Pyrography Styles – Simple Outlining

Simply outlining the pattern is often our very first project in pyrography wood burning.  After decades as a pyrographer I still use this art style on many projects because of the clear, crisp impact you get by just following the tracing lines.  Also called line art, outlining is often used in engraving, etching, woodcut and lithography.  For more please read this great Wikipedia article.

Learn more about art styles that can be used in your pyrography wood burning – Pyrography Style Handbook is available at


Very simple, very flat, and very two dimensional, a simple outline conveys your image without details or shading.

This dragon face is worked on a 3″ leather key fob.  Since he is both well detailed and worked in a very small space,  simple outlining is the perfect choice.

Please learn more about burning on leather, here at




The leather burned purse and the birch plywood burn, above, both use the same pattern from our pattern pack – Dragon Medallions.  It is the lack of shading and extra detailing in the leather purse image that makes the dragon a stronger design then the wood version.  The wood version almost has too much to see compared to the clean, crisp image on the leather.


Wood burning, especially on paper mache, leaves a physical impression in the media.  Santa’s outline literally drops down into the surface of this paper mache box.  The trough that comes from a simple outline stroke can also be used as a damn.  Here it works to stop the application of the acrylic craft paints from spreading into the background area.

Note on this little Santa, the background is not burned totally black.  Instead it is filled with the words, “ho ho ho!”

For more holiday and Christmas ideas to use with your simple outline style of wood burning, visit our holiday pattern category in our pattern site,

I have one more fun simple outline styled work to share with you.  Its a Celtic deer design.  While the above samples all use carefully controlled, uniform thickness lines, this hart uses thick and thin lines.  As you move through the pattern make some areas of the line width thick then taper back to very thin.  This adds a little dimension without losing the crisp, line art effect. is an affiliate of – Pyrography Style Handbook

Here’s a fun patterns for the twisted tail Celtic Hart. Click on the image below to save to your desktop.

Pyrography Styles – Pointillism

Pyrography is so much more than just outlining your pattern and burning the background to black.  Any art style can be created, using a wood burning tool and your selected pen tips.

Pyrography Styles Handbook by Lora S. Irish, at

Let’s look at Pointillism in this day’s post.

Pointillism, also called Neo-Impressionism, was introduced in the late 1880’s by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac.  There is a great Wiki article on this painting style – read more here.

Pointillism began as a new way to blend colors on a canvas.  Instead of blending two or three colors to create a new color, small, tightly packed dots of the two colors visually created the new third color.  So instead of mixing and blending cadmium yellow with ultramarine blue to create a medium green, a very small dot of yellow was painted next to a small dot of blue.  Your eye then blends the two color dots into the new green tone.

To learn more about Pyrography art styles, please visit for your copy of Pyrography Styles Handbook by Lora S. Irish – Your comprehensive guide to the 7 major styles of woodburning: crosshatching, realism, pointillism, shaded drawing, engraving, silhouette, and texture painting. is an affiliate of Amazon.

Watercolor Painting your Wood BurningPlease see our article, Color Wheel or Who is Roy G. Biv?

If a yellow-green was wanted the artist would paint two small dots of yellow next to the blue.  If you wanted a darker green, then the artist used two touching dots of blue with one dot of yellow.

The idea of using dots instead of strokes directly impacts how we as wood burning artists can create a pyrography image.  Where Neo-Impressionists used color dots, we wood burners use heat setting for pale, medium and dark dots, and density to create pale tonal area to almost solid black areas in our work.




Celtic knot pyrography wood burning patternFor more reading on pyrography and wood burning techniques, please see our pyrography navigation menu.

This Celtic Bird Postage Stamp burning is also worked in the Pointillism style, and available for free here at  This post includes the free Celtic Bird postage stamp pattern.





The cougar pyrography project will take you, step-by-step, through a fun, pointillism work.

This entire design is worked using only a small dash stroke made with a ball tip or loop tip pen.  How hot the temperature setting is and how densely you pack those dash strokes gives the sepia value range – pale areas, medium toned areas, and black areas.

This post included the free Cougar pattern and is one of the step-by-step projects included in Pyrography Style Handbook.

Posting tomorrow on Silhouette style burnings !!!!


Sepia Tonal Value Crayons for Pyrography

Crayons are a quick and easy media to use on your printed patterns when you want to test your tonal values before you begin your pyrography burn.

