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Pastel & Colour: Exposing underlying layers

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This technique, called sgraffito, allows you to partially bring out a color by scraping the one on top of it. Use the tip of a knife or a utility knife to create the patterns you want. Have fun!


What you need to know

Sgraffiti are especially well-suited to oil pastels, preferably applied in thick layers.

This method is also useful with dry pastels, provided you fix the first color before applying the second one.

1. The basic technique

Press down hard on the paper with your stick to apply an ample block of color, covering the raised grain and the hollows.

Overlay with a second solid area of color, choosing a sufficiently contrasting color to achieve a clearly visible effect.

With the tip of a knife or a utility knife, streak the surface with fine lines to remove the pigments from the top layer: the underlying color will reappear

Use the flat side of the blade to remove more particles and create irregular marks, spaced more or less far apart.


Note: Apply the pressure of the blade evenly, to keep from damaging the paper. Choose thick paper.

2. Endless variations

Do you have the basic technique down pat?


Try some new effects:

  • Overlay three or more colors and streak more or less deeply to display different shades.
  • Use heavy grain paper to obtain irregular scratches.
  • Cover an already streaked surface with a new block of color.
  • Change the direction of your scratches, crisscross them, randomize them…

Anything is possible!