A while back I created my first ever mandala, the Mandala Flower, and it was a lot of fun. I just love how you can put so many different textures and pattern designs together in one piece of artwork and it still looks good. Since I had so much fun with the first mandala, I decided to create another one; Mandala II. This tutorial blog is devoted to creation of the Mandala II pyrography artwork.
You can watch a timelapse YouTube video of this artwork being created. Just click on the image to the left.
There is reader submitted art at the bottom of the blog, so please check it out.
Let’s get to work.
SKILL LEVEL: 2
- Writing tip
- Shading tip
- White charcoal pencil (do NOT use a colored pencil)
- Large Ball tip
- Knife tip
- 8×8” (20.3 x 20.3 cm) piece of wood
- Pattern (enlarge or shrink as needed) Mandala II pattern
USING THE SHADING PEN TIP – – – I wrote a tutorial on how I use the shading pen tip. That tutorial covered how I use the shading pen tip to draw lines, the different fill-in methods I commonly use, etc. During this tutorial I mention things like ‘pull-away stroke’ and I will give a brief description of what I’m doing, I’m not going to go into great detail. If you need more information I highly recommend reading the SHADING PEN TIP tutorial.
STEP 1 – PREP THE WOOD
Then thoroughly wet the board by misting it with water or running it quickly under the sink faucet. Let the board dry and then sand again.
This will produce a super smooth surface, and the smoother the surface is the better the burn results will be.
STEP 2 – TRANSFER PATTERN TO WOOD
Transfer the pattern to the wood. 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. Coat the back of a pattern with graphite, position on the wood, and trace over the pattern. Make sure to check the trace results for accuracy before removing the pattern.
For more information on pattern transfer please refer to my blog: TranferringPatterns.
STEP 3 – BURN THE OUTLINE
With the writing pen tip burn in the trace lines.
After you have burned in the trace lines, rub over the surface with a pencil eraser to remove any residual graphite.
burning in the trace lines
STEP 4 – BURN THE CENTER
During this step we will burn the very center of the design and the pointed spokes radiating out from the center.
First fill the center with concentric rings of small dots with slight tails. Start on the outer edge and work your way inward. To create a tailed dot, touch the pen tip to the wood, pause slightly to get a dark spot, pull quickly away and lift up as you’re doing this. This photo shows as I just completed the first row of dots.
In this photo I’m almost done. Quite truthfully, this area is so small, you can just color it a dark brown-black and it will look fine.
Next burn all of the spoke lines very dark. I used the razor edge of the shading tip to this.
Last, darkly burn the pointed spokes. I left the small triangular shapes next to the very center unburned for contrast.
STEP 5 – THE PETALS
Next we will burn the ring of petals around the center of the flower. I used three pen tips to get this one done – shader, writing, and knife.
First use the shader to burn the cat eyes in the center. Darkly edge each cat eye and then fill in the centers a medium tan color.
Below are photographs that show the steps.
Switch to a writing tip to dot the edges and then streak the main part of the petal. The streaking is done by drawing a line from each dot towards the cat eye.
Again, below are photographs showing the steps.
Lastly, using the knife tip, burn dark thin curved lines along the outer petal segment. After the lines are drawn, switch to the shader and slightly thicken some of the lines along the base where they touch the rest of the petal (not the outer edge).
The below pictures show the steps.
NOTE: if you don’t have a knife tip, then use the razor edge of the shader. Or you can use a writing pen tip, but the lines will be a bit thicker and there’s nothing wrong with that.
STEP 6 – THREAD SPOOLS
Now we’re going to burn the thread spools next to the petals. The shape reminded me of the spools that thread comes on, so that’s how they got their name.
With the thread spools, first darkly edge them by burning a dark line all along the edges.
Next do short pull-away strokes along the right side of the spools. Start the stroke on the right edge and pull the pen away from the edge towards the center of the spool. Keep the strokes the same length.
This will fill in half of the spool and the color will be darkest at the edge and fade in the center.
Now rotate the wood, if needed, and repeat the process on the other side of the spools.
I did many pull-away strokes to build up the color in this area.
STEP 7 – CONES
The cones were also created with pull-away strokes. Start the strokes along the edges and pull-away from the edge towards the center of the cone. Again the color fades near the center of the cone. One slight difference with the cones compared to the spools was that I added a little streaking for variety. The streaking was accomplished by extending the length of some of the strokes.
Below are photos showing the steps. Notice how the strokes vary in length
STEP 8 – DOTTED DISK
Next we’ll work on the dotted disks and they are pretty quick to do.
First darkly burn in the center ovals. I edged each oval and then filled them in with a dark brown. This is the same process used in the cat eyes on the petals.
Couple of photos below show the steps.
Switch to a large ball pen tip and darkly burn a row of dots NEAR the outer edge of the disk. Yes, I made a boo-boo and one of my dots on the first disk is on the line.
With the ball pen tip add a tan tail to each dot. Start on the dot and pull the pen tip towards the center.
NOTE: if you do not have a ball pen tip, use either the shader or the writer. With the shader you will get more of a roundish blob shape and with the writer you’ll have to draw a small circle and darkly fill it in.