While browsing through the Back to School supplies at my local big box store I came across Crayola’s 24 pack of Colors of the World skin toned crayons.  This same palette of colors is also available from Crayola as marking pens –  Crayola Ultra Clean Washable Multicultural Markers, Broad Line, 10 Count,  and in colored pencil media – Crayola 24 Colors of The World Skin Tone Pencils.

(These are Affiliate links above.)

All these packs hold a range of yellow-brown, red-brown, and neutral brown color giving us, pyrographers, a full sepia scale to compliment our burnings.









Before you touch your wood watercolor paper, or gourds with your pen, use can use these color packs to establish exactly where you want your shading and how light or dark you want it.









Any mistakes or any decisions to change an area’s value is worked out on paper, not on your expensive basswood plaque.

Free pattern





Free Pyrography Clock Pattern

This pyrography project uses a 1/8″ x 8″ x 10″ basswood plywood plaque as the base media for my newest kitchen clock work.  It has been a fun project that’s included wood burning, colored pencil art, and collage applique, plus a little bit of bling with twine, silk flowers, and two black bumble bee accents.

free pyrography clock pattern

Even though the 1/8″thick plywood can warp with high-heat burning or high-humidity conditions, it is so light weight that the small quartz battery clock hanger fully supports the project – you can hang this anywhere.

My finished painted daisies pyrography clock is show displayed on a small wood easel and, while meant to go into my kitchen is still sitting on my computer desk.

Your free Lora S. Irish pattern is just below the supply list.


Supply list: links

Walnut Hollow Creative Woodburner Wire Tip Wood Burning Tool
(Note – this Amazon link shows the Creative tool on sale at 42% off as on Feb. 11, 2021)

8″ x 10″ x 1/8″ basswood plywood
(This link offers a 15 sheet pack of 12″ x 12″ x 1/8″ sheets)

Saral 12″ x12′ Graphite Transfer Paper

Quartz Clock Movements with Black Hands

Handmade Antique Deckle Edge Blank Paper – A4 Size Package of 50

Scotch Quick Drying Tacky Glue

Zenacolor, 120 Watercolor Pencils, Numbered, with Brush and Case

2 – black bumble bee picks (I found mine at Michaels.)

Easel Tabletop Painting Easel with Canvas Sets(4 Packs) Wooden Art Table Easel Stand


The featured quote: 

Time flies like an arrow: fruit flies like a banana. ~ Groucho Marx


Free for Personal Use Pattern:

free pyrography clock pattern

For more floral clock ideas please visit, my pattern website.
Henna Tattoo Patterns 1

Henna Tattoo Patterns 2

Floral Clocks

Step 1:  Prepare your wood plaque by lightly sanding the wood with 220- to 320-grit sandpaper, working the sanding strokes with the grain of the wood.  Remove all sanding dust.  Using graphite paper, trace your pattern.  Using the ball-tip pen and my Walnut Hollow Creative tool, I burned the general outlines of the daisy pattern, numbers, and quote onto my wood plaque.  I used a medium-hot setting of 6 – 8.

When the outline is completed, erase any graphite lines or pencil lines that remain from the pattern tracing step.

free pyrography clock patternStep 1


Step 2:  I was not happy with my lettering burn, but very pleased with my outline work.  My solution was to create a collage paper piece to add to the plywood that would carry my quote while covering up my wood burned letters.  I chose a heavy, yet flexible antique paper that easily went through my home computer printer.  You can see that collage piece temporarily placed over the burned letter.

free pyrography clock patternStep 2


Step 3:  Still using the ball-tip pen and a medium heat setting of 4 – 6, I have added shading to the background area of the pattern.  Lowering the temperature a bit more to the 3 – 4 heat level, I then worked light shading into the flowers and leaves.

free pyrography clock patternStep 3


Step 4: When your burning is done its time to get out your favorite artist-quality colored pencil set.  Do a quick google image search under ‘painted daisy chrysanthemums’ for coloring ideas.

I used tones of yellow through bright red for the petals, yellow greens for the inner flower leaves, and green teals for the background leaves.  Tones of sienna, golden brown, and chocolate make up the flower centers.

Both white colored pencil and white chalk pastel pencil was used to brighten the highlights of the work.

