Cougar Pyrography Project

by Lora S. Irish



This cougar’s face is a study of very fine lines, each worked in the direction of the curvature of the facial area. The temperature settings of your variable temperature burning unit determines the tonal value darkness of each line. There are no outlines or edge defining lines anywhere in this burn. Instead the ends of the fine lines are used to establish the edges of each area.

A dark spot will develop at the starting point of each fine line with the line ending with its palest tonal value burn. By positioning your tool tip at the beginning of the shadow area and working the pull of the stroke into the paler areas of the facial feature you can create an extremely realistic curvature to the muscle structures of this cat.

Please browse through all of the instructions before you begin this project. If you compare the first traced line photo to this finished photo you will see that I lost some of the side of the neck and part of the lower chin during the burning process. I believe that during the early stage that the side of my hand may have erased these pencil tracing lines. You may wish to alter your tracing pattern to fit my finished piece or to complete the design following the original pattern.

Click on any image for a close-up, enlarged photo or pattern.


Variable temperature wood burning system
standard writing tip or rounded heel tip
12″ square 1/8″ thick birch plywood
soft #2 – #4 pencil
320-grit sandpaper
white artist eraser
v-gouge carving tool
leather strop and honing compound
acrylic spray sealer


Pattern work

There are two patterns for this project, one line art pattern for tracing and one stroke direction pattern.  Please print a copy of each.  The full size patterns are found by clicking on the images below.  They are offered courtesy of Art Designs Studio and for Personal Use Only.

2013 LSIrish Pattner 602013 LSIrish Pattner 61










cougar-01Step 1

Lightly sand the birch plywood using fine, 320-grit, sandpaper. Work the sandpaper with the direction of the wood grain to avoid creating fine cross grain scratches. Wipe the surface with a clean, dry cloth toe remove any sanding dust.

Step 2

Rub the back of your pattern paper with a soft #2 or #4 pencil to completely coat the surface. Tape that pattern, face up, onto your plywood, centering the cougar face to the board. Using an ink pen trace along the pattern lines. Remove the pattern paper. The graphite rubbing will leave fine light gray pattern lines on your board.


1 thought on “Cougar Pyrography Project”

  1. Pingback: Pyrography Styles - Pointillism |

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