Wood Burning Drawing Techniques

By Rachel Terry

The ancient Greeks developed pyrography, or wood burning, as a decorative art, and people have enjoyed this art medium ever since. Wood naturally has variations in color, and burning the wood brings out those variations plus darker images just as well as paint or ink. Pyrography pens and multipurpose tools with woodburning attachments are wonderful modern tools that allow you to burn wood in a very controlled, safe manner. Try out some new wood-burning drawing techniques and enjoy creating your own one-of-a-kind projects.

Loose Grip

Using a pyrography pen or multipurpose tool with a woodburning attachment can be a bit nerve-racking because you can't erase mistakes as you can with a pencil. Therefore, you may have a tendency to grip the pen too tightly. Concentrate on holding your tool with a loose grip. A loose grip helps you achieve a floating motion, which produces more unified, consistent lines in your drawings. A loose grip also allows the muscles in your hand to relax, which leads to a more comfortable and enjoyable drawing experience.

Practice Board

Because you can't erase wood-burning mistakes, try to preempt mistakes by using a practice board. Have a practice board right next to your drawing board so you can try new strokes on the practice board before implementing them in your real drawing. Ensure your practice board is made of the same kind of wood as your real drawing board because different types of wood have different densities, which can affect your drawing dramatically. For example, what appears to be very dark on pine may be light on oak.

Burn in Layers

If you one section of your drawing needs to be very dark, burn that section in layers for a more even appearance. Remember that you can always make a section of your drawing darker, but you can't make it lighter after it's burned into the wood. Start light, and then burn another layer over the top if you want it darker.

Clean Your Pen Frequently

As you draw with your tool, carbon will accumulate on its tip. Every hour or so as you draw, let the tool cool down so you can polish it with fine-grit sandpaper or polishing compound. Your drawing experience will be much less frustrating if your tool stays in good condition.

Move Your Wood

Treat your wood as if it were a piece of paper, i.e., as if it is that portable. Don't feel as if you have to leave your wood in one position the entire time. Move your wood to different angles or different lighting as you work on different portions of the drawing.

© Demand Media 2011