Scratch Art

Make an interesting picture by scratching lines and images on paper covered with a layer of black tempera paint.
Scratch Art


  • Heavy paper (e.g. cardstock, poster board,
    sketch paper)
  • Black tempera paint or poster paint
  • Crayons
  • Liquid dishwash soap
  • Foam brush or large paint brush
  • Wooden dowel, chopstick or toothpick
  • Pencil sharpener (optional)

Safety Tips

  • To avoid inhalation, do not blow the bits of dried paint that you scratch off. Instead, let the particles slide off from the paper into a bin.
  • Watch out for this sign Ask for an adult's help.. It means adult help is needed for the particular step.


Step 1a Scratch Art 1. Using crayons, fill a sheet of heavy paper with colorful shapes and patterns. Do not leave any white space or uncolored areas.
Step 1b Scratch Art *Younger kids may find it hard to color close to the edges of the paper. To make it easier for them, mark the area they need to color by drawing a rectangle at the center of the paper. After they have colored the marked area, cut along the edges of the rectangle.
Step 2 Scratch Art 2. Place some black tempera paint or poster paint in a palette or small bowl. Add a few drops of liquid dishwash soap. The proportion is about a drop of soap for a tablespoon of paint. Mix well.
Step 3 Scratch Art 3. Use a foam brush or a large paint brush to apply a thick layer of black paint. Try to make the paint layer as even as you can.
Step 4 Scratch Art 4. After covering the entire picture with black paint, set it aside to dry. You can check on it after a few hours. Mine took about 2 hours to dry.
Step 5 Scratch Art Ask for an adult's help.5. Find a pointed object to use as a scratching tool. Toothpicks, paper clips, or a sharpened wooden dowel or chopstick can be used.
Step 6a Scratch Art 6. Think of a picture that you want to make. Use the tip of your scratching tool to scratch out lines and make patterns or images. As you scratch out lines and shapes, the colorful crayon layer beneath the paint will show through.
Step 6b Scratch Art Besides making lines, you can scratch out entire sections of paint to "fill in" the shapes with color.

*Do not blow the bits of dried paint that you scratch off. Instead, let the particles slide off from the paper into a bin.
Step 7 Scratch Art 7. Continue until you have completed your picture.
Scratch Art Underwater Scene Create lots of interesting pictures using scratch art. You can make abstract pictures or scratch out an entire scenery!

This activity is also a great way to learn about color relationships and the use of positive and negative space.