Lay several thin lines of quick-dry tacky glue to the back of your collage paper.  Use a stiff piece of card stock to evenly spread the glue.  Position your quote to your plaque and press lightly into place.  Place a heavy book on top of the quote to press the paper evenly to the wood and let dry.

Several light coats of matte spray sealer.  The sealer protects your raw wood, colored pencil work, and collage paper.


free pyrography clock patternStep 4


Step 5:  Here’s my finished clock with the quartz clock movement inserted, bees in place, and just one fun silk flower.

free pyrography clock pattern

Hope you have fun creating your own pyrography clock!  Thanks for stopping by my blob ~ Lora

First Pyrography Project – Celtic Knot Bird 1

Worked as if it were an 1800’s American stamp, this Rooster Celtic Knot pattern
will let us explore the basic steps used in most pyrography projects –

Outlining, Mapping, Backgrounds and Voids, Texture, Strengthening, and Detailing

Please click on the pattern, below, for a full-sized printable pyrography pattern.


The pattern for this Rooster Celtic Knot is worked on a live-edge, basswood, 3/4” thick plaque that needs to be 9” x 12” or larger.

As shown in the Tracing Steps, I have allowed the extra room on the plaque to fall at the bottom of the wood, which will give me a space to add decorative cup hooks when the burn is complete.

Basswood is easy to obtain at most large craft stores. Although classified as a hardwood, this pure white, fine grain wood performs as a softwood, accepting very pale tonal values and extremely fine detail. At high temperatures and solid fills you can achieve solid black areas in your work.

The postage idea is a very forgiving subject for new pyrographers as the early 1800’s stamps, on which this is based, often were printed on coarse paper with somewhat ragged printed colors that could bleed into surrounding areas.

If your shading is a little uneven or your detail lines a little wobbly as you learn to control the wood, temperature setting, pen tip, and stroke, it will just add to the impression of an old collectable stamp.

So, relax and have fun!

1. Sand the surface of the wood to create as smooth a burning surface as possible.
Trace the pattern to the wood using a graphite pencil rub on the back of the pattern.



2. Use the ball-tip pen on a low temperature setting of 4 to 5 for a very pale tonal value. Outline the tracing lines of the pattern. This light burning is to permanently set the pattern line so that your hand and work does not accidentally wipe away the graphite lines. This first outlining is not meant to be seen once the burning is complete, it is a guideline for you in your work.

Not all pattern tracings need to be outlined nor is it appropriate to do it for every burning theme. Obviously, clouds in a landscape scene do not have outlines nor do petals and leaves in a floral design. But as a beginner using a very pale outline step makes your first projects easier as you can’t lose the pattern as you work.



3. When you have completed the pale value outlining clean your entire piece of wood with an artist’s eraser, gum eraser, or architect’s eraser pad to remove any graphite left from the tracing steps.

Your hot tipped pen can permanently set those small graphite smudges or pattern lines into the work as you begin the burning. The outlining step just done (step 1) allows you to remove all that dirt before you begin your art.


4. After cleaning the wood, remove the eraser dust with a dry, clean cloth.



5. Mapping let’s you determine where you want your shading and shadows early in the work. Use the loop tip pen and a low temperature setting of 4 to 5, working the scrubbie stroke. Work a pale tonal value burn to those elements that lie underneath other elements. The tail feature beginning burned in the photo come from under the bird’s body. Next it tucks under the frame for the 3-cent area. Both of these areas are shaded. Where this same tail feather rolls forward and over the 3-cent frame it becomes the highlighted area that receives light, so you will be shading the frame as the underneath element.

These areas of pale value will be strengthened as you do further work on your art. This step let’s you think through where your shading will fall before you burn an area so dark that it can not be removed or altered.



6. Use the loop tip tool on a medium-hot setting of 5 to 7, using a tight scrubbie stroke. Fill in the void behind the rooster that is inside the curved, top frame area.

Decide how you want to treat the background area of your pattern. Is that background part of the theme as mountains and sky behind a barn, or is it a void area – an area without design, pattern, or even importance to the work?

There are several options on how you treat your background and void spaces.
A. Leave the area un-burned, un-worked, and in the raw wood coloration.
This choice, in essence, ignores these areas totally as shown in the
second stamp project we will be doing tomorrow.

B. You can blacken the background with a solid, high temperature fill stroke.
This also, in essence, ignores the area as part of the pattern but can push
the pale and mid-tone value work of your design forward visually.

C. You can chose to use a static texture, repeat texture, or dot pattern as is worked in pointillism,
worked in a mid-range tone that contrasts to the main pattern elements.

Step 6 uses option B by blackening the background to the rooster to a dark-medium tonal value.



7. Large solid fill areas do not need to be absolutely even in tonal value work. Allow some areas to develop a slightly darker tone or paler tone than other areas to add a little extra interest to the overall area. In our sample I am darkening the background around the rooster’s head fathers and along the left side of the area where it touches the frame.   This is meant to be a work of art, so remember perfection can be boring.



8. Use cross hatching , worked with the spear shader, set of a medium-hot setting of 5 to 7 for the US frame background. By working the background of this lettered area with a defined texture of overlapping, crossing lines I can identify the area as a separate piece or element from the surrounding elements. The cross hatched US frame is an independent subject from the solid fill rooster area of the stamp.



9 There is a large void area that surrounds the outer scroll work of the stamp design. Use a medium-hot temperature setting of 5 to 7, and your loop tip pen to work an open dot pattern in this area.



10 At this point in the burning that most of the tonal values remain on the paler side of the sepia scale. You can always darken an area later as needed. You can’t easily lighten an area that you initially worked into a dark tone.



11 Widen your tonal value range by establishing several areas of solid fill black. Use your loop tool on a hot temperature setting of 8 to 10. Fill the areas with a tight scrubbie stroke. For our project these areas are the background to the 3 cent frame and the area above the top scroll design.



12 At this point you have clearly created areas of un-burned pure white to solid fill black. Its time to strengthen your shadows and shading to fill in the mid-tone values. Working over the mapping areas worked in step 5 add more mid-tone shading to intensify your design.
Note this shading still follows the simplest shadowing step of darkening an element that is underneath another element. The closer that area is to the under tuck the darker its tonal value. As you move away from the under tuck area the shading will move to paler values. Use the tool pen that you originally used for each area.



13 The final step in the burning of this Rooster Celtic Knot stamp pattern is to work the detailing of the design. The tonal value work that you have already done should have covered most of the outlining done in step 2. By detailing the pattern you establish crisp separation lines between elements, divide areas of similar tonal value, and give emphasis to particular parts of the pattern.

Don’t completely outline your original tracing lines. Instead work fine lines where one area needs more definition. Allow breaks in your detailing and allow changes in your tonal value so that some lines will be mid-tone while others near the black range.

For major line work, as the top of the 3 cent frame where the rooster feathers intersect, I use the ball tip pen on a hot setting of 8 to 10. The ball tip tool also is used to add the spaced dot pattern along the outer edge of the stamp pattern. For very fine, very dark, short lines as seen in the rooster’s feather work, use your spear shader on its edge in a touch and lift motion.

14 Clean your project with your white artist eraser or architect’s eraser pad to remove any hand dirt or oil. Remove the eraser dust with a clean, dry cloth. Seal the wood with several light coats of acrylic or polyurethane spray sealer.



1 Definition of Pyrography – posted Nov. 17, 2020
2 Safety
3 Basic Tool Kit
4 Wood Burning Systems – posted Nov. 17th, 2020
5 One-Temperature
6 Rheostat Tools
7 Variable Temperature Tools
8 Wood Burning Pen – posted Nov. 18, 2020
9 Hand Grip Positions – posted Nov. 18th, 2020
10 Loop Tip Pen – posted Nov. 18th, 2020
11 Ball Tip Pen
12 Spear Shader
13 Spoon Shader Pen
14 Practice Board – Nov. 19th, 2020
15 Wood Burning Media – Nov. 22nd, 2020
16 General Kit Supplies – Nov. 22nd, 2020
17 Cleaning Your Tips – Nov 22nd, 2020
18 Grain Direction – Nov. 24, 2020
19 Sanding the Wood Blank
20 Transferring the Pattern – Nov. 24, 2020
21 Graphite on an Irregular Shape

22 Pencil Graphite Rubbing
23 Pattern Re-Alignment Marks
24 Tonal Values- Working the Celtic Blue Bird Pattern
27 Finishing
25 Patina
27 Working a Sepia Value Pattern
28 Rooster Celtic Knot Project – Dec. 7th, 2020

29 Double Dove Celtic Knot Project
30 Bonus Patterns

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