Wood burning the Wood Spirit face

Wood Burning the Wood Spirit Face

Wood Burning the Wood Spirit FaceDuring this Cross-Crafting Seminar we have looked, in-depth, at how you can use a scroll saw to add new dimensions your wood carving and wood burning projects.  In today’s post we will be wood burning the Wood Spirit face that we scroll saw cut in the last session.

If you are new to pyrography, please visit our links page Pyrography, found in the header nav bar.  This will give you lots of links to the tutorials, teaching sessions, and techniques posted here at LSIrish.com about wood burning.

As we work through these next two session to this seminar you will see that I am using pyrography to set my shadows and hair lines in the wood spirit face.  We will then use colored pencils to add the coloration.

Note: If you are new to pyrography, in our right hand nav bar you will see a free PDF on which pen tips to use, and what burn strokes each create.  Please download it now.

Cross-Crafting Seminar Introduction
Cross-Crafting Seminar Supply List
Cross-Crafting Seminar Free Patterns
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Scroll Saw Basics
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Setting Up Your Scroll Saw
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Scroll Sawing the Wood Spirit Face
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Wood Burning the Wood Spirit Face
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Colored Pencils for the Wood Spirit Face

Introduction and Supplies:

Wood burning tool – for this project I used my Optima
Spear-point, or flat shader pen tip
Ball- or looped-tip pen
Heavy-gauge wire triangle hair tip
#6 to #8 soft graphite pencil
green painter’s tape
white artist eraser
large scrap of brown paper bag
leather strop and honing compound

My recommended wood burning tool favorites include the Walnut Hallow Versa-Tool for first time pyrographers.  If you are ready to up-grade to a high-end, variable-temperature tool then I suggest either the Colwood or the Optima.

Below each pyrography tool listed is a link to an in-depth seminar that will not only give you a free, step-by-step project you can start today, but also allow you to see each of the three pyrography tools in use to help you decide which unit is the best for you.

These three in-depth tutorials are hosted on a wood carving forum.  Unfortunately I am banned/blocked from posting to this forum now because of technical difficulties on this forum.  So, if you have questions or comments about these three projects please email me here, through my blog.  Do not post to these threads as I can not read, see, or answer your questions there!

Walnut Hallow Versa-Tool

Walnut Hollow Versa-Tool Toucan Project  –  Looking for that first wood burning tool, then take a few moments and read through this tutorial for an in-depth review of the Walnut Hollow Versa-Tool used to wood burn a Toucan Family.


Colwood Winter Birdhouse Wood Burning Tutorial – This in-depth, step-by-step project focuses on a winter bird house wood burning scene.  The project takes you from the initial tracing of the design to the final coloring steps.


Irish Optima Pyrography Seminar  – This in-depth pyrography project shows over 250 detailed, close-up photos, step-by-step instructions, and in-depth explanations of texturing, shadings, and fine line work used to create the Advertising Barn landscape.

Note: Click on any image for a full-sized photograph.  Now, my apologizes!  I know that some of these photos are dark.  I accidentally got such a sharp polish on my wood during the crumpled paper stage in Step 1 that the wood had too high a reflective quality for the photography lights … AH!

Tracing a Pyrography PatternStep 1 Transferring a Pyrography Pattern

Before your trace your pattern, take a few moments to lightly sand your wood using a crumpled brown paper bag.  Paper is an extremely fine-grit sanding media and will remove any remaining fine wood fiber, polishing the wood surface.

There are several ways to trace your wood burning pattern to your burn surface, and those are explored in the link above.  For this project I chose to rub the back of my pattern with a soft, #6 to #8 graphite pencil.  Tape the pattern to the scroll saw cut wood with the pattern showing and the graphite surface against the wood.  Use an ink pen to trace over all of the lines.

