How to Wood Burn Hair on a Mermaid

How to Wood Burn Hair on a Mermaid


In this video I share with you how to woodburn hair on a mermaid. I will show you how to break down the hair into sections and locks so that it has movement and looks realistic.

The reason this is important is because sometimes the amount of visual information in hair can create confusion and your burning can end up looking flat and lifeless. When you begin to break down the information you are seeing and understand what creates the illusion of softness and movement you will burn realistic looking hair without much effort.


In this video I am using a small pointed skew from Optima and the J skew from Colwood.


Transcript of Video…

Hi this is Sharon and here’s a sampler from my Burning Academy. Enjoy!

In this video I am going to share with you how to woodburn hair on a mermaid. In order to burn realistic looking hair you will want to section off the locks. One of the reasons hair can sometimes look fake or forced is because it lacks movement and shine. Most hair will reflect light as it moves, if you don’t identify this movement you won’t know where to place your lights and darks. Sectioning each tress will allow you to chunk down the locks so you can easily identify the light and dark sections.

These sections are not hard fast rules, allow them to flow, have fun with them. Unless you are doing a portrait or have a particular hairstyle in mind, the individual chunks are relatively arbitrary, though they should be logical in their direction.

Once you have these sections identified begin filling in the individual hairs. This is done by beginning at the dark sections or origins of each lock (the dark area) – then fading out at the belly of the lock (or the light area). This will give the illusion of movement as the hair moves in and out of the light.

As you see, I don’t continue pulling the lines to the end but rather allow them to fade in the belly area. I also vary the length. If you do them all the same length it will break the illusion and won’t look natural anymore. So vary the length. The best way to do this is to simply relax and enjoy the rhythmic movement. Slow down so that you have good control and are not rushing. This gives you the luxury of speeding up and slowing down at will without over burning.

You will notice that at times I will pull a strand or two down to the bottom of the lock. This will help me keep track of my direction. It is not necessary and should not be overdone. I will still connect the strand by pulling from the bottom and connecting.

Once I have finished one side I will then do the same in the other direction – again meeting in the middle. Be careful at this point to create the illusion that the hairs are one strand and not broken. You do this by maintaining the direction of the line. It doesn’t have to connect physically but must appear to connect visually.

At times the lock will wave up and down and in and out of the light. This is accomplished in the same manner but you will need to be careful not to show any visual breaks in the lock. The values should go from dark in the origin area to light as the lock curls forward to dark as it curls in to light again as it curls back out and into the shadows. I can’t stress enough how important it is to use a low heat throughout this process to maintain control.

I often prefer to use a fully rounded skew as it will allow me to burn in either direction without any point to catch on the fibers of the wood.

I will then go over the hairs again with a low heat and fill in and refine each lock.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little lesson for more information on pyrography and learning to burn be sure to sign up for my free burning video series at

7 Responses

    | Reply

    Thanks Sharon! I love watching your videos and really appreciate your talent and that you are willing to share what you do. Thanks so much!

    • Sharon Bechtold
      | Reply

      You are welcome.

  2. Brian Bingle
    | Reply

    Hi Saron

    You are a master of your art!! I wish I was on your level!! I admire your art work and it is an inspiration for me.

  3. Penelope V. Rembold
    | Reply

    Hi, Sharon,
    This is another one of your excellent , informative videos!! I enjoyed it a lot!! Thank you , you are an excellent teacher !!

    • Sharon Bechtold
      | Reply

      Glad it helps!

  4. Gordon Brumagin
    | Reply

    Enjoyed your video about clouds.

    • Sharon Bechtold
      | Reply

      Thank you.

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