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Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

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  • Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

    I've moved several posts that discuss the theory behind how to woodburn from this thread to this thread.

    Many new members were having a difficult time finding the start of the actual tutorial on burning, so hopefully this will make it easier to navigate the thread.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]

    Bob Duncan
    Technical Editor

  • #2
    Re: Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

    My goals in this tutorial are three fold.

    1. I want to work with a simple line pattern and show how easy it is to determine where your shadows and shading go.

    2. I want to do the burning on birch or mahogany plywood so that it will be easy to frame when finished.

    3. I want to add coloring, either watercolors or colored pencil once the burning is completed.

    Dec. 24, 2009 - The thread to the coloring steps is here:

    So ... Please join in, post any questions along the way, share your own burnings as we work and lets have a little fun.



    • #3
      Re: Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

      Fox Chapel has been kind enough to post full size images of the pattern and drawing that I will be using for this tutorial. You can find them at the link below.

      These images are sized to print on a legal sized (8 1/2" x 14") sheet of printer paper. You can also resize them with a graphics of photo program to print on regular8 1/2" x 11" paper.

      Save copies of each of these patterns on your hard drive. I usually recommend your Desktop so that they will be easy to find as we work through each step.

      There are three images - the line pattern, a simplified line pattern and the drawing. You will need all three.

      Once you have the patterns saved print a copy of the simplified line pattern so that you can work the shadowing steps with me.




      • #4
        Re: Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

        But I am not chosing any of my plywood pieces. I have a wonderful piece of barkwood basswood that I have been saving for something special and I believe this project is the one! It's 16" high with an 8" wide working area of planed wood.

        I think the bark will make a perfect instant frame. So when the burning is done and the coloring added it will be very simple to hang.

        The clean white coloring of the basswood is what I want for this project as I want to work in a wide variety of tonal values and I want to add color. The basswood will accept those very low temp burnings well and add no natural coloring to the colored pencils or watercolors that we will be adding later.

        This particular piece of basswood came from Heinecke Wood Products at Heinecke Wood Products They are great people with which to work!

        OK ... off to prep the board and resize my pattern. Back in a bit.



        • #5
          Re: Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

          Step 1: Surface Preparation

          I have sanded the top surface of my basswood board with several grits - 180, 220, 320 - to remove any saw marks and ridges. A pristine smooth surface means that my burner pen tips will not grab or skip over the small ridges or rough grain lines that you can find in any wood blank.

          I have worked all three sandpaper grits with the grain of the wood. I do not want any cross grain scratches that can be caused by working perpendicular to the grain.

          After the sanding was complete I dusted the wood surface very well and sent my old towel with the saw dust to the washing machine.



          (As I proof this section I am reminded of how many times in my younger days I would work on inferior surfaces ... rough drawing paper instead of rag content cotton watercolor or sketch paper, a canvas board instead of a good stretched linen canvas or a scrap piece of wood from the shop instead of a good wood blank. Then having worked my heart out and created something good I was so disappointed that I had done it on a junk surface.

          I also remember how often I promised myself that I would "do it over" on a quality surface but never did. This does not mean that everything that you do needs to be done on an expensive premanufactured surface. It does mean that you should work on the best that you can and take time to really prepare that board well.

          You NEVER KNOW when the next work will be your Master Piece!)


          • #6
            Re: Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

            Step 2: The pattern, posted in the Free Carving Patterns sections here at Wood Carving Illustrated, is sized to print on a legal sized paper, 8 1/2" x 14". My board measures 16" high, so my pattern is just a touch small for my board.

            I opened the pattern in a graphics program, I use Adobe Photoshop CS3. If you have a photo editing program you can probably resize your pattern with that. I resized the design to 16" then sliced that design into two pieces along the midway point of the pattern. I now can print those two images to create the larger sized pattern.

            If you have questions on how to resize your image please refer to the Help section of your graphics or photo editing program.




            • #7
              Re: Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

              Step 3: I cut out the design then taped the two papers together. I have the design laid on the wood to find where I want to place the pattern.

              Since this pattern has vertical lines in the slates of the bird house I grabbed my T-square ruler to insure that my pattern lines are perfectly vertical. Once I had the pattern positioned I used transparent tape along the top edge of the pattern to secure it to the wood.

              I often will add a few reference pencil marks on the pattern and wood. These are little straight lines that go from the pattern paper onto the wood. If my tape loosens or the pattern paper moves during the tracing process I can easily use those reference lines to readjust the design.

              At this point I can either slide a piece of graphite tracing paper under the design and do my tracing with an ink pen. I prefer a red pen so that I see exactly where I have and have not traced.

              If you do not have graphite paper flip your pattern over so that the back is showing. Use a soft #2 pencil and rub the entire back with the pencil point until you have fully covered the paper with the pencil graphite. Now you can tape the design paper with the pencil rubbing to the wood and trace. The pressure from your ink pen will leave a pencil graphite drawing on your board.

              I can check my progress by lifting the bottom edge of the pattern paper. I do not remove the tape until I am sure that I have traced every line.




