Where are you going? Where have you been? When all is said and done, did you follow your dreams?
My father passed away suddenly last week and as I reflect on the impermanence of life, I gather up my ideas, past experiences and desires and pack them securely. My father was a talented landscape and seascape painter and taught me much. In fact one of the things we had worked on was the anatomy and construction of waves and how to render them. He had his own way of painting them and I translated that into my burnings. I share this in memory of him and what he taught me.
And so in this article I am ready to set sail on the winds of change. What are you dreaming about accomplishing in life? Which techniques would you like to master?
This article will cover many of the basics and some new techniques for water and sky. So grab your tools, find a similar design and let’s set sail.
Outline the body of the ship. I am using a bent wire skew (Colwood) to give me a nice bold line while allowing me to control curves. The rounded wire surface of this pen allows it to glide on the surface of the wood instead of getting stuck in grain. This gives me more control of my burns. Turn down the heat and outline the sails. I use a lower heat here because the sails are going to be a lighter color than the rest of the ship and details. If the outline is too dark it will look like a cartoon. I am hoping for realism with this image. In order to burn larger curves I roll the pen between my fingers as shown while following the line.
Do not outline the water or waves at this time, only the ship.
Begin shading the sails on the ship with your shader on low heat. This step is time consuming since you will have to use VERY slow and very light strokes to achieve a delicate value. Your pen should glide on the surface, no pressure should be applied during this step. Be sure to start your stroke in the darkest area and pull out, fading into the lightest area. Your pen will be hottest when you land, so take advantage of this. As you move, the pen will naturally lose heat and so create a natural blend.
Define the different sails with a soft shadow to separate the shapes. Keep this subtle so it doesn’t detract from the light color of the sails.
Turn up the heat on the pen and begin shading in the body of the ship. This area will be much darker, however you need to still use the same technique as the sails in order to achieve a smooth blend. Turn your board around if necessary to make the process easier on your hand and maintain maximum control. Stop before you reach the waves. Don’t outline the waves!
To begin burning the waves turn up the heat on your pen and begin your stroke beneath the foam pulling out in a curved manner as shown. Make sure you begin inside the wave so the darkest part of your burn occurs there then fades.
Continue using this techniques to define the darkest areas of the waves and pull out. These slow strokes when done properly will give you a natural looking blend with minimal effort.
Refer to your reference and identify the darker areas of the waves. Repeat the above process identifying darker areas and blending out. Be sure and leave unburned areas as shown!
Reduce the movement, size, and darkness of your burn as you move beyond the ship.
The distant horizon will consist of straight lines. Be sure to begin at the edge of your board and blend inward so that the burn fades where the setting sun reflects on the water.
At this time turn down your heat and begin adding light shadows to the foam. You can also add a bit of definition where the foam overlaps the ship.
Outline the sun, this time with your shader to create a clean border. I use a spoon shader for this technique since I don’t want any sharp edges in contact with my wood. I follow the grain of the wood and slowly pull the spoon shader layer by layer to fill in the sky.
With the spoon shader on low heat begin to lightly burn over some of the whites in your waves. This will soften the contrast on the water which can easily overtake the ship in detail.
Go back over your image punching in darks and balancing out values until you are satisfied.
It is my hopethat you have enjoyed this little project and learned a few techniques that will help you as you set sail in woodburning. This pattern is available for purchase on my website.
If you have enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about pyrography I invite you to sign up for my FREE Burning Basics Video Series.