The Rose Pyrography Tutorial wood burning

Rose flower wood burning pyrography by bmj

In this blog I’m going to explain how I created the Rose pyrography artwork.  This is another tutorial that relies heavily on the shading pen tip, as almost all of my artwork does.  This tutorial, like the 3d stone tutorial, also deals with the direction of light and cast shadows, so we’ll continue to build on those skills.  A new technique I will cover is how to create the illusion of an arch or ruffle in a petal.  Let’s get to work.  

You can watch a timelapse YouTube video of this artwork being created. Just click on the image to the left.   



Reader submitted art at the bottom of the blog.


  • Writing tip or point tip nib
  • Shading tip
  • Piece of wood that is around a 6″ x 8″.
  • Attached Pattern   Rose pattern  (you can reduce or enlarge the pattern size if  needed/desired).

STEP 1 – Transfer pattern to the wood (pencil)

Checking for a complete transfer

I use the tracing method to transfer all my patterns to my projects.  It’s cheap, easy, and gives me control on what I want to include.  Print off your pattern on light weight paper (standard copier paper is perfect), coat the back of the pattern with a graphite pencil  (I use one in the B ranges), place pattern on wood, tape in place, trace over pattern with a sharp pencil, remove pattern, and you’re ready to burn.    You might need to cut the pattern down in size so you can see where to place it on the wood.  


STEP 2 – Lightly burn the outline (writing pen tip)

Outline burned in

With the writing pen tip on medium low, lightly burn in the trace lines.  After burning in all of the trace lines, then rub a pencil eraser over the surface to remove any residual graphite. It is easy to get into the habit of burning your outline or trace lines darkly, but if you want to create realistic art don’t get into that habit.  








Burning the outline

Keep your trace lines burned as lightly as possible.  Darkly burned trace lines tends to look more like a color book.   Quite frequently the trace lines are nothing more than guidelines to me on where to add shadows, draw fur, etc. and I don’t want a dark harsh line to interfere with that.    The darker the line, the darker the art has to be to make the line blend in and this is especially true with animals and people.

In this project it is very important to keep the trace lines as light as possible since we’re trying to create a realistic rose versus coloring book styled artwork. 


STEP 3 – Burn dark shadow seam lines (writing pen tip)

Burn dark lines where the shadows will go

Using the writing pen tip I burned dark lines along the edges of the petals where the shadows would be.  I also burned the leaves and stem lines darkly.   This step helped me visualize where the shadows would be and provide a sharp crisp line to define those spots.  

To visualize the shadows, I first have to determine where my light source is located.  I’ve noticed over the years that this almost always tends to be above and to the left of the subject matter.  The rose is no exception and this means that the cast shadows are going be located on the right side.  So that is how I determined my dark line placement. 


Burning the stem shadow

The bud leaf and stem lines weren’t darkened for shadow purposes, but to provide dark crisp defined edges.  I could have waited until I was ready to burn them, but I took advantage of having the writing pen tip at temperature.

Lastly, in this step, I used the writing pen tip and put a dark shadow on the stem just under the bottom petal on the large rose.  I did this by drawing very short, dark, vertical lines on the stem along the edge of the petal. 



STEP 4 – Shade the stem & lower 2 petals (shading pen tip)

Lower petals burned in

In this step we will shade the stem and the 2 lowest petals on the main rose.   

First I created a “buffer” zone around the petals.  The buffer zone, as I call it, is a process of burning lightly along the edges of the petal to make it easier to stay within the boundaries when you shade and tone it later.  To create a buffer zone use the shading pen tip to create a thick line along the outer edge of the petals. 







Burning a buffer zone along edges

It’s important to have your pen tip in what I call the “optimal pen tip position.”  Note the pen tip position in the picture.  The end of the pen tip is positioned along the inside edge of the petal.  Positioning the pen tip this way ensures that I am only burning on the petal and not on the area around the petal.  

If you walk away with only one thing from this tutorial, I hope optimal pen tip position is it.    Optimal pen tip position ensures that you are burning where you INTEND to burn and that your borders are crisp/clean.

Turning the wood, when needed, is important to ensure you keep optimal pen tip placement.   You can angle your hand in weird positions to accomplish this, but if you’re burning for any duration of time it’s much easier to just turn the wood.