STEP 9 – FRAMED DIAMONDS
Time to burn the framed diamonds. Ok, I will admit that some of the names I’m using to help describe the pattern designs aren’t great, but I couldn’t think of anything better.
First, using the knife tip fill the diamonds with thin curved dark lines.
Switch to the shading tip and darkly edge the diamonds.
Last, lightly shade the framed section near the diamond. Keep the outer edges pale to contrast with the next segment.
I mostly used pull-away strokes, but also some circular motions to fill in this area.
STEP 10 – TEXTURED TRIANGLES
The textured triangles use both the writing and the shading pen tips. I really like how the striped texture along the edges of the triangles turned out.
First burn the small triangles by burning the right side first.
Then rotate the wood, if needed, and burn the other side of the triangles.
Next darkly edge all of the objects on the inner portion of the triangle.
Edge one side of all of the circles.
Rotate the wood, if needed, and edge the other side.
Have you notice the pattern of burning all of one side, rotating the wood and burning the other side? I do this so I spend more time burning and less time rotating the wood to keep it in position for ease of burning.
Next fill in the triangle center with the leather texture. In retrospect I should have made the bottom triangles a little paler so they showed more.
First edge the inner triangle area.
Then fill the inside with the leather texture. This is done by burning rows of dark roundish shapes with the shading tip. The roundish shapes should be slightly touching. The below pictures show the steps
Lightly shade the edges of the circles, but leave the centers pale. This will give them a rounded look.
Next switch to a writing pen tip. Keep the heat setting on LOW. You don’t want color for this step, you just want a little heat. Now draw parallel lines along the outer edge.
The goal is to create lines deeply imbedded into the wood.
Almost done embedding lines
WARNING – I used a lot of pressure during this step. When I was practicing on my test burn, I bent the writer I was using. I used pliers to bend it back, but be careful. Now I will let you know I was using Colwood’s old writer tip, so I switched to the current style and it’s a lot sturdier than the old one I had.
Now switch back to the shader and turn the heat up a bit. First edge along the triangle.
Using the flat (bottom) of the shader to lightly rub over the surface of the triangle end. This will darken up the wood between the embedded lines giving you a wonderful look.
Once I had completed the next step I decided that more definition was needed between the outer edge and the pitted ovals. A quick dark line burned along the edge gave the additional definition I wanted. Below are the before and after.
Close up of one of the triangles
STEP 11 – PITTED OVALS
The pitted ovals are another step where the pattern is embedded into the wood.
First burn in the center cat eye by edging darkly and filling in with a medium tan.
Edge one side of all the cat eyes
Rotate the board, if needed, and edge the opposite side of every cat eye.
Grab a pencil and draw arched lines on the ovals. These are your guidelines. Maybe you don’t need them, but I found them to be useful as they helped make sure my lines were consistently shaped.
Using the writing pen tip on low heat deeply press the tip into the wood to create a pit (dot) mark. Repeat all along each arched line that was drawn on the ovals.
After the pitting is done, rub over the area with an erase to remove the pencil marks.
Now use the flat (bottom) of shading pen tip to rub over the pitted surface to color it. Make the outer edges the darkest and slightly darken next to the eyes. This will make the ovals look rounded.
This photo shows one oval done, the second mostly done (left side still needs darkness), and I’m starting to work on the 3rd.
Continued work on the ovals
I decided that the center cat eye wasn’t dark enough, so before I moved onto the next step, I made the center cat eye a very dark brown-black color.
This is a close up of a few of the pitted ovals.
STEP 12 – ELEGANT PODS
The elegant pods are kind of pretty to me. I pondered this area for some time before I tried anything and ironically the first idea ended up being the one I used.
First edge along the ovals.
Next grab a white charcoal pencil and fill the surface of the pod with little circular swirls.
DO NOT use a white colored pencil for this step. Color pencils contain wax and will melt and/or char under the heat of the pen. Charcoal, on the other hand, resists the head of the pen tip and it erases easily from the wood.
Here’s a close up of one pod with the charcoal circular swirls on it.
All done with the charcoal swirls
Using the writing pen tip, darkly shade the shadows of the swirls. By that I mean pretend the swirls are raised up from the surface of the pod and the light is hitting them. The light striking a raised object will cast a shadow on the ground next to that object. I had my imaginary light source coming from the left, so my shadows are on the right.
Close-up of the shadows I drew next to the swirls. Mine are on the right side of the swirls as I envisioned my light source being on the left.
This photos shows that I’m almost done burning in the shadows.
Now switch to a shader and burn darkly along the outer edge of the pod. Don’t try to avoid burning over the charcoal during this step as we want the edges dark.
Next fill in the rest of the pod a tan color that fades as it gets near the center oval. Try to avoid the charcoal swirls during this step so as to keep them lighter than than the rest of the area. Keep the area close to the center oval the palest.
I decided I wanted the edge around the center oval darker, so I did that with the center pod. Liking the look I ended up adding it to all of the pods.
Progress photo. Make sure to erase the white charcoal once it is no longer needed.
It’s time to create the basket weave pattern, so get a pencil and draw a square grid in the ovals.
