How to make custom DIY scratch art cards

The perfect DIY scratch art card

This home-made DIY scratch art card project is perfect for keeping the kids entertained over the summer.

You (and they) can make these scratch art cards out of ordinary arts and crafts supplies, and they’re really easy to make. Even my pre-schooler has done it! Read on to find out how.

pattern drawn on a diy scratch art card
Pattern-making becomes so much more fun with a home-made scratch art card.

My kids have been a bit indifferent towards scratch art cards when I’ve bought them in the past, but there’s something about making your own that they find much more exciting.

Child's drawing on diy scratch art card.
Our home-made scratch art cards are silky smooth to draw on!

We’ve tried out several different methods of making DIY scratch art cards, and came up with our own version after much trial and error.

We like this way of making scratch art cards because the surface scratches beautifully. ‘Scratcher’ tools just glide through the top layer without chipping, and make beautifully clear marks. This means you can also get lots of detail in your drawings.

Child drawing on diy scratch art card
Scratching through the black layer to reveal rainbow colours – magic!

Want to make some for your kids? Here’s how!


Below, you’ll find Amazon links to the products I used in this scratch art project. These are all affiliate links – you can find out more on my ‘about affiliate links’ page.

To make your own DIY scratch art cards, you will need:

  • Paint – black makes for a great contrast with the colours beneath, but any colour will work. I used the kids’ ready mixed paint (poster or tempera paint).
  • washing up liquid (dish soap) – mine was Fairy Platinum, but any brand should do the trick.
  • aluminium tape or one of the alternatives suggested below
  • card – it doesn’t really matter what colour, though white card is obviously best if you’re going to draw patterns on it for the scratch art background.
materials for making scratch art carts
Pens, oil pastels, tape and sticky back plastic – with these supplies you can make amazing custom scratch art cards.

DIY Scratch Art Method

1. Prepare your surfaces

Many people do this craft by completely covering white card with either wax crayons or oil pastels, and then just painting directly over them. We tried this too, and while it does work, we found we got much better results painting over materials that have a really shiny or glossy finish.

A range of glossy materials for making diy scratch art cards
From left to right: oil pastels,; felt-tip pens under sticky back plastic; aluminium foil; fluorescent yellow safety tape; holographic card.

Any of the materials listed in the “scratch-art-materials” section below will work to create your base layer of colour. We tried them all!

Sticky back plastic over their own drawings was by far their favourite. With this, they could create beautiful, colourful patterns, images or text using any medium they liked. Total artistic freedom!

Don’t be limited by our list though, as anything smooth and glossy to the touch should work fine. Experimenting is all part of the fun.

2. Mix up your paint

DIY scratch art materials - soap and paint
Paint mixed with washing-up liquid (dish soap) is the secret to making awesome custom scratch art cards.

Mix a little bit of washing-up liquid (dish soap) into your paint. Your mix should be roughly two thirds paint and one thirds washing-up liquid.

diy scratch art materials - paint and soap mixture
Two thirds paint, one thirds soap worked for us, but add a little more soap if your paint layer dries flaky.

We experimented a little with this to see if the soap was really necessary, so trust me when I say it is!

Without the soap, the paint will just flake off your surface as it dries. If you find the paint chips and flakes off in chunks when you try to scratch out a design later on, then you haven’t used enough soap.

Get this ratio right, and your scratch tool will glide through the paint coating, leaving clean and clear marks.

diy scratch art card mistakes to avoid - flaky paint
What not to do! Not enough soap in the paint mix meant that scratching the finished surface flakes the paint off in chunks.

3. Paint, paint, and paint!

diy scratch art cards ready for painting
Our scratch art cards, all ready for painting!

Using a soft paintbrush or mini roller, paint over your base colour with a thin coat of the paint and soap mixture.

It won’t sit very well – you’ll get bubbles all over it and it will dry really patchily.

But that’s okay, because the next coat will go on much better.

diy scratch art cards painted with first layer of black
Don’t worry if the first layer dries thin and patchy. That’s what your second coat is for…

Leave it to dry (ours took an hour or two), and then repeat with another coat of paint and soap.

You’ll probably need three coats in total to get a smooth, opaque finish that completely conceals the base colour.

diy scratch art cards made with paint and soap
All done! A few coats of paint and you’ll have a smooth surface ready to scratch.

4. Make scratch art

diy scratch art cards made with different materials
DIY Scratch art cards made with (from left to right): fluorescent safety tape, aluminium foil tape, and holographic art card.

Once the paint has all dried and you’re happy with the finish, the cards are ready for scratching!

I happened to have a few mini paddle skewers in the back of a kitchen drawer, and they made perfect scratch art tools. The pointy end was great for detail, while the wide end created interesting patterns and thicker lines.

Get the kids to experiment with different things – pencils, forks, toothpicks, cocktail umbrellas, stiff paintbrushes, coins…. Because it’s so easy to make smooth marks on these scratch art cards, there are no end of tools they can use.

Household objects used as diy scratch art tools
Kids love exploring how different objects make different kinds of marks

DIY Scratch art base materials

Compared to the wax crayon/oil pastel technique, these glossy materials make scratching designs much, much smoother (and oh-so satisfying!). You can get far greater detail in your drawings while clearly revealing the colours of those base materials.

Here’s a selection of our favourite materials to use – but basically, anything glossy should work.

Aluminium tape

This is very shiny, silver-coloured adhesive tape that has to be one of my all-time favourite craft materials.

Strictly speaking, it’s intended for plumbing and insulation work, but I’ve used it to make Viking swords, medieval crowns, enchanted mirrors and a whole host of other things.

