Dividing the Carving Area into Levels
All of the layers or levels that you can established in your pattern work will fall into the one-half thickness in the wood. You can now divide that thickness measurement to create the depth of each layer of work. Please visit Working with Levels for more about how to break a pattern down into easy background, mid-ground, and foreground areas.
The background elements of the design are carved into the lowest level at the one-half point. All of the wood above that point then becomes the mid-ground and foreground levels. A carving can have any number of levels, however it is easiest to work with a minimal number of levels during the rouge out carving stage then break each level into layers for further detailing.
In our sample I have divided the carving into five levels. To determine the rouge measurement I divide one-half the thickness of the wood by one less than the number of levels I will be working, this is ‘one less’ because I already have established the background at the one-half point. In the diagraom you can see the four step, one for each level, and the background point.
Example: For a 2″ thick board the halfway point is at 1″. The pattern has been divided into a five level design. 1″ / 5-1 = 1/4″ per level.
Not all levels are created equal
Levels in a design do not necessarily need an equal amount of wood as all of the others. Background levels, since they are the farthest away from you only need a small amount of wood. Mid-ground levels are often the busiest part of the carving, they have the most elements in them and therefore may need extra wood. Foregrounds can vary widely depending on what elements they contain. In a landscape carving as the barn on page one of this tutorial holds two extra large trees. To accommodate the size of the tree trunks those areas where allowed as much wood as two levels of work in the rest of the design. The foreground leaves to those trees were worked very shallow to allow more space for the mid-ground leaf clusters.
Example: In the 2″ thick board with five levels, the background level is worked at the one-half point, the mid-background may need 1/8″ of wood, the far mid-ground level may use 1/4″ wood, the front mid-ground level would lie at 3/8″ of wood, with the foreground level lying at 1/4″. This moves 1/8″ of wood from the mid-background into the front mid-ground area giving these elements more wood.
Any carving in a level will fall below any carving in a higher level
After each level has been rouge cut to your predetermined depth you can retrace your design lines on the shelf of each level. You can see in the diagram how deep each element in each level will eventually be worked by following the green tracing line.
Working in levels guarantees that each element will fall at its proper depth
By rouge cutting each level area as a whole then working the elements in those levels you are guaranteed that each individual element will fall correctly in relationship to the other elements in the design.