Ranunculus is the third installment in my Wallflowers series. I love this series as the flowers are pretty and visually striking. The ranunculus photo was taken from a plant I bought at the nursery. I loved the pink color, the ruffled petals, and how the flower reminded me of an old fashioned rose. It’s a good thing I took lots of photos because it died shortly after being planted in my yard. Anyways, this blog is a tutorial explaining how to create the Ranunculus wallflower pyrography artwork.
Watch the youtube tutorial video of this artwork by clicking on the icon to the left.
There is reader submitted art at the bottom of the blog, so please check that out.
Now, let’s get to work.
SKILL LEVEL: 2
- Writing tip
- Shading tip
- 4 x 6 inch (10.2 x 15.2 cm) piece of wood
- Pattern (enlarge or shrink as needed) Ranunculus pattern
ABOUT THE WOOD – –
In my Wallflowers series I wanted to present an option for sourcing wood other than you might normally consider; a local home improvement store or a lumberyard. A trip to a store near me revealed long boards of maple that came in an assortment of widths.
I purchased an 8 foot long board (2.44 m) that was 6 inches wide (15.2 cm) and it cost around $45 dollars. The board was cut into 4 inch (10.2 cm) long chunks, so I have with enough 4” x 6” (10.2 x 15.2 cm) chunks to do quite a few wallflower projects.
The store carried boards of other widths both smaller and larger, and, of course, the wider the board the more expensive it becomes. The six inch board was selected because Todd needed it for something and I got the left over. If it wasn’t for that I could have gone with the cheaper 4” wide (10.2 cm) board and had it cut into 6” long (15.2 cm) chunks.
I ended up with 9 pieces of maple; 7 measure 4×6 inches (10.2×15.2 cm) and 2 measure 5×6 inches (12.7×15.2 cm).
Do you have to use maple? Heck no. The only thing I would recommend is that the board be pale in color and not have a lot of grain lines. Poplar can be a good choice and some people really like pine as it’s fairly inexpensive and readily found. You just have to go to the store and see what is available.
Don’t have a saw? Most lumber yards and home improvement stores do, