In this Instructable I will show you how to take an image and burn it onto a piece of wood by hand. As an example I used the heraldic lion of the House of Lannister from the book/TV series "Game of Thrones."
Step 1: Supplies
-Sandpaper, 320 grit
-Graphite Transfer Paper
-An Image to wood burn
Step 2: Preparing the Wood
Now, take your sandpaper and sand the wood to a nice, smooth finish. I would recommend wrapping the sandpaper around a flat wooden block to make sure that you get an even surface.
Step 3: Transferring the Image (for Those of Us Who Can't Draw/freehand)
Take your brightly colored pen and simply trace over the image (see picture 4). Only go over the parts that you want transferred onto the wood. I would recommend no tracing any areas that you want to do shading.
Step 4: Voila!
Step 5: Safety and Technique
- Have proper ventilation (open window/fan)
- A clean and open work space with nothing flammable nearby
- Cold water and emergency burn ointment ( http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/first-aid-burns/FA00022 )
A) "Flat" side of the nib is used mostly for thick lines, gently curving lines, and shading (picture 3)
B) "Blade" side of the nib is used for fine details (picture 4). This can lead to very deep burns into the wood if not careful.
Remember that it takes a lot of practice to get the hang of it. I've been at this for almost 2 years and even I still mess up!
Step 6: First Burns
Continue with the rest of the basic lines. It will get easier as it goes, trust me.
Something I noticed while doing this burn was that it is easy to lose track of where you are in the work. You may find this the case when you get into more complex parts of the work. For example, i had to stop and think when i was working on the part where the mane overlapped the arm (picture 3).
Step 7: The Details
Without a video and a time-lapse it is hard to show you how to do detail work, but remember back to the technique of using the "blade" side of the nib for small details (picture 2).
A word of caution when using Pine wood: On the grain you will notice light and dark parts. The lighter is the softer wood. When you have to burn on a darker part of the grain (picture 1), you will notice that it does not burn as easy. You will have to carefully keep going over the same line until it is dark enough to match the rest of the work.
Step 8: Preparation for Shading
You may notice that there are parts on the work where you did not exactly match the graphite trace (picture 2). Worry not! Take your sandpaper (320 grit or higher) and lightly sand the entire piece. This will get rid of any shallow burns and graphite marks.
Clean all the sawdust off the wood, making sure to get it out of all the lines. You want a nice clean piece for the shading.
Step 9: Shading, Part 1
First, decide where you want to shade (lion's mane). Second, determine how dark you want it to be and if you want to change the shading in different parts (gradient). For the question of how dark, i would say that the darkest should not cover up your basic and detail lines (picture 1).
How to Shade
Use the same nib that you used on for the lines (picture 2). I use the end of this nib which is flat and about 1 mm wide. Hold the pen like you would for a flat line and barely touch it to the top of the wood. While keeping it on the wood, move your hand in a circle, keeping the the nib at the same angle. You should notice the wood to start getting darker. Keep doing this until you get to the desired shade of wood.
Keep moving the nib, if you let it sit in one spot too long or favor one part of the wood over the other, it will show. If this happens, try to blend the darker parts into the lighter parts.
Step 10: Shading, Part 2
I'll be using my lion work as an example.
After i finished shading the mane, I felt like the work was still too boring. I noticed that there were 2 other spots that would be prime candidates for extra shading: the plumes on the tail and the fur hanging from the legs and arms. I shaded them to the same darkness as the mane (picture 2).
For a nice touch, i decided to lightly shade the rest of the lion's body so that it would have definition against the regular wood backdrop.
The important part about this is to blend the darker parts into the rest of the light body. This does not apply to the mane since it is 'separate' from the body, but the tail plumes and arm/leg fur do. Blending is the name of the game.
Hint: If you mess up on shading, or just want to go lighter, don't be afraid to lightly go over the problem areas with sandpaper.
Step 11: Done!
At this point, you can leave the wood as is, or you can protect it. Polyurethane, oil, varnish, wood stain all work. A word of caution about these methods: If you use a dark stain, for example, the shading might be less pronounced.
Thank you for reading my Instructable and I wish you luck on your own pyrography projects!
Update: I have put this piece of work up for sale on ETSY, check it out!