Burning the stem

The stem was quick burned by creating several rows of tiny zigzag lines down the length of the stem.   Since I’m left handed, I worked from the right to the left side and a right-handed person would probably find it easier to do the opposite.  Each row was approximately 1/8-1/4 inches tall and there wasn’t much gap between each zig and zag.  Basically I’m moving the pen tip in an up/down motion slowly working from the right side to the left side.  I’ve found that this type of shading produces dark results in a short amount of time without the need for me to slow my hand speed or turn up the pen heat.  

To darken up the stem even more, just repeat the process of creating rows of zigzags.  



Now it’s time to work on the rose petals.  

Working on the first petal

First working on the lower right petal, uniformly tone it a light to medium tan color or base tone as I shall refer to it.    I accomplished this by making small circular motions over the entire petal with the shading pen tip.    The key to getting a smooth uniform tone is to keep the pen tip in constant motion and to keep the pen on medium-low heat.  I used this same basic motion while toning and shading all of the petals.

In the picture you might noticed that I darkened up the ‘bent’ spot on the petal and put in a cast shadow, but I will discuss those in detail a little later on. 



TONE vs SHADE:   I will be using the words tone and shade a lot in this tutorial, so let me explain their definition for this tutorial.  TONE = the petal should be burned to a uniform color.   SHADE = means that the petal is burned to give it the three dimensional shape often with the use of gradient color (non uniform) or shadows. 

Burning on the 2nd petal

Back to the petals.  Switching to the lower left, tone it to the base color. 








The arch

DO NOT tone the arch.  Our goal is to make petal look like it has an arch or deep bend in the  petal, and part of the illusion is to make the top part of the arch the lightest spot on the petal.  

After toning the left petal (with the exception of the arch), we will now work on shading the petals to give them their 3D look.  





dark shadows

The first thing I did was darken the petals near their base (where they meet other petals) where the light gets blocked from the other petals.  Or in other words, I burned the cast shadows.  As you can see from the picture I made these areas very dark.




dark shadows

One the lower right rose petal I finished burning in the rest of the cast shadows.  There are two: 1) the large curved shadow along the back of the petal, and 2) a smaller cast shadow from the adjoining lower left petal.   Lastly, I slightly darkened the outer edges on the petal to make them look like they are curving downward. 






Below are two different photos showing the progression as I worked on on the lower right petal.









Right side ruffles

After shading the lower right petal, I went back to work on the left petal.  First, I darkened up the right side of the little arches that form the ruffled petal edge. 






Darken area to left of arch

Also I darkened the area to the left of the big arch to make sure the arch popped out.   I decided that my petal was a bit light in over-all tone, so I darkened it up.  My very last step was to lightly burn the big arch so it wasn’t “white” looking.








After the lower petals are done

STEP 5 – Shade the next 3 petals on the rose + darken ruffle underside (shading & writing pen tip)

Next group of petals

Working on the leftmost rose petal I first shaded in the right side of the arches to define the ruffles on that petal (just like we did with the lower left petal). 









Started on the left petal

I also shaded the crevasse or seam where the petal meets the other petals.  So let’s talk about the difference between cast and crevasse shadows.  

Cast shadows  are created from the sun striking the object.  Their shape tends to be the same as the object, but the angle and length of the shadow is determined by the position of the sun (light source).   A sun positioned overhead doesn’t produce very long shadows compared to shadows cast by a sun that near the horizon.   Also, a cast shadow tends to have the same color for the entire shadow.

Crevasse shadows  are shadows that decrease in intensity or fade out.  To visualize this think about caves; they are darkest at the back of the cave where the light can’t reach and lightest near the cave opening.  Crevasse shadows are the same way in that they are darkest at the seam point (back of the cave) and gradually lighten the further from the seam they get.  The deeper the crevasse the darker the seam shadow.

After burning the crevasse shadow I uniformly burned the rest of the petal (it’s hard to tell from the picture because of the way the light is hitting the work) to the base tone.

Next I shaded and toned the center petal.  First I applied uniform tone to the petal getting it to the base tone color the rose has.    I should point out that when you are toning the rose, you need to make sure your base tone is the same on all of the petals.   If one, or more, petals are darker than the rest, your rose will look off; especially if this darkness can’t be explained by shadows. 








working on the center petal

Lastly, for this petal, the cast shadow needs to be burned in.  The cast shadow is coming from the folded or bent-over top of the petal.  I have my sun (light source) located to the top left, so the cast shadow has a slight right slant to it.   I did not burn the folded / bent over top portion of the petal in this step.