Being metallic and shiny, it works perfectly for scratch art as it looks great when revealed through black paint.

You can also use adhesive copper tape (another plumber’s material, and commonly used as a slug deterrent in the garden), but this is usually more expensive – especially for wider rolls.

materials for making diy scratch art cards
All sorts of self adhesive tapes work wonderfully for making scratch art cards – these ones are aluminium and fluorescent vinyl.

Vinyl tape

There are all sorts of vinyl tapes around – the fluorescent-yellow tape we used for our scratch art came from my craft-heaven, our local Scrapstore, so didn’t have any details on brand or purpose.

But I think it’s essentially reflective or safety tape – and certainly those would work really well.

Vinyl tape comes in all sorts of colours, often fluorescent or metallic.

Home-made diy scratch art card made from fluorescent safety tape
Using vinyl tape for our home-made scratch art cards made for a super-smooth surface to draw on.

Metallic art card

diy scratch art board using holographic card
Green holographic art card makes for a fun base for scratch art.

This arts and crafts card you can get everywhere – they even sell it in our local corner shop.

Ours came in a pack of different colours, and has a holographic pattern that looks amazing when revealed through the paint by our scratch art.

Child's drawing on holographic gold card diy scratch art board
Gold holographic card makes a super-sparkly background for this space-race picture.

Sticky Back Plastic

AKA self-adhesive plastic film. This is the stuff we used to cover our school books in to protect them, but it works perfectly to add a glossy layer on your own drawings for scratch art cards too.

With this stuff, you can create your own base designs or patterns on ordinary card and with ordinary pens, paints, or pencils.

If you’re just doing a small area (creating your own scratch & reveal cards, for example), you could use clear packing tape instead.

materials for diy scratch art cards - sticky back plastic
Sticky back plastic creates a smooth coating over your art, perfect for making scratch art cards.

Wax crayons or oil pastels

Wax crayons and oil pastels will both repel water-based paints, so work well for scratch art projects. However, you don’t get quite the same smooth scratchable-ness as with the coated materials.

We also found that the colours can be muddied by the scratch art process so you sometimes don’t get quite as bright or clear a colour showing through.

diy scratch art board made using oil pastels
Using oil pastels or wax crayons makes for a more subtle result, but it still looks pretty!

More scratch art!

While ready-made scratch art card is relatively cheap to buy, the great thing about making your own is that you can personalise it exactly the way you want.

Make the base layer any colour, pattern, drawing or text that you want, and change up the colour of the scratch art card surface as well.

For example, my youngest is a big fan of red, so used that instead of black.

diy scratch art card - red paint on aluminium foil tape.
Nobody said scratch art cards have to be black…

It’s so easy to make these that my kids have been painting up whole bundles of cards over the holidays.

They’ve used them to make secret messages, treasure maps, and beautiful art.

diy scratch art card treasure hunt hint
Don’t just use custom scratch art boards for pictures – my kids love hiding secret messages and treasure hunt clues in them too!

With this activity you get twice the fun to keep them busy. Making DIY scratch art cards, then using them to make beautiful scratch art pictures!

Busy kids = happy mum 🙂

Looking down on child using diy scratch art
Rainbow colours are definitely this one’s favourite!

I’d love to see what you and your kids make, so if you give this craft a go then do let me know!

More from Rhubarb and Wren

Looking for fun things to do with the kids? Take a look at these great activities.

eco glitter and lino print
This plant-based glitter is biodegradable and non-toxic – and perfect for an Earth Day kiddie craft!

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how to make home-made diy scratch art card
Did you know it’s really easy to make your own scratch art cards? And making your own means you can customise the hidden layer any way you like – with your own drawings, hidden messages or even super sparkly holographic colour!


  1. Wow! This is so detailed. I definitely want to give this a try but may wait until Fireworks season so j is a little older. Thanks for sharing. I will pin it.

  2. Wow what a clever idea – I love it! You could make secret notes or cards for people, so cool!

  3. Oh my gosh I used to do these all the time when I was little, I’d totally forgotten about it! Definitely going to do this as an art project with the kids soon.

  4. Oh wow! I didn’t realise they were so easy to make from scratch. Will have to try them out over the summer holidays

  5. How have I never even heard of these? Can you tell I’m not a ‘crafty’ mum? They look brilliant. Might even have to give them a try when I’m feeling brave!

  6. This looks a fun and educative activity for both kids and adults. I mean, the kids can’t have the fun all alone, I have to join them. Thanks for sharing these great ideas xx

  7. I used to love these as a child!

  8. Gosh what a clever idea. I’d have never have thought to make these. They look so effective x

  9. This is a great idea for keeping kids entertained and something I’ve never seen before. I’ve been after things to keep my son busy this summer so I’ve pinned this to try with him!

  10. Oh wow this brings back memories, I used to do this when I was younger. Great idea to keep the kids entertained and with fab results x

  11. This would be a lovely activity for me to try with the boys. Thanks for sharing

  12. I made masks but struggling to know how to ‘seal’ them so when they are worn and scratched the designs are ruined. Resin seems a bit toxic to use as I don’t have a lot of space. Have you any ideas? Thanks

    • Hi Susannah, you could try using something like a spray varnish, but bear in mind that if you have used a metallic card, a varnish may dull down that shiny effect. Otherwise, a fixative (a spray used on charcoal & pastel artwork to keep finished pieces from smudging) might help, but what you are trying to do is stop something that’s designed to be scratched from being scratched… so it’s a little tricky! I’d say the spray varnish is probably the best option.

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