Wood Burning Technique Samples

You have had a chance to look over the basic wood burning tool and learn a few tips about using the burner in The Basic Wood burning Tool.  The second part of this series, Basic Wood burning Strokes and Textures, showed some of the different effects you can create with your tool.  In this online article by Lora Irish we will look at some of the projects that you can create using the art of pyrography to create realistic styled burned art or use it in your wood carving to create finely sculptured and detailed pieces.

The primary use of a pyrography tool is to create detailed burned lines, patterns, and images in a craft project.  From very simple outlined designs to fully detailed, shaded projects, pyrography is the art of drawing with a hot tipped pen.  Let’s look at some of the types of wood burning projects you can easily create.

Simple outlining using a wood burning tool

Using a ball tip or looped tip pen and an mid-range heat setting any pattern can be worked by burning just the outlines of the design.  Outlining is perhaps the most basic style of wood burning and easily accomplished by tracing your pattern to the wood then following the patterns lines with the tip of your pen with an even, controlled speed.

outlining a pyrography pattern

Working with tonal values

Tonal values, the range of sepia brown colors from pale cream through chocolate black, at depth and shadow to your wood burning projects.  Tonal values are created by adjusting your temperature setting from cool heat to hot, the density of line strokes that you use in one area of the design, and by the speed or motion of your hand across the board.

tonal values for pyrography

Combining tonal values and outlining

With any fill or texture stroke you can combine outlining and tonal value to shape and shadow your patterns.  In the sample below the daisy pattern is first worked using a scrubbie texture stroke and the ball or looped tip pen.  Some areas are worked on a cool heat setting with loosely packed lines, others use a hotter setting and more densely packed strokes.

using tonal values and outlines

Working towards a realistic style of pyrography

With the addition of a spear or curved tip pen you can create graduated shading with richer, deeper tonal value.  This gives a feeling of realism to your pattern.  With realistic styled work the outer edges of the design are accented with very thin line work only where it is necessary to separate an outer very pale tonal value from the background wood.  Fine detail lines are added in the same manner.

realistic pyrography patterns

Ceremonial Mask

The Ceremonial Mask wood burning project shows a graduated shading of the basic elements in a face or portrait.  This beginner’s level work uses layers of burned texture to slowly develop the changes from the palest tones to the darkest and can be created using a one temperature tool, rheostat tool, or variable temperature tool.  There is no outlining in this work, and only a few areas use accent lines to define the area.  This project is a wood burning free online project post – Ceremonial Mask Project by Lora Irish.

Pyrography Mask Project by Irish

Inexperienced to expert in a flash

This art form, pyrography, is one where any new wood burner goes from inexperienced in using the tool tips, tonal values, and heat settings to an expert in their chosen style within just a few projects. If you have worked any of the arts as painting, tole, drawing, or pen and ink, to master the art of wood burning simple requires your learning to work with the tools, pens, and media we use.

The Flamingo wood burning project will teach you how to plan and map your shaded areas in pale tonal values before you begin your hotter temperature setting burns.

In the Sea Dragon practice board you can learn how to establish the light source and shading in a line art pattern.


The Cougar Portrait is a free pyrography project here on our blog that will take you through the steps to create this shaded, detailed work.


The Pixie Queen portrait takes you through an in-depth look at burning the human face.

Portrait Burning

Here’s your free Lora S Irish pattern for this online wood burning article that you can use to practice outlining, outlining and tonal values, and tonal value painting.

free Lora Irish pyrography pattern

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