              • #8
                Re: Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

                Step 4: That pattern that I have traced is the simplified pattern. At this point in the work I do not need or want all the detail lines in the line art pattern. We will start the burning by working the general areas of the simplified pattern as if they were one unit not multiple grouped pieces.




                • #9
                  Re: Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

                  You've got to try the Optima 1 Dual...You'll love it! Hubby will understand. Just tell him you're worth it and smile.


                  • #10
                    Re: Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

                    Thank you for all that info,hopefully I can put one half of it in practice.

                    WOOD IS WONDERFUL!


                    • #11
                      Re: Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

                      Step 5: Burn layer one

                      Standard writing tip
                      5.5 temp setting

                      I printed a copy of my first shadow drawing image (shadow-7.jpg) and I am going to use it as my guide for my first burn layer. This drawing shows me where the darkest areas of the design should fall.

                      Working with the standard writing tip in a comfortable writing position for my hand I have placed my temperature at a 5.5 setting. That is a cool or pale burn setting for my unit.

                      I want to keep the early burns in the pale tones during this early mapping step. As I work through the project I will slowly bring each individual area up to it's final tonal value.

                      The holly leaves and berries behind the post are worked in a random curling doodle stroke. This will give the leaves a touch of texture. I am filling in the entire leaf and berry area as all of this grouping falls in the shadow area.

                      For the post that supports the bird house I used a tight scrubbie stroke working up and down to keep with what would be the wood grain direction of the post.

                      A simple straight line stroke fills in the two areas on the house that fall behind and under the perch struts.

                      Before I begin shading under the right side roof strut I wanted to pull a pencil guideline. Since the roof strut has a fairly straight edge the shadow it would cast will also have a straight edge. I marked my line about 3/4s of the way down on the house from that roof strut. This is a very light pencil line.

                      That roof strut shadow is now worked with a straight line. Because these lines are long they tend to burn a touch more cool than the short straight lines under the perches. That's OK as this area is one of my largest shadows and the pale tone will create a nice gradually blend to the dark later.



                      (Hey Carveduff and Jax! Thanks for joining in the thread. Duff ... somehow I just don't think I can twist Mike's arm that much, even with a smile. Jax, I really believe that if you try the drawing steps you really will be surprise that you already know more than half of that stuff.)


                      • #12
                        Re: Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

                        Step 5 cont.

                        The hole into the house will eventually be black but for now I am using a tightly packed random doodle to fill it in.

                        I made a few quick notes on my printed drawing that I used for this step.

                        After I am finished this project I can keep these notes with the patterns for my files.

                        Here is the large and close up scans of where we are at in the project. I have even color tones and some nice texture starting.



                        (I hope that you will be understanding as I post throughout the day ... it takes so much more time to stop, take photos, edit them, write the text then get a chance at our computer to post. So I will posting as quickly as possible ... but !?!)


                        • #13
                          Re: Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

                          Step 6: Burn layer two

                          I have printed shadow-8.jpg and will be using it as the guide for this layers burning.

                          I am not changing either my temp setting or my pen tip. This step will be worked at the same 5.5 temperature setting. As we work together you will see how adding layers of burning at the same temperature setting will darken the tonal value on an area.

                          I have stared with the background holly leaves and berries and added a new layer of burning for my first shadow area. Since the leaves naturally curve any shadow that falls on them will also curve. I have worked this shadow in the upper right side half of the leaves.

                          Adding a third layer of burning darkens the area even more. This third shadow is worked on one half of the second shadow and on the upper right side.

                          My holly leaves now have a preliminary three tone graduated shadow. We will be working this area again at a later stage.

                          Laying my practice board with the tonal value grid squares onto my project I can see that I have three distinct tonal values and lots of room to add even darker shadows later.




                          • #14
                            Re: Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

                            Step 6 cont:

                            Just as the holly leaves the acorns behind the post are curved - rounded - shapes. So as I am working the second shading into the upper right hand half of the acorns and caps. I want a curved edge to the bottom line.

                            The third layer of darkest shadow for the acorns again cuts the previous shadowing area in half.

                            The shadow area under the post and perches is done with the straight line stroke pulled half way down from the perch element line. Since the side wall of the house is a flat surface this shadow has a straight edge effect at it's bottom line. Compare that to the shadows on the post with their curved edge. The post is round so the shadow is round.

                            The third layer of shading under the perches and post gives a nice dark area. Notice under the goldfinches feet and rump that the entire trapped air area of the wall has a dark toned shadow.




                            • #15
                              Re: Winter Birdhouse Woodburning Tutorial

                              Step 6 cont:

                              I am pulling the straight line second shadow into the wall under the right hand roof strut. Again, I am working one half of the originally shadowed area. The third burning is bringing out the gradient look to this shadow area.

                              The inside of the hole is done exactly the same. Notice that the bottom edge of this shadow is almost circular to match the hole's shape. The third layer keeps that same semi-circle shape at the bottom.