Pyroargraphy - Pokémon Wood Burning

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About: I'm a mechanical engineer in the Eindhoven region. In my spare time I like to make random stuff, both usefull and especially useless.

Pyroargraphy - [ pahy-rawrg-ruh-fee]

noun, plural py·roarg·ra·phies for 2.

  1. The art of decorating wood, leather, etc. with burn marks resulting from controlled application of a heated tool. The piece of art should contain a combination, known as mash-up, of Pokémon and some other form of pop-culture.
  2. A Pokémon art-piece made by this process.

Etymology: The term is a composed word, from the Pokémon Pyroar and pyrography, where pyrography literally translates as "writing with fire", from the Greek pur (fire) and graphos (writing).

With that introduction it should be obvious what this Instructable is about. We're going to learn how to make a piece of Pokémon mash-up art using pyrography. I bought myself a wood burning kit some time ago, so this would be advanced practice.

I wanted to embrace my inner Nerd by making something awesome related to pop-culture I like. Since there is a lot of that, it shouldn't be to hard. But still I couldn't make up my mind on what it should be. That was until I stumbled upon an image of Pokemon Groot & Rocket. From that moment on it went quickly and ideas popped up: "Pokémon of the Galaxy"; Newt Charmander in "Fantastic Pokémon and how to catch 'em" and with the last season of Game of Thrones it wasn't to hard to come up with "House Chargaryen" (yes, Charizard is my favorite). Pyroargraphy was borne.

At least one (and maybe two) more piece of Pyroargraphy is on its way at the moment: "Alakazamdalf, You Cannot Catch 'Em!!" (and partially started working on the design for Newt Charmander in "Fantastic Pokémon and how to catch 'em"). I'm planning to put it in this Instructable as a new step eventually, but if you want to be sure you can see it follow me on Instagram, it will definitely be posted there.

Now have fun, burn 'em all, and don't forget to vote for me in the Fandom Contest if you like my Instructable.

Step 1: Tools & Materials

Tools:

  • Wood burning pen, if possible with different pen-tips.
  • Pen & pencils
  • PC with photo editing software
  • Printer

Materials:

  • Piece of wood big enough for your design
  • Transfer paper
  • Paper
  • Wood finish like lacquer, oil, etc. (Not explained explicitly in this Instructable)

About wood choice:

Many species of wood can be used for wood burning. However, you need to realize some may be toxic, so make sure you know what you are doing. Until now I only used pieces of oak because I had them laying around. But after some research, most people suggest to use poplar due to its wood burning conditions. It burns to a nice dark black and has very little difference in the grain while burning.

For the pieces presented in this Instructable I used plywood. Normally I would suggest not to use this due to the glue and the thin layers. However, this piece had quite a 'thick' final layer, so I decided it was fine to use for this time. Still I worked in a well ventilated area (next to open garage doors) and wore a face mask for protection.

Step 2: Draw 'em All / Create Your Drawing

Alright, it's time to draw 'em all. I can draw, but I'll be honest, I'm no real Smeargle. So when it came down to drawing something for this project I had to tackle it some different way. That's why I decided I would start with existing drawings I got from the internet and I would change them according to my idea. When working with multiple separate drawings, they can be brought together in a single collage.

Step 1:

Find the best suited Pokémon for your characters. Some will be obvious, other require some additional thinking or research. For example: I found the Rocket / Groot combo while searching Google Images. But a good Thunderbird for "Fantastic Pokémon" needed some digging.

Tip:

Use one of the many pokédexes (or is it Pokédices) found on the internet.

Step 2:

Adjust the characters to look like the character they are supposed to be. Sometimes this means a lot of adaptions, sometimes a single accessory can do the trick. Again, for the Rocket / Groot combo I only needed to change the pose (Rocket already got a blaster), because I wanted them to be in the characteristic pose with Rocket on the shoulder of Groot.

Tip:

Print the linework of the drawing you found in a very light grey. Now you can use normal pencils to draw your design with adaptations on top of the original. This should make your life way easier if your not used to drawing on a computer. To change a pose, just print a second copy and cut and past parts to change the pose. Use a scanner, or even your phone to make a digital copy again.

Step 3:

Once you have all your characters, its time to combine them in a single collage. Probably you have to make some adjustments to some characters to have the best result. Think about who should be where, what is it you like to visualize. For "The Pyroar King" this meant the characteristic scene where Simba, Timon & Pumba walk across over a tree-trunk while Simba grows up.

Step 4:

Now it's time to add the remaining parts. This will probably be the landscape and additional accessories to make the whole complete. Don't forget to download a Pokémon-font and add a catchy title somewhere.

Step 3: Trace 'em All / Transfer Linework

The most scary step if this is your first piece of Pyroargraphy, but it actually is the easiest part of the complete process.