The graphite from the pencil rubbing will leave a medium-toned grey line on your wood.  It can easily be burned over as you work your pyrography and then removed using a white artists eraser when the pyrography is completed.  Carbon paper, graphite paper, and newspaper tracing can leave permanent – non-removable – lines on your work … a pencil rubbing is the cleanest media for tracing.

Wood burning the wood spirit faceStep 2 Basic Woodburning Strokes and Textures

Using a flat, or spear-shaped shader, set your wood burning unit to a medium temperature.  For my Optima that is a setting between 4 and 5.  Lay the shader with the flat bottom of the shader on the wood, along the cheek at the side of the nose.  Using a smooth, even pull shade along the nose edge.

The inner corner of the eyes at the nose bridge is the deepest shadow point in the face.  The second deepest is the bottom corner of the cheek at the edge of the nostrils.

Note: Every wood burner unit manufacture has their own name for their own pen tips.  As example a looped tip can also be called a standard writing tip by a second manufacture or if it is from a third manufacture it can go by just an SKU number.  So the names for each tip can change according to what unit you are using.  Please check the photos for what shaped pen tip I am using and then use the closest tip you have for your unit.

Shading the wood spirit face in pyrographyStep 3 The dark shading continues, using the flat or spear-shaped shader along the bottom edge of the nose.  An extra dark c-shaded stroke is used to create the black of the nostrils.

At the bottom of the cheeks, next to the nose is a wrinkle area that is triangular.  This area is deeply shaded towards the black-brown tonal value.

The eye lids and eye wrinkles are shaded along the bottom edge of the pattern line, with the darkest shading near the nose and allowing the stroke to pale as you pull it towards the outer edge of the face.

With a light touch, shade the sides of nose.  Allow a very thin line of white – un-burned – area at the outer nose pattern line.

wood burning the wood spirit faceStep 4 Turn your wood burning unit down to a cool-medium tone.  For my Optima that is a setting just below 4.  Using the flat or spear-shaped shader shade along the outer cheeks, sides of the face and the forehead area of your wood spirit.  Allow some of this shading to move into the hair areas of the face.

Darken the inside of the mouth and the small space below the nose that separates the sides of the mustache with a medium- or hot- temperature and the flat shader.



wood burning the wood spirit faceStep 5 Begin shading the top or inner areas and sides of the hair strands using the flat or spear-shaped shader and a medium temperature setting.  The heaviest shaded hair sections are top of the mustache and the beard that is trapped inside of the sides of the mustache.  Use long, flowing lines to imply individual hair strands.





wood burning the wood spirit faceScan to this stage of the work: Click for a larger image.








wood burning the wood spiritStep 6 I have changed to my ball-tip writing pen and set my temperature to a high setting.  For my Optima that is between 6 and 7.  With the ball-tip, outline all of your pattern lines for both the face and the hair strands.




wood burning the wood spirit faceStep 7 Take a moment and with a white artist’s eraser remove any remaining tracing lines that are visible.  Use a dry, clean cloth to remove the eraser particles.

Colored erasers, like the bubble gum pink school erasers, can leave streaks of dye color on your wood surface that can only be removed by sanding that area back to the un-burned, raw wood.  White erasers have no dye and will not mar your burning.


wood burning the wood spirit faceScan to this stage of the work: Click for a larger image.








wood burning the wood spirit faceStep 8 On the high temperature setting, using a heavy-gauged wire hair tip begin adding the individual strands of hair.  Each strands is worked from its closest point near the face out towards the outer edges of the hair strand.

Since we will be adding colored pencils to this project not every strand of hair needs detailing.  For my wood spirit I chose those hair strands that were in the background of the design for his head hair, and at the top of the mustache and beard.

But hair is just plain fun to work, so add as much detailing as you like!

If you do not have a heavy-gauge wire hair tip you can use the side or edge of your shading tip to burn wonderful hair lines.

wood burning the wood spirit faceStep 9 The finished wood spirit can be left in just its pyrography stage or you can follow me in the next posting where we will use colored pencils to add his skin tones.







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