Using a Scratch Nib for Corrections

The easiest, most common mistake to make is also the hardest to fix. Improper lettering. There are many ways I do this. The trick is to know the easiest way to correct them? In my opinion, it’s using a scratchboard knife.

Scratch Art knives from Dick Blick

Scratch nibs are commonly used to scratch through one surface to reveal a lower contrasting color layer. Remember, you probably did something like that in art projects as a kid. Some artists still work that way.

I prefer these to a sharp knife or an x-acto because they have a smaller sharp blade. The nibs fit a dip pen holder, are inexpensive, and can be sharpened by a whetstone.

I bought my first one as part of a kit at Hobby Lobby probably 15 years ago. The art isn’t trendy anymore, but you can still find the tools online.

My Scratch Nibs

The nibs come in a few shapes. As cheap as they are, if you already have a pen holder I would buy both and see what works best for you. I like the pointed #112 and the curved blade I bought initially, seen in the green handle. 

To use it place the nib in a holder, hold the blade at an oblique angle to the support and gently scrape. Remove a little paint or ink at a time as you pull the blade toward you. The more available space or the bigger the oopsie the more swing I get to the strokes.

This works well when I use an ink that doesn’t sink into the surface. Experiment with inks and supports to see what you like best. I think a slightly rough paper like Bristol board seems easier to correct than pergamenata or hot press paper. All surfaces seem to allow the ink to feather after correcting, even when I burnish the area well.  

The trick is to remove only the mistake after it is very dry without bollixing the support. I might go so far as to do the correct letter(s) over the mistake first and then scrape away the unwanted parts. That way I’m sure the ink won’t feather. 

As you scrape little crumbs come loose. I just blow or gently brush them away. 

I don’t think there is a good way to make corrections. I try to be very careful and I still make many. This just is my favorite way to do corrections, even if I have a whole page I want to scrape clean.

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