In the example below I’m showing the effect the sun position would have on the cast shadows.   A left slant shadow means the sun is to the right of the object.  Center means the sun is overhead (or very nearly) and a right slant means the sun is to the left of the object.

Sun’s effect on shadows


working on the right petal

The right petal was first uniformly toned and then shaded.  The petal has both crevasse and cast shadows on it.  I burned the crevasse shadows first with the darkest spot at the seam and gradually faded it away.  Then I burned the right edge of the petal to give it the appearance of curving downward.  Lastly, I burned the cast shadow from the above petal.








Using a writing tip to burn the dark small shadows

Switching to the writing pen tip, the last part of this step is to burn the dark shadows on the underside of the ruffles and arches.









Burning the underside of the ruffles

Burn in the underside of the ruffles using a writer pen tip.










Defining the dark shadow

I also used the writing tip to really darken the area between the center petal and the lower left petal.




STEP 6 – shade the next 4 petals on the rose (shading pen tip)          

Next group of petals burned in










Burning the top of the petal uniformly in tone

Working on the left most petal, shade the crevasse and the slight bend at the edge of the petal and then uniformly tone the rest of the petal.  Notice how much darker the crevasse shading is compared to the outer edge of the petal.  The outer edge I just barely darkened beyond the base color of the rose.






Burning the petal fold

The top folded or bent over portion of the center petal is what I worked on next.  I first uniformly toned it to the base tone and then shaded along the top and bottom edges of the petal.  Just like the arch, you need a light band next to the shading to give it that bent over look.  Something to keep in mind with this petal is that the light doesn’t strike it uniformly, so the light diminishes the further to the right you go along the petal.  To create this phenomenon in the artwork is a matter of having the shading get darker the closer to the right side of the petal you get.  

Another aspect to this is to increase the width of the shading.  To see this first look at the shading along the top edge and see how it increases in width ever so slightly as it near the right edge.   The shading along the bottom edge, on the other hand, greatly increases in width as it nears the right edge to the point that it actually ends up touching the top shading.


Our next petal we’ll work on is the one located slightly off center to the left just above the folded over petal we just finished.  Again, put in the cast shadow from its curved petal edge and then uniformly tone the rest of the petal.








The last petal in this group

The last petal in this step is the petal to the left of the one we just finished.  With this petal I burned a crevasse shadow that slowly faded to the uniform base tone as I worked by my way out to the edge of the petal.




STEP 7 – Finish the main rose (shading pen tip)

Main Rose is done

Let’s finish the main rose.









Burning right most petal

First, I shaded the right most petal by shading along the crevasse and the toning the rest of the petal.  Or, put another way, crevasse shade the petal and gradually fade out the color till it reaches the uniform base tone.








Dividing lines burned in

Next, I turned the pen tip on edge (used the razor edge) to define the edges of the petals.  If it’s easier for you switch to the writing pen tip.









Now it’s just a matter of toning and shading the remaining petals.  Yes, I toned and shaded each one separately.  View the progress pictures below.










STEP 8 – the rose bud (shading pen tip)

The Rose Bud

Now we’ll work on the bud.









Tone the upright leaf in the front, the left in the back right, and the lower section of the upright left leaf.








Tone and shade the the back petals of the bud (all of the petals on the right).  First uniformly tone them all and then apply a bit of shading/shadows to define each petal.







Next shade and tone the main bud petal.  The is the petal on the left side of the bud.  I uniformly toned it and the darkened the bottom to make it look rounded.  I also darkened near the top left to make it look like the petal curves inward a little.








After taking care of the main petal I shaded and toned the left bent leaf.  Note how I kept the bend area very light as this is what creates that illusion.  It’s very similar to the step we did for burning the large arch.  You create a light spot with areas on either side of the spot burned darker.  This forces the light spot to pop out and is the key to the illusion of a bent leaf.






Darken the stem and front upright leaf.









Lastly tone and shade the right bent leaf, and tone the left upright leaf.







