Troubleshooting – Feathers That Look Like Fur

Quality of Line


The lines are too heavy, dark or long. This gives your bird the appearance of having fur instead of feathers.


Using a flat razor blade, gently scrape the surface of your burning to lighten the existing strokes. You don’t need to eliminate them, simply make them less prominent. Then burn over this area with lighter, shorter and more delicate strokes to fill it back in.



The lines are too far apart. Feathers are tightly knit and have little space between them. If your lines are too far apart they will appear to be fur instead of feathers.


Apply another layer of lines on top of the existing one. Make sure this second layer is much lighter than the first so that you do not change the values of your image too much. This will give a greater density to your burning and create the smooth look of feathers.



Too much texture is apparent in the burning. Feathers are a naturally smooth surface so if your burning emphasizes texture instead of smoothness the effect will appear more furry than feathery.


Using your shader, turn your heat to low and gently “iron” out the texture on your bird. By applying gentle shading the texture will be reduced and a smooth finish will be accomplished. Be careful not to eliminate all the detail you have already added. You should not be darkening the surface but merely creating a smoother look. By applying a light shading over the entire area you are lowering the contrast between the existing burned lines and unburned wood, this gives the illusion of smoothness.

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Checklist-Feathers that look like fur

3 Responses

  1. Jim
    | Reply

    As usual all good advice! I am learning light layering is better than heavy handed burning! Keep sending out tips! Enjoy your work!

  2. María Guadalupe Gómez
    | Reply

    Hi Sharon
    I have a problem with the pyrogravures, over time they become darker.
    I have put beeswax, other times varnish, but they are not protected.
    I use to pass a sandpaper and retouch the areas. What is the best protection?

    • Sharon Bechtold
      | Reply

      HI Maria,

      I don’t use any oil or wax based finishes because they do darken over time. I use either a Lacquer finish or a Polyacrylic. The protection is still limited and I would not display your work in bright sunlight.


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