How to Burn Simple Clouds

How to Burn Simple Clouds

Burning clouds is a commitment.

However, sometimes the hint of clouds is all your artwork needs. In these instances I use a simple method to suggest light puffy clouds in a clear sky.

It is a simple process and can be pulled off effectively if you are light and delicate with your shading. In my Pirate Ship Project (available for purchase on my webstore in mid July) I use this technique to fill in empty space behind the ship.

In this article I will share with you the simple steps to create this style of clouds in your burnings. This is important because you will not always want to burn an entire sky, an simply outlining clouds and plastering them all over not only looks amateur, but can ruin your entire burning.

So here is one approach to creating some simple clouds without having to obsess too much or work too hard.

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Draw in cloud tops as shown. You can create a master pattern (like this image) and transfer it to your wood, or lightly pencil them directly on your wood. Make sure they are only the tops and not any bottoms. The minute you add bottoms you commit yourself to burning a whole lot more.

As you draw in your clouds keep them slanted to one side or another just like the sample image. This will create a more realistic illusion as we use this little trick. If the clouds are not slightly slanted and are instead puffy, you again commit yourself to more burning than necessary. If at all possible copy what I have on the Pirate Ship project and simply adjust them to your design.

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Turn your heat down low and use a shader to create the cloud shape. Now gently pull the burn from the outer edge of the clouds as shown. Begin your burn at the edge and pull horizontally out toward the sky allowing the burn to fade naturally.

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Blend these fades by continuing to pull horizontally until the burn fades. You may wish to slowly speed up your stroke to create the fade.

NOTE: Remember that you are burning the sky and not the cloud itself.

Also notice that the clouds are staggered and do not actually connect. This is what supports the illusion. I also shade both on the left and right depending on which side of the ship I am burning. This gives the final image a finished look without ruining the illusion.

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In this article I have shared with you how to quickly and easily add clouds to any burning. The only caveat is that the clouds must be simple, cannot connect, and need to be slanted. When using this technique remember that β€˜less is more’. Keep it simple and you will be amazed at the subtle beauty of the final burned sky.

If you have enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about Pyrography be sure to sign up for my FREE Burning Basics Video series.

17 Responses

  1. Bill Splaine
    | Reply

    Hi Sharon.. I just watched your tut on simple clouds. I wanted to tell you that you are awesome. You are the ONLY instructor I have found that shares freely many techniques. I know you sell info as well and I have probably bought everything in your store including two master classes.. but.. for an “expert” to share so many tidbits of info is almost unheard of in all of my branches of “art”.. which include woodcarving… I’ll have to share some of what I do sometime. Much of my carvings have some level of burning in them.

    • Sharon Bechtold
      | Reply

      Thanks for the kind words Bill!

  2. kenneth mccormack
    | Reply

    thanks .i am trying to finish a burning and this will help me a lot .love your work

  3. Diane
    | Reply

    This is helpful and amazing! Thanks!

    • Sharon Bechtold
      | Reply

      πŸ™‚

  4. Steve Smith
    | Reply

    Thanks Sharon for sharing this tips with me i save all you send me to fall back you are awesome.

    • Sharon Bechtold
      | Reply

      Wonderful!!!

  5. Janice S
    | Reply

    Thanks for sharing the simplicity of burning clouds. It adds that special finish when burning outdoor scenes.

    • Sharon Bechtold
      | Reply

      Glad it helped!

  6. Marcia Smith
    | Reply

    Thanks for all of your little tips. It is like have a friend to share things with!

    • Sharon Bechtold
      | Reply

      Yes it is!!!

  7. Lisa
    | Reply

    Beautiful work and how simple to do are those clouds.

    Thanks Sharon

    • Sharon Bechtold
      | Reply

      glad it helps!

  8. Robert Gentile
    | Reply

    Sharon I have to say I’ve been around a lot of years so I am an authority on good talented people and the ones who really matter. You’re at the top. Your tips and pointers are second to none. When you explain about shading it’s very clear and you use words we can all understand. I’ve always been a copy and past person. My drawing needs words so we all know what i was trying to draw. Between shading and the way the light shows on an object simple as it might be for some it’s challenging to us copy and paste people. I will find a place to add clouds to my wood projects in the future. Thank you very much.

    • Sharon Bechtold
      | Reply

      Glad it helps! Drawing is really not that challenging when you understand the underlying concepts. I’m hoping some day to create some videos to teach drawing too.

      Sharon

  9. Sandy
    | Reply

    This was GREAT help! As the others mentioned, you make it simple and understandable (I will see how simple when I put it into action!). Thanks for your free instruction. I just bought two of your books and the one on Eyes is SO beautifully done and understandable. (I haven’t had a chance to delve into the ships book yet – I just had them bound at Staples.) AND I have the grandsons here so no time to work on your instruction.

  10. Cathy Sibley
    | Reply

    Thank you!! I am fairly new to this craft and I really love doing old barn scenes. I always question what to do with the sky and this will really bring my scenery to life!

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