Rose Bud finished









STEP 9 – fine tune

Now is the time to look your artwork over and fine tune it if needed.  Increase shadows, darken petals, make sure all of the petals have the same basic tone, etc.  Once you’re happy with your artwork, sign your name to it. 

Rose flower wood burning pyrography by bmj
Rose (2 2015)

That’s it, we’re done.  You probably discovered that after you get one or two petals burned, the rest of the flower goes pretty quickly because the same basic steps are used on each petal.   What I like about this tutorial is that it demonstrated how to create the illusion of an arch, bend or fold over, and ruffles on a petal.   Plus we dealt with cast shadows versus crevasse shadows, building on the shadow lessons from the 3d stone tutorial.  I do hope you found this tutorial education and easy to follow along.

You can use this rose to decorate an assortment of items like utensil holders, cutting boards, wooden boxes, etc.   Another use is to put this rose in the rope oval center on the doodle trinket box pattern found on my pattern page (I’ve put a link here). 


Lastly to answer a few commonly asked questions.   This project was burned on basswood, it measures 6 x 8 inches, and took me 2 1/2 hours.  That said, this is not a race or contest.  I only put how long a project takes me as I get asked that question a lot.  You may get this done faster or slower, but that doesn’t matter.  What’s important is you’re doing the tutorial, learning to control the shading pen tip, and hopefully having fun.


Mar 23, 2016

This colorful rose was done by Trish.  She used color pencils and then blended the color using mineral spirits applied with a small makeup applicator.   Wonderfully creative and the final results are fantastic.  Thanks for sharing Trish! 





This is another take on the rose artwork submitted by Trish.  I love the creative take on the rose with the addition of the water drops!  Seeing how other artist make changes to the subject is always exciting.   The artwork looks wonderful on the the heart shaped wood.  Trish, thank you for sharing your artwork with us! 







This beautiful version of the rose comes to us from Jacqui J.   The rose looks great and I love the decorative scroll work around the edges of the board.  Very nicely done.  Jacqui, thanks for sharing!   








This is another rose burning by Jacqui.   I’m going to guess that this was the second attempt at the rose as the shading looks smoother.   This is another great example of how a decorative border really enhances the overall look of the artwork.   Wonderful job!   Jacqui, again thanks so much for sharing with us.


10 thoughts on “The Rose Pyrography Tutorial wood burning

  1. I have wanted to try pyrography for years. This week I used this tutorial and made my first project, the rose. It was fun and I am thrilled with it, flaws and all. Thank you so much for sharing your gift with us. I am excited to redo this project and make many more.

  2. Hi Brenda I am loving your work, your tutorials are great. I have had a go at your Rose and i am pleased with the out come.
    Please keep up the great work as I am sure to follow some more ….jj

    1. Hi JJ,
      I’m glad that my tutorials are helpful. I saw your rose and it looks wonderful!
      I hope you enjoy creating art in pyrography as much as I do.

  3. Hi Brenda, I am from a small island in the Caribbean and recently learned about the art of pyrography while on a visit to Texas. I have been trying it just three weeks now and I am so pleased with myself. I have to say that of all the tutorials I’ve looked at, yours is the most comprehensive and most helpful. You have a new fan in me!! Thank you.

    1. Hi Jenni,
      I bet you see some gorgeous stuff on the island!
      Let me welcome you to the wonderful artform of pyrography! I hope you have a lot of fun with it. I absolutely love the artform.
      I’m glad to hear that my tutorials and website are helpful.
      Thank you for the lovely comment and I hope you create lots of beautiful artwork!

    1. Hi Kim,

      we all have to start somewhere. As I’ve told several friends, I didn’t just wake up one day and discover I could create pyrography art. I started out drawing for many, many, many years and pyrography is very much like drawing, so that helps me a lot. The most exciting thing to me is that I continue to learn new things with the artform via experimenting and learning from others.

      I would love to see your artwork. If you are comfortable sharing please send me a picture to

    1. Hello Bianca,

      I use a micro writer pen tip. First I sign my name with a pencil and then I burn over the pencil lines with the micro writer. I burn lightly over the lines the first time as that is easier to follow the curves. Then I re-burn over them to darken them up. Hope that helps. By the way, I’d love to see something you’ve done. if you feel comfortable sharing, please send me a picture at


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