How to Create Sgraffito

By The Arty Teacher - December 1, 2021

Sgraffito is a form of decoration or drawing made by scratching through a surface to reveal a lower layer of a contrasting colour.  This can be done on ceramics as well as paper.  This blog post is a step-by-step guide on how to create sgraffito on paper using oil pastels.

You are going to need 5 oil pastels.  You need to choose 3 light colours and 2 dark colours. Do not choose black as this makes things look very flat.

Look at your three light colours and decide which is the lightest.  Set your lightest colour to one side.  Using the two other light colours, create marks all over your page.  You can see that a majority of the page is covered.  The page below is A5 (about half letter-size).

If you are working in a sketchbook, work opposite a blank page as oil pastels can sometimes transfer a little bit.

How to create sgraffito

Next, using your lightest colour, add a layer all over the first two colours, blending them together and getting rid of any white gaps.

Rich layers of oil pastel

Next, choose one of your dark colours and add a layer over the top of your lighter colours.  I like the rough edge that has been created.

How to create sgraffito

Choose an image to draw.  Using a compass or a mechanical pencil with its led pressed down, draw by scratching into the surface to reveal the lighter colours.

Note that you can use all sorts of lines, marks, dots, dashes and hatching to create a good drawing.

How to create sgraffito

When you are happy with your drawing, use your other dark colour all around your drawing to make it stand out. Dark blue was used in the drawing below.

How to create sgraffito

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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4 responses to “How to Create Sgraffito”

  1. Jason Yap says:

    Hi, I’m gonna prepare sgraffito for 20+ children. Will black oil pastels become an issue? Do u happen to have a solution/suggestion?
    I’m gonna be using 1/4 of the drawing block to be distributed to these children. Shld I use 1/8 of the drawing block?

    • The Arty Teacher says:

      Hi Jason, Thanks for your comment. Why would oil pastels become an issue? Are you thinking of the mess? I’d get students to work on newspaper so that it’s easy to clean up and so they can work right to the edges of the paper. You could get students to create a small sgraffito and then, once they understand how it works, get them to work larger.

  2. helle says:

    So wonderfull to see all the good and exiting stuff here.
    Greetings from Helle

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