This is the project that students (or their moms) stop me years later to let me know that they still have it hanging in their home. When we start this project they have a solid foundation of skills and their confidence is high. Confidence is definitely needed for a not so forgiving medium.
The main aspect I stress throughout this project is practice! I have 2 x 2″ pieces available throughout the entire project and stress practicing before moving onto the real deal. I never scratch on a student’s project, but I will play on a piece of practice paper to help problem-solve for a technique that matches what they are trying to emulate.
I have found my favorite scratching tool is an Exacto blade. I like how sharp it is, but dislike how dangerous it can be. I tell them a couple embellished gruesome horror Exacto blade stories and that usually keeps them on their toes. I also have scratching tools available and some like them better.
I use peer critiques a lot throughout the year, but I really like using them during this project. Sometimes I think they are a little more brutal than I am, plus I can’t catch every improvement suggestion like they can.