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Pyrography Tutorial "Indi" - Pyrography Animal Portrait Tutorial Work in Progress

Pyrography Tutorial Work in Progress by Nedra Denison

Please click on each thumbnail for a larger version of each photo

Indi starting his face with the most important elements the eyes and nose. Indi adding more detail to his face. Indi adding more detail to his face. Filling in more detail on Indi's head and body. Indi is mostly done just some fine detail work to finish him off.


Indi, in all his glory is finished.

This was the first dog portrait I ever did and definitely a learning experience trying to achieve the all the tonal values of the black...and yes, there are tonal values of black! If I were to do this over again now I would work on those black areas a bit more to darken the dark areas. 

This was a commission done for a fellow Delta Society evaluator and being my first dog portrait I gave it to her for a very reasonable price. She was thrilled with how it turned out. Indi is a really good looking dog to begin with so I had a good subject.  Indi is a show dog and a champion so it was an honor to have had this as my first doggie commission.

I start with a very basic outline to get the proper placement of eyes, nose, mouth, etc. This is the method I use for most of my work. I use the photo as a guide to do all the lines, wrinkles, shading and fine detail as she burns. 

The burning is done in layers, just like you get dressed in the morning - start with the bottom layers and add the next layer on top of the previous layer. By doing the burning in this manner she creates depth so the burning looks "alive" rather than "flat". 

When burning fur I lay in the tone, or add a base color with my gradient shading and then add the texture on top. I use the side of the bent spear shader to add the fur in layers, bottom layer first and then work toward the top layer, just as it grows. This makes it look more natural.

I normally convert the photo to black and white so it's easier to see the tonal values (lights, mediums and darks). It's essential to make sure that the lights are light and the darks dark. A common mistake people make is that everything is the same tone. 

I always look closely at the highlights to make sure that they are added in the right spots and if necessary I will use a straight-edged razor to lighten up any spots that are too dark. 

My goal is to make my work look natural and life-like, capturing the essence of the animal/person on the wood, rather than just creating a "flat" portrait without life. I believe that the eyes are the windows of the soul, so she does the eyes first because she feels that if you don't capture the eyes properly, you might as well throw your work in the trash. If you were to look at my work in person, you might even feel those eyes following you....

This work in progress is intended to help you learn how to create depth, layering and make a natural, lifelike burning. It may not be copied. It is an original artwork is copyright protected.  

Happy Burning ©!

Nedra Denison signature.


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