even kick a football around to create art. But here’s something new – Illinois artist Allan Ace Adams actually scratches away at paper to create breathtaking animal portraits. It’s called scratchboard art, and it involves using an exacto knife to scrape away a top layer of black ink off the canvas to reveal the white clay underneath.

A scratchboard is actually a hardwood board coated with a thin layer of porcelain clay. Another thick layer of black ink is added on top of the porcelain, which the artist has to scratch off in order to create an image. “I explain to people that I’m scratching in the highlights instead of the ‘darks’ like you would with a graphite drawing,” Adams wrote on his website. “Shades of gray can be achieved by how much ink is removed or by applying an ink wash. The ink wash can be scratched back though to reveal the white once again.”


Adams is a self-taught artist who has been drawing since kindergarten. He got into airbrushing as he got older, but the expense was not something he could keep up with. He eventually found scratchboarding in 2008, at the suggestion of a friend. Each piece takes him hundreds of hours to complete, because of the multiple layers of scratches that need to be made. Since every single line is created by hand, there isn’t much room for mistakes.


In addition to a scalpel and an exacto knife, he uses steel wool, sandpaper, wire twisty ties, nail buffers, tattoo needles and a host of other tools to make deliberate scratches. “Anything that has an abrasive quality can be used,” he explained. “The sky is the limit and exploring those limits is half the fun.”


“I have a strong love for animals and hopefully that carries through my works,” he wrote. “ I seem to be attracted to the “strange” or dangerous critters especially. The Great White Shark,  Wolves, Tigers, and various others.”


Adam also wrote that he enjoys doing pet portraits. “When I complete a portrait, hand it over to the client, and I see their eyes light up. I see the love they share with their pet shine through, that is the greatest feeling, as an artist, one could experience.”







Photos: Allan Ace Adams/Facebook

Sources: Allan Ace Adams, My Modern Met

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