Step 1 (Optional):

Sand your piece of wood. This is optional, but I find it easier to burn the wood when it is sanded.

Step 2:

Transfer your design onto the wood. I use transfer paper to do this. But do this however you like.

Step 3:

Trace your design using the wood burning pen.

Tip:

If you're not familiar with the wood or the pen. First try out the pen on a test piece of wood to see how it works with that type of wood. Adjust the temperature and tip to provide you with the best result you can make.

Step 4: Shade 'em All / Add Coloring & Shades

For me this is the most fun part of Pyroargraphy. It brings the entire piece to life. Up to now I always start with linework, mainly based on others people work or based on a photograph. But I will always try to add some 'realistic' shade to make it look like my drawing. This step can take quite a while and may be a little bit daunting. But start with confidence and the more you do it, the better you will get and the more complicated works you can make.

Step 1:

'Color' all of your characters. Since you can only burn the wood, the 'coloring' is more like 'graying'. I myself like to burn also the wood that doesn't need to be burned. So I burn it so lightly it's not darkening, but it changes the texture of the wood to be more in line with the rest of the work.

Tip:

Something I haven't talked about but what is quite important is the tip of the wood burning pen. There are a lot of different tips available, but I guess there are at least two you can't go without. The first one is similar to a pen and looks like a ball-point pen. This is the one I used for tracing the line work. A 'shader', which is a flattened tip, is used to add the color and shading. I'm not the most experienced wood burner, but I quickly realized I wanted to make some minor adjustments to my tips. My advise is to do this if you feel the same way, in my case it vastly improved my work.

Step 2:

Add shades to you character. First decide where your light source is and based on the light source add shades to your characters (darken the color you already added). When you become a little bit more experienced. You probably also want to add highlights to you piece. Since you can't burn something to a lighter color, the highlights should not be colored during step 1.

Tip:

Brush your tip regularly. While burning charred wood will gather on your tip making your tip less accurate and it will probably not burn as good.

Step 3:

Repeat the first two steps for your background. Depending on your desired piece you can play with the darkness of the background to pop-out the characters.

Tip:

Depending on the shade next to the shade you are working on, it may appear lighter of darker than something with the similar shade of grey. You can use this principle to create a more dynamic piece.

Step 5: Pokémon of the Galaxy

The first art-piece I made in the line of Pyroargraphy and also the most elaborate piece I made up to that point. Both in preparation art (collage) and the burning itself.

(And yes, I know Thanos shouldn't be there. But I still did it.)

Star Lord & Gamora:

First I wanted to make every member of the Guardians a Pokémon. But after searching for a proper Star Lord and Gamora, I realized it couldn't be done. That meant going for the humans of the Pokémon world. I wanted one of the main characters for both of them and finally I decided on Brock and Sister Joy. Brock is always in love with all the girls, in particular Sister Joy and Agent Jenny, but his love is never answered. Star Lord wants to hook up with Gamora, but in the beginning, that love is all but answered. To turn Brock into Star Lord all that was necessary was the helmet and gun. For Gamora I added her sword and clothing.

Groot & Rocket:

One of the easier, since I found the solution online, Sudowoodo for Groot (even though he is a rock-type) and Zigzagoon for Rocket. The drawing I found however, had Rocket on the ground, where I really wanted Rocket on the shoulder of Groot. So a little changes later and Groot & Rocket were finished.

Drax:

The big muscle man with red tattoos over his entire body. Look through a list of all Pokémon and as soon as you see this ugly Pokémon called Conkeldurr you know you've found the perfect Pokémon for the job. Add some extra tattoos all over his body, turn his pillar into knifes and Drax is done.

Thanos:

Finally there is Thanos, another easy choice which can be found with a simple Google search. Did you know that a shiny Wailmer not only looks like Thanos, but also has the correct color, purple? I added a gauntlet and some extra chin-stripes and also my final character was done.

Step 6: The Pyroar King

Well, it being Pyroargraphy, I should burn a Pyroar. At least, that's what I thought. So I thought of something fun, new and refreshing, "the Pyroar King". Apparently many people before me thought the same. Still, I made it different from everything I found. I went for the classic scene where they are walking over a trunk while Simba is growing up. This time I didn't want to make it Pokémon style, other people already did that. So I made the scene Disney style, but turned the characters to Pokémon.

Eventually I didn't burn it, mainly because without color I didn't feel that it really shows it are Pokémon. I did a couple of test with coloring the wood (watered down paints, sharpies, etc.), but I haven't found a solution yet which suits the look I was searching for in this piece. Maybe some day I will make it. For now, enjoy my drawing and use it for your copy of Pyroargraphy.

Which Pokémon are they?

  • Simba - Pyroar, male
  • Pumba - Pignite
  • Timon - Watchog
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    zakbobdop

    23 days ago

    Nice play on words there :D