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Thursday, December 31, 2009

How To: Turn a Piece of Wood Into a Piece of Art Part 1

I put some pictures up earlier this week of the woodburning/paintings I did for my family for Christmas. Those of you who saw the post and commented seemed to like what I had done, and those, honestly, were not the best ones I've done. I didn't have enough time to put as much detail work into them as I wished. So now I am working on a new woodburning/painting for my son for a belated Christmas gift. (I will also be making one for my daughter.) I figured I'd put up a tutorial of sorts for anyone interested in seeing the process in a step-by-step way. Forgive the pictures, our good digital camera decided to be a p.o.s. (piece of shit) and is not working right now so all the photos were taken on my phone.

First, find a starter image. If you can draw, unlike me, then you can create your own starter image. If you are like me, and can't draw well enough to use for a project like this, then search the internet for your starting image. To my knowledge, so long as you do not try to pass the art off as original and do not intend to make a profit off it there should be no copyright infringement. My son is very much into World of Warcraft, so this is my starting image for his picture.

You will, of course, need a piece of wood the size you want the picture to be. I printed this image on standard paper so I have a piece of wood 8 1/2" X 11". I am using 1/4 inch paneling, because it was FREE. I know the owner of a cabinet shop here in town and he gives me scrap wood at no charge.

Once you print the image to the size you want, you will need carbon paper and a ball point pen. Tape the carbon paper and printed image to your piece of wood (after sanding, if needed) and trace the main outline and details of the image. What you end up with should look something like this.

After tracing your image, you can then move on to woodburning the outline and details that you traced. This is not required if you want to just paint it, but it's what I do so bear with me. Most wood-burners come with multiple tips. I only use one, it is thin enough to make fine lines and I can also shade with it. It is the one that's shape most resembles a pen.

Take your time and wood burn the outline you created. You can add as much or as little shading as you desire. I have found that the acrylic paints I use don't stick well to the burned wood areas so I have started doing less detailing with the burner. I basically just outline and do the areas that are solid black.

Depending on how you wish your image to look, you can do more shading and detail with the wood burner and leave it unpainted. I like painting because I can add so much more detail. To start with I will be painting the Ice Throne. I will be using a combination of 4 paint colors for the ice and snow. Plain White, Metallic Pearl White, Metallic Blue Sapphire, and Metallic Sequin Black. I love metallic paints, especially for things that are supposed to be shiny/sparkly. For those of you who don't have a tote full of paint sitting around at home, don't go running to the store and buy every single color there is. I keep a few basic colors and mix most of my colors on a butter bowl lid. This works very well for me and uses little paint.

Once you have chosen your colors to start with, paint your main colors in the correct areas. Keep your printed copy of the image handy for reference, or on the computer. This part is the tedious part, as well as time consuming. Make sure you have a small tip paint brush for getting into the tiny areas.

This is what I have after putting down the main colors. The blue areas indicating ice and the white areas indicating snow. Now to add some depth. You will need to use the same colors to add highlighting and shadow. The blue area in my painting is not straight out of the bottle. If you look at the starter image, you will see that it is a grey blue in color. I mixed the metallic blue, metallic black, and a touch of white to get the desired color. I also use a little water to thin the paint and help it reamain spreadable. This is one advantage to working with acrylics, that can be reconstitured to some extent with water, yet they dry quickly for impatient people like me that don't want to wait hours to move on to the next part of the project. Use your starter image as a guide if you are not much of a painter. It will show you exactly where to put the lights and darks to get the depth you need. Don't be afraid to use your fingers to 'blend' your paint. I do a lot. My fingers tend to get more paint on them then the brush sometimes. After addint the shading and highlighting your image should look something like this.

This is the point that I am stopping at for the night. It is almost 2:00 am and I need sleep. I will be working on this more tomorrow and will continue the tutorial then. I hope that this helps anyone interested in creating some beautiful art to learn something new. Good luck, and if you are doing something similar, please let me know. I love to share art!

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