First draw the horizontal lines.
Next draw the vertical lines.
Use a writer pen tip to burn in the grid and erase any residual pencil.
Burn every other square in the grid with pull-away strokes that start from the right edge and head towards the center.
Rotate the wood, if needed, and burn the left side with the same type of stroke.
Once you are done the grid will be fill with squares that have vertical (up/down) highlights in the center.
To finish the weave, burn the remaining squares with pull-away strokes. Start with the top of the squares. Pull the strokes towards the bottom.
Rotate the wood, if needed, and burn the bottoms of the squares with pull-away strokes.
This gives you a grid will with squares that have alternating highlight directions. That gives you a basket weave look.
Once I finished that last step (13) I decided I wanted more contrasts between the elegant pods and the pitted ovals. To accomplish this I darkened up the bottoms of all of the pods. Below are before and after pictures, so you can see the change.
STEP 13 – FINIALS
The last step is to burn the finials and for this you will need the knife tip and a shader. Again, if you don’t have a knife tip use the razor edge of the shader or a writing tip.
First use the knife tip to draw thin curved lines along the cat eye on the finial next to the elegant pod.
Next use the knife tip to draw semi-arched lines on the sphere just above the cat eye.
Lastly use the knife tip to draw lines on the split cat eye above the elegant pod.
Switch to a shading pen tip and shade the spheres behind the split cat eye above the pods using pull-away strokes.
Below are photographs that show the steps
Next darkly line along the edges of the split cat eye on the finial next to the elegant pod.
Lightly fill in the center with small circular strokes.
Then shade around the edges of all of the objects that were filled with lines.
Shade along the edges of the lined cat eyes.
Fill in the center of the split cat eye with pull-away strokes to match the rest of the sphere.
Shade along the edges of the split cat eye.
Using pull-away strokes shade in all of the beads at the ends of the finials. First do the bottoms of the beads.
Rotate the wood, if needed, and fill in the tops.
I shaded all of them in the same direction so the highlight (pale center) was horizontal on the sphere.
This picture shows my test burn. I drew the pattern onto a piece of plywood and played around with different looks. In a way I like how this looks because there is so much going on. It wouldn’t be something I’d put on my wall, but it’s still interesting to look at.
Then I drew the pattern onto a different spot on the same board and started putting the stuff I liked into the new test area. This gave me a better idea of how the final art would look. I highly recommend doing this. It’s fun and allows you to practice some of the techniques.
Just for your information one thing I used to help me come up with ideas for filling in my mandala was to look at pyrography textures others have done. Sometimes I use what I find and other times I modify what I find. Regardless it helps give me ideas when I hit a stumbling block. Do an internet search for ‘pyrography textures’ and look around at the results. You might find something wondrous you really like and would prefer to use instead of what I did. That’s awesome because it’s your artwork, so own it.
Before I conclude this tutorial I thought I’d mention the creation of the pattern design. This one started out with a Spirograph design. I was playing around with one and liked an example they provided. So I started with that and built upon it.
When I’m playing around with a design, I ink in the stuff I know I like and I keep the rest as pencil marks. That way I can easily erase and try new stuff. So this photo shows some pencil work as I was experimenting with different ideas.
In this photo I’ve got the majority of the basic pattern inked in place. The only thing I inked in after I took this photo were two finials on either side of the pod. Yes, my pattern only had 1 elegant pod on it.
After I’ve got the pattern inked in on the paper, I place a piece of tracing paper over the pattern and transfer it to the tracing paper. I have to rotate the tracing paper to continue the pattern. So in this photo I’ve got 3 elegant pods inked in and that means I shifted (rotated) the tracing paper twice after I traced the initial one.
Here’s the tracing paper after I was done. I put a piece of white paper behind it so it’s easy to copy and scan.
We’re done creating the Mandala II and I hope that you will create this artwork yourself. Don’t be afraid to let your creativity out. My instructions are guidelines, nothing more. This website is my outlet to share my love of pyrography with you, but I also want to help those trying to learn this art form.
As always I welcome feedback. It’s the only way I will discover how I’m doing and what improvements I can/should make.
Now to answer a couple of questions I get asked frequently. This artwork was burned on Baltic Birch plywood that measures 8 x 7 1/2 inches (20.3 x 19.1 cm) and it took me 6 1/4 hours to complete Mandala II. 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. And I do mean a lot. It’s usually the second question I get right after “how did you do this.” Anyways, the only thing that is truly important is that you like how your artwork turned out. Keep in mind that even if you aren’t happy with it, you gained some experience and you can always try again.
I’ve produced a few pieces of artwork that I’m amazed I actually created something that nice looking. Then there are others that I’m almost embarrassed to sign my name to. When that happens I remind myself, I learned something during its creation and that’s important too. It doesn’t make me like the artwork any better, but at least I don’t feel like it was a complete waste of time.
Until the next blog,
May 20, 2017
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This artwork was submitted by Jennifer Rand. I love the creativity Jennifer shows in her work and the color version of the artwork is great; reminds me of peacock feathers! Wonderful job, Jennifer! Thank you for sharing with us.