Simple Dry Brushing for Wood Carving and Pyrography

Turtle wood carving by Lora Irish.Dry Brushing Acrylic Craft Paints

This free wood carving project is taught by Lora Irish, artist of Art Designs Studio.  Drying brushing is the process of dragging a flat shader brush that is very lightly loaded with paint over a rough carved or highly detail carved surface, leaving a thin layer of coloring on the high areas of the work without covering the coloring that lays in the low troughs of the cuts. For this turtle we will use a multi-colored pale primer with darker dry brushed colors.


King’s Gold – yellow gold
Honey Brown – golden brown
Wedgewood Green – medium grey green
Nutmeg Brown – medium-dark brown
carbon black

1/2″ flat shader
soft buffing cloth
2″ x 2″ x 1″ basswood block
Turtle wood carving by Lora Irish.Step 1: Using a bench knife carve the turtle shell shape from the basswood block. Use a large round gouge to cut the areas between the top shell and bottom shell for the legs and head. With a v-gouge or making stop cuts with your bench knife carve the sectional detail lines of the shell on both sides of the turtle.




How to dry brush your wood carvings.Step 2: Pre-treat by buffing the entire carving with a soft cloth until it has a light sheen. Use your fingernails or a pointed brush handle wrapped in the cloth to get into the v-trough lines. Buffing lightly seals the wood, just as burnishing does.




How to dry brush your wood carvings.Step 3: On your palette place a small puddle of ivory, golden yellow, and honey brown craft paint. Load your flat shader in the ivory then pick up some golden yellow on one side of the brush, pick up some honey brown on the other.

Use the triple loaded brush to give your turtle shell one base coat of color. As you work do not over brush this base coat – allow each of the colors on your brush to show. Re-dip the corner of your brush when you begin losing any of the three colors.

When the entire shell is base coated allow this carving to dry for 15 minutes or nuke it for 15 seconds.

SECRET – I’m sorry, I lost another photo here. However, after I had the base coat applied for this turtle shell I found several areas where the carving was very rough. I had a very nasty area where the two shell sections intersect and several corners in the shell v-gouge lines that still had wood splinters.

With multi-color base coats this situation becomes very easy to correct. Allow the base coat to dry thoroughly – 25 minutes. As the paint dries it will make those wood splinters stiff and hard. I next got out my bench knife and simply re-cut each of those areas.

Because the background color is not one color I easily picked up a little paint and touched those areas up … you can’t see now that I needed to re-carve anything. Using a base coat, primer coat, or multi-colored base allows you this second chance at having a great carving.

How to dry brush your wood carvings.SECRET – You can burnish or polish your acrylic craft color primer coats to set the colors and bring them up to a soft sheen.  Using a soft, clean, cotton cloth rub the painted surface with a medium amount of pressure.  Continue rubbing until the entire surface develops a soft sheen.  Polishing seals the painted surface allowing any new coats of color to be applied more smoothly.

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