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Levels in Relief

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  • Levels in Relief

    I got PMed about how to establish or determine the levels in a relief carving pattern. So it was an excellent excuse to enjoy the day at the drawing board and now come haunt the board ... the first image here is the complete detailed pattern.

    I start by talking - thinking - through a pattern or design, telling myself what I see which names the elements in the pattern. For this pattern it is a barn, oak trees, split rail fence, road bed, pine trees and mountains.

    Next I talk - think - through where each element lies in relationship to the surrounding elements. I have a stone wall log roof barn set in a wooded scene with one tree to the right front of the barn, one section of a split rail fence in front and next to the barn wall edge, one tree to the left of the barn behind the split rail fence. Behind these elements there is a road bed that leads off center to the lower mid-point of the pattern. On either side of the road are groupings of pine trees. Behind the pine trees are three rounded mountains.

    So right away I have established what I am going to carve and where each piece is in relationship to everything else in the design.

    An element is an object in the pattern as a tree, a grassy bank, a barn.
    A level is a grouping of elements that lie in the same plane or depth within a pattern.

    This free online tutorial is brought to you by ArtDesignsStudio.com


    Susan

  • #2
    Re: Levels in Relief

    image 1a - what is the focus element

    To begin establishing the levels I now decide what is the most important element in the design. For this pattern it is the barn structure. As you look at the pattern you see that the oak trees frame the barn, the split rail fence is attached to the barn and the road bed leads away from the barn.

    image 2a - elements on same plane or level

    My next question is what other elements seem to be on the same plane or level as the main focus element (barn). I am looking for things that are neither in front or behind my focus point. The oak tree to the left is behind the split rail fence just as the barn is. So the left oak tree and the barn share the same level.

    Because there are elements in front of the barn and left oak tree as well as elements behind these, this area lies in the middle of the design. It will become my middle level.

    susan

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    • #3
      Re: Levels in Relief

      image 2b - elements in front of focus

      I'm sorry I lost this one while working out the patterns. The foreground shows better in the next set of images ... I tried to make the images as large as possible so that they will print around 10" wide by 8" high for you to use.

      Since the middle ground has been found I now need to ask what lies in front of the barn level. For this design it is the right side oak tree, the split rail fence and the grass area. These unite (that's not untie ??? right?) to become my foreground.

      Susan

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      • #4
        Re: Levels in Relief

        image 3a - very deepest area of pattern

        I usually move to the very deepest areas of the pattern next. It is just my habit as sometimes it is easier for me to find the background level by eliminating the sky level elements. The sky and mountains are extremely far away from the barn and lie behind all other elements. So these become my sky or deepest level of the carving.

        Everything that is left un-worked, in this case the road bed and pine trees, becomes my background elements. In this image the gray areas are the sky level and the white areas become the background level.

        If I am working on a thin piece of basswood, 1" (4 quarter or less) thickness, I will stop dividing the pattern at this point. I have three levels with a foreground shown in pale blue, a middle ground shown in medium blue and a background shown in white. Behind these three levels is my sky level.

        Susan

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        • #5
          Re: Levels in Relief

          image 4b - dividing the background into two levels

          If I am working on a thicker piece of wood, 5 quarters or more, I can divide the background area again. Notice how the road bed divides the two sets of pine tree. It is a natural area for a level division. I chose the far side of the road for my line but the near side could have also been used. With this division I have four carving levels with a sky level in the deepest area.

          Susan

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          • #6
            Re: Levels in Relief

            image 5a - four level pattern with deep back (shown above)

            For my style of carving (others may do very different styles) my sky areas are often not much more than light round overs. Just enough carving to imply deep level tree lines, mountains, clouds and sun.

            Ok ... I know what is coming next ... How deep is each level? I can't tell you because I don't know how thick YOUR wood is. I work on the half and half principle. All of my levels - foreground, middle ground and in this case two background levels - are worked in the top half of the wood. This leaves the back half for the deepest sky level and for support against cupping and warping that can occur in relief carving.

            I will split that top half into slices twice the number of levels ... HUH? (Susan, old gal, even I didn't follow that one) ... I have four levels so I multiply that by two giving me eight slices to play with in establishing the depth of each area. I want more thickness in the focus level (barn) than I do anywhere else in the carving. I need less thickness in the background areas because they are far away and so would not appear as deep.

            So, what I would do is give the middle (barn) level 4 slices because this is where most of my carving work and detailing will fall, the two background levels on slice each (we are up to six out of eight), so that leaves two slices for the foreground! Again, depending on the thickness of your board a slice can be anywhere from 1/16" to 1/2" thick ...

            Susan

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            • #7
              Re: Levels in Relief

              OK, first Happy Saint Patty's Day, a major holiday around our house

              And second, I want to extend an open invitation to everyone that does relief carving or uses levels in their carvings to pitch in and add your ideas, thoughts and techniques here! This posting is just my way so it gives you only one way of thinking ... you might have a suggestion that is exactly what someone else might need.

              And third, as I had all of the level work mapped out for this posting I went ahead and also made it into a layerscape pattern for scroll sawing. I'm off to post that pattern to our sister site Scroll Saw Message Board. You can slip over there and snitch a copy of that interruption.

              Again HAPPY ST. PATTY'S DAY and may all your beer be green and your chips be crisp and may your last name begin with an O' or Mac for one fun day.

              Susan

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              • #8
                Re: Levels in Relief

                Here's the link to the scroll saw message board patterns for the layerscape.

                Susan

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Levels in Relief

                  Thanks for that discourse, Susan! It was interesting to watch you talk (think) to yourself as the process evolved. A lot of insight into the development of the project from the sketch stage on through seeing clearly the depth and perspectives.

                  Al

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Levels in Relief

                    Susan, I can't thank you enought for posting this and all the info. I'm Polish, but for this I'll be Irish. This is certainly going to be a big help to me. Happy St. Patties day. feb

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                    • #11
                      Re: Levels in Relief

                      Susan- Thanks for the great step by step. I think the only thing I will add if you don't mind. Don't take your levels all the way at first leave some room for mistakes I know I make them. When you think you are not looking the way you want. Stop and close your eyes and let your fingers do the walking in this case the looking I know I always say this but I really think that if a person tries it they will see a difference in how they see it.

                      By the way I am working on the mill scene I haven't had allot of time this week good ole taxes. I will try and post some pictures this weekend.

                      Have a great St Patricks Day ( I am Dutch Irish) and was born on St Patty's Day.
                      Ron

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                      • #12
                        Re: Levels in Relief

                        Susan...

                        Thank you very much for the tutorial. I'm just starting one of your woodspirits labeled with levels 1-5 and your explanation has cleared up some questions that I had.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Levels in Relief

                          Originally posted by Ron Davidson
                          Susan- Thanks for the great step by step. I think the only thing I will add if you don't mind. Don't take your levels all the way at first leave some room for mistakes I know I make them. When you think you are not looking the way you want. Stop and close your eyes and let your fingers do the walking in this case the looking I know I always say this but I really think that if a person tries it they will see a difference in how they see it.

                          By the way I am working on the mill scene I haven't had allot of time this week good ole taxes. I will try and post some pictures this weekend.

                          Have a great St Patricks Day ( I am Dutch Irish) and was born on St Patty's Day.
                          Ron
                          Ron, these are two very excellent and important points to have added to the talk. Thank you!

                          Yes, leaving each level proud early in the work is very important. You can always take more off but putting some back is a touch tricky.

                          And, yes, let you fingers do the walking. If the readers take anything away from this talk that is the number one idea to add to their techniques. So often your fingers can discover what your eyes can not see.

                          Thanks for the additions!

                          Susan

                          (As for being Polish or Dutch ... I thought everyone was Irish on St. Patty's Day?!? Haven't you met a McWymer or O'Knutti on the 17th of March?)

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                          • #14
                            Re: Levels in Relief

                            Even O'Bamma's turning up some Irish roots!

                            Al

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                            • #15
                              Re: Levels in Relief

                              AL!

                              Quit that Stuff!!!!

                              You have me laughing far too hard to get anything accomplished this morning ... Fall off my Chair.

                              Susan

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