Working the edges and joint of your levels
Thin levels may only need to have rounded over edges to finish the element and allow it to flow into the next lower level element. Using rounded edges and visible joint lines is a technique called low relief.
Deeper levels can be undercut along the joint lines to tuck the joint line beneath itself, hidden from view. We have a detailed tutorial on the blog where you can learn more about the technique of undercutting. Please visit Creating Dramatic Shadows.
Tapered drops take one side of the level and drops it deeper into the wood where it meets a higher level. If the entire level uses tapered drop side then the level becomes convex, an upside down bowl shape. Convex levels give the illusion of being deeper in the wood then they actually measure.
Example of level work and level edges
The Grape Leaf Man was first cut on the band saw eliminate any outer background area from the pattern. The pattern work was marked into five levels with the highest level at the original surface of the wood numbered 1 and the lowest, deepest area of the carving numbered 5.
The three photo samples shown where the original numbering for each level was made, and how those levels work in the carving.
Along the eyebrow ridge the levels changes are created with a slow, gradual move from the high area into the lower areas. At the edges of the nose you can see a simple round over edge and a clearly visible joint line where it touches the cheek. The outer long strands of mustache use a tapered drop to add more depth as it moves below and behind the center mustache area. The edges of the beard are undercut to create a dark shadow along the joint areas between the facial hair and the leaf area.