free pyrography project by Lora Irish

Coloring Wood Burnings with Colored Pencils

Join Lora Irish in this free online pyrography project featuring a steam punk patterns, worked on a 7″ heart-shaped plaque, and that uses watercolor pencils.  Learn how to do simple wood burning shading, add fine line detailing, and how to work a texture stroke background using a variable temperature wood burning unit and ball-tip burning pen.

This quick, fun project will make a wonderful bedroom door decoration, a simple wall hanging, and can even be attached to the front cover of your favorite home photos scrap book.

free pyrography project by Lora IrishSupplies:

Burning Supplies:
Variable temperature burning unit
ball tip or looped tip pen
7” x 7” poplar pre-cut heart

Pyrography Pen Cleaning Supplies:
leather strop
rouging compound
1500 grit emery cloth

free pyrography pattern by Lora IrishGeneral Supplies:
220- or 320- grit sandpaper
clean, dry dusting cloth
graphite paper
#2 to #4 soft pencil
masking or painter’s tape
8” square of brown paper bag

Finishing Supplies:
watercolor colored pencils
spray polyurethane or acrylic sealer

For more Steam Punk and Trendy patterns visit Art Designs Studio.

 Preparing the wood

Step 1  Lightly sand your heart board using 320-grit sandpaper.  Work the sanding strokes with the grain of the wood to avoid creating thin, fine, swirl lines.  Wipe the board with a dry. clean cloth to remove all of the sanding dust.

Step 2  Print a copy of the free pattern.  Center the pattern over your heart and tape to the board in one or two places.  Slide a sheet of graphite tracing paper under the pattern, with the darker, glossy side down.  Using light pressure and an ink pen, trace along the pattern lines.  Check that you have copied all of the pattern lines before you remove the pattern and graphite paper from the board.

 Working the Pyrography Shading

Before you begin any pyrography session, check your pen tips and clean if necessary.  A dirty, carbon-coated tip will leave dark streaks in the burn strokes that can only be removed using sandpaper or a craft knife.  Also check your work areas.  It should be free on any loose paper, pens, and scissors.  A clean work space gives your hand room to move as you work through the burning.

There are a variety of wood burning strokes and textures that you can use to create the shading of each element in this pattern.  I used a tight scrubbie stroke, but you can also work this pattern using tightly packed dots, cross hatching, and random doodles.

free Lora Irish pyrography projectStep 1  Set your variable temperature wood burning unit on a low-medium setting to create a light mid-tonal value sepia burn.  Chose a detailing or writing tip for your pen, either a looped writing tip or ball-tip.   Begin the shading on the metal pipes and center circle to establish where your shadows will fall.  For both of these elements the darkest shading is along the two outer edges, that shading gradually lightens into the pale tones at the center line of the pipes.

Continue mapping your shading in the electrical wires, again shading the darkest along the outer edges.  The knot in the electric cord and the background pipe on the left are, at this point, the darkest areas of the work.

free Lora Irish pyrography projectStep 2  The early mapping stage, using a mid-tone value heat setting, is next worked in the larger elements of this steam punk pattern.  This includes the large metal plate in the upper background, the gear to the left, and the large plate to the far right.  The darkest areas of shading for these flat elements falls directly behind any element in its foreground.  Notice in the large plate on the far right that the darkest area is at the top which is behind the electric wires.


free pyrography projects by Lora IrishStep 3  Turn your temperature setting up to a pale-dark tone setting.  Using either fine line strokes or a tightly packed dot pattern fill in the chocolate black shadows that fall on the edges of the flat metal pieces and gear.

Work the chocolate black shadows into the edges of the holes found inside of your metal works.  Add the dial face to the gauge.


 free wood burning project by Lora IrishStep 4  With the shading worked take time to strengthen any area of the shadows that can be a little darker or stronger.  If an area can not be easily distinguished from another, darken the background element one or two tonal values.

Note the electrical connector that is above and to the left side of the gauge.  This area has several elements within a small area.  Each element becomes stronger, more visually separated, not only by the shading in the element but also because of the added shading in the areas behind it.

free pyrography project by Lora IrishStep 5  The final pyrography steps to this wood burning is to add the fine detailing, using a medium-hot setting and your ball-tip pen.  Also add whatever personalization you have chosen for the center of the circle.  Consider using initials, a special number, a date, or even a favorite logo that will make this project special.

Adding Color using Colored Pencils

Step 1  You can use several paint and coloring medias to add color to your wood burning.  In this project we will use watercolor pencils and colored pencils, but you can also use watercolor paints, oil paints, and fabric dyes.  All of these types of coloring agents are transparent colors that allow the sepia shading of your pyrography to clearly show through the colors.

Begin by cleaning your wood burning using a white artist’s eraser.  Avoid colored erasers as they can inadvertently leave colored dye streaks on your board.  Wipe the burning well with a clean, dry cloth to remove the dust.

Step 2  There are two grades of colored pencils – student and hobby grade and artist grade.  Student grade pencils that are available at the drug store or through office supply stores use clay as the pencil base.  This grade of pencil has a hard tip and when used in layers can become opaque.  Artist quality colored pencils use a wax-based pencil core.  You can work multiple layers of color, and lay different colors over already worked colors to create new hues without losing the transparency that allows your wood burning to show.

Watercolor pencils work as a drawing pencil but can be moved, and spread using a damp, soft bristle brush, just like watercolors.  My choice of watercolor pencils are Derwent Watercolour.  Artist quality wax-based pencils create bright, vivid color hues that do not move on your wood, I use Sanford PrismaColor for my set.  A basic color set of twelve will provide you will all the colors that you need to mix a large selection of color hues.

free wood buring project by Lora IrishStep 3  As you work keep your pencil tips sharp.  Sharp points allow you to work the pencil lines into the grain of the wood.  Use very light pressure and build your colors up in thin layers.  For this steam punk layout I chose to use pure color hues – bright green, orange, bright yellow, medium blue, cherry red, and a rust tone of brown.  The photo on the right shows the coloring after several light coats of work.

Note the color of the ball valve, just below the right-hand gauge, this area has one coat of medium blue.  The center circle has one coat of bright green in the lower left-side, behind the glass electrical tube.  As I worked closer to the upper right side of the circle I added several more layers of bright green.

free pyrography project by Lora IrishStep 4  You can add layer after layer of colored pencils to bring your work to a bright, bold, and vivid coloring.  In the photo you can see that artist quality pencils do not cover the pyrography shading – it enhances the shading.  Finish your project by applying two to three light coats of acrylic or polyurethane gloss spray sealer, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly.

Your project is ready to hang!



Lora Irish’s newest book release is available at Art Designs Studio.Styles of Pyrography by Irish

Art Styles of Pyrography E-Book by L. S. Irish
Exclusive Lora S Irish Book, Art Styles of Pyrography,
190 pages, 15 projects, Ready for Download
Begin your pyrography craft today!


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