How to Make Woodburn Art - Pyrography Tutorial
Watch the video to see how to make a simple woodburned piece of art!
Prefer a written tutorial? Here ya go!
Woodburning, or Pyrography is something I’ve been doing for years, and I love it! It’s a great hobby to get into, and can be a great stress reliever. Whether your making pieces to hang on your wall, or making gifts for friends and family, you can’t go wrong with some simple woodburned art. So let’s get to it!
In order to make your woodburned art, you’ll need a few supplies:
•Wood: Some woods are easier to burn than others, but for something like this I just use the basic common boards from Home Depot. They come in longer planks, and you can have them cut down in store or you can cut them yourself. For this project, I cut it to a 12″x12″square.
•Wood Stain: If you’re using a boring wood like I do, you’ll want to stain it. I use Minwax because I’m cheap. It does the trick! For this tutorial, I used Jacobean. Also make sure you have either a brush or cloth to apply the stain.If you don’t plan on painting around your woodburn to make it pop (like in this tutorial), be careful on using darker stains because they can make the woodburn hard to see.
•Paint Supplies: Brushes, and any sort of acrylic paint will do, I use THIS brand because, again, I’m cheap.
So what IS woodburning? Woodburning, or Pyrography, is basically just drawing on wood with a heated pen. It’s very versatile, and can range from simple silhouettes like in this tutorial, to fancy complex drawings!
Step by Step
• The first thing you have to do is figure out WHAT you’re going to burn. If you can draw and want to freehand it, you can skip this step. But if you’re not the best artist and want to use a pre-made image, here’s how you do it! Find an image you like, for this style of art I just go on google and look for silhouettes of whatever my subject is. If you’d like to use my Batman one, you can download it here and print it (don’t forget to set it to 100% scale when you print!)
• Once you have an image, you can go ahead and print it. Make sure you print it the right size you want it to be on your wood! (this can take a bit of trial and error in printing to get the size right) If you have Photoshop, I recommend creating a new document with the exact dimensions of your wood, put your image in it, then print at 100% scale. You could also use something like Microsoft Word to get the dimensions approximate!
• After you’ve printed your image out and the size is to your liking, you need to transfer it to the wood. You can do this two ways. The easiest way is to go get some graphite/carbon paper, lay that underneath the printed image and trace it onto the wood. If you don’t have any carbon paper, you can do it the janky way by turning your printed image over, rubbing your pencil across the paper, then turning it back over and tracing it onto the image (essentially making your own graphite layer). Next, you’re ready to burn!
The Outline Burn
• Alright, your image is transferred onto the wood, now for the fun part! Attach a tip to your pen (I recommend the flat tip), turn the heat up, and let that sucker heat up for about 5 minutes.
• When you have a nicely heated pen, the next step is to start tracing your image. Take your time, let the pen sit on the wood for a second to burn it in. It’s not about how HARD you press, but how long. Let the heat do its work! If you’re constantly pressing too hard on the pen, your hand will start hurting really quickly! The outline doesn’t have to be perfect, but try to keep it close. The flat tip can be a bit hard on curves. I find it helpful to move my wood around the pen for curves, rather than vice versa. Overally, remember it doesn’t have to be perfect. Wood is sort of rustic, so having your image a little blockier kind of works with the theme. Plus,you’ll get better at it with time!
Filling it In
• Once you’ve traced your image completely, you’re ready to fill it in. I use the same flat tip as before, but lay it slightly flat on its side. Then, you just drag it across the wood in strokes. You can also use the shading tip, but I find it takes longer to get a good burn, and doesn’t have the same cool texture to it. Try them out and see what you like best!
• Now that your burn is complete, you can stain it. I use a paintbrush to stain, but you can use a cloth too. Staining this is really simple, just glob that stain on there, let it sit for a few minutes then wipe it off! Let the stain dry for a bit (until it doesn’t come off onto your hand when you touch it). For me I usually wait an hour, or 30 minutes if I’m impatient!
• Yay! Now let’s paint the sucker. As I mentioned above, I just use the fairly cheap Craft Smart Premium Satin acrylic paints. You can buy them at most craft stores, and they have a good selection of colors. But honestly, any acrylic paint will do!
• For this style of art, I like to pick two colors. One dark, and one light. The darker color will go on the outside of the lighter color. So let’s start with that! Start painting dark color strokes about an inch away from your woodburn image. Don’t be afraid to make it look sort of raw and messy, that’s a cool look! You may need a few coats to get the vibrancy you want.
• After you’ve done the dark color, it’s time for the lighter color. Start by painting around the outline of your image, this is the hardest part. You may need a smaller paint brush for this so you can get in those details. Once you’ve done that, you can go back and add more paint to feather it out onto the darker color!
• Here’s a really fun part. Glob some paint on your paintbrush and flick it onto the art! Make sure you do this in a place that you don’t mind paint getting flung about! Easy as that. You don’t have to do this part, but I think it looks cool!
• Depending on the woodburn piece, I will sometimes finish the wood with a layer of polyurethane. I use the Minwax Polycrilic, which can be bought at your local hardware store. Be aware, you want to make sure your paints and stain are completely dry before putting this on otherwise it will bleed a bit (it’s also possible some paints might bleed no matter what, but I’ve never experienced that as long as they’re completely dry).
There ya go, that’s all there is to it! Hopefully that all made sense, but if you’re still having a hard time with it, check out the full video for a lot more visual help! If you have any questions, feel free to comment here or on youtube and I’ll try my best to answer them!
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And if you make some art from this tutorial, consider sharing a picture on Instagram and tag me! @taylor_tries I’d love to see your progress!
Go try it!