Working with Levels

Level One – Deepest Carved Area

This level contains all elements in the background. For our bear scene this includes the sky and pine trees.

Even if there are no elements in the background area to carving I count the area surrounding the scene as level 1. This level is the deepest area that you will carve into the wood and determines the final depth of the entire work. I need to identify this level since everything else lies above it.

This design contains a fairly 3-dimensional deer carving yet there are no trees, mountains or sky area behind that deer. So only the surrounding “sky” area would lie in level 1.


Level Two

Looking at your color level guide you will see that level 2 contains the grass line and river bank behind the bear. This grass bank follows the bottom of the pine trees then drops along the edge of the waterfalls.


Level Three – Focus Point

Level three contains the main focus point of the carving. In this design that includes the black bear, his canoe, and the water in the river that is pushing him over the falls.


Level Four

Level four, the next closest to you, would then cover the water in front of the canoe, the waterfalls, and the water flowing down stream. In the example to the right this area is notes in the pale blue tone.

Level Five

Many scenes only contain the five levels as noted above, but with our Northwest Adventurer I am adding a level at this point to place a little extra emphasis on the salmon. They are my secondary focus points. This is a level that will contain just a few small areas of carving.

A secondary focus point level does not have to be in level five, it can lie anywhere with in the design. An example would be a carving of a hunting dog in front of a thicket along the dirt road bed. Perhaps hiding in the thicket is a rabbit. This rabbit would lie behind the dog and therefore be located in level one or two. However, since this rabbit also needs added emphasis, he is the reason that the dog is hunting, he needs the extra level. The sky would be level one, the thicket is level two, the rabbit becomes level three, making the dog fall into level four.

The salmon in our working example now become level five and are noted in the dark blue tones.


Level Six – Shallowest Carved Area

The last level and the one closest in carving to you is level six. For our pattern this becomes the foreground grassy bank and stones.

Subdividing Each Level

When the levels have been planned in the pattern stage I begin breaking each one down into layers within the levels. Each level can now have at least three layers, one behind, one in the center, and one in the foreground. For our black bear example in level three I would make the back side of the canoe my first layer, the bear becomes the center point or second layer and, of course, that leaves the front side of the canoe as the third layer.

With a six level design, as Northwest Adventure, that is subdivided into three layers each you will end up with a carving that contains 18 different depth points spread throughout the work …. Instant Depth and Dimension!


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