How to Woodburn Realistic Rocks

How to Woodburn Realistic Rocks

In this video I will be sharing with you some techniques on how to woodburn realistic rocks. I am using a Colwood Shader SRS pen with a Colwood Galaxy unit in this demonstration. Any similar pen that produces shading can be used with these techniques.

Getting Started

Woodburning realistic rocks starts with a good clear pattern that allows you to see the overall shape and the contours of the surface.

Your first consideration will be to determine a light source. Knowing where the light is coming from will help you to understand where your shadows need to be burned.

For this pyrography project I am placing the light source in the upper left and so the shadows will be cast opposite of this angle (to the right). I also take some time to identify my major shapes. I want to do this first so that I have a simple place to begin. There are quite a few cracks and crevices in this rock and that can be overwhelming. By identifying just a few to begin with I simplify my approach and make the woodburning process easier.

Starting the project

Test your woodburning tool heat to be sure it is where you want it.

With my shader on medium heat I begin to lay in the shading in the darkest areas. I don’t use a lot of pressure. Make sure you slow down to let the heat do the work.

I maneuver my shader so that I visually communicate the jagged course surface of the rock. Be sure to follow the contour of the shape you are burning. Angle your pen if necessary burning in various directions as the planes and surfaces of the rock change. This will give your woodburning a realistic textural look.

Continue defining the darker shadowed areas. You can burn over previous sections to darken them further but for now concentrate on developing the preliminary form.

Now you can begin refining the middle tones and adding detail. Take your time and develop each area. Focus on the section you are working on and don’t try to do it all at once.

I want to add in a little crevice here to show you how to create a cave like opening. A problem many artists fall into is thinking that an opening like this is all solid black. It isn’t. Even though it is dark, light will still reflect dimly inside. In order to create the appearance of  a receding crevice alter the darkness of your burns and move your pen around to visually communicate that there is something inside the opening.

In the lighter areas simply rub lightly to create a textured burn in areas that are not in shadow.

In completing the woodburning I “ground” the image by setting it down. Toward the bottom I woodburn various layers to create a natural appearance. I stay away from creating a straight line at the base.

Taking your burning to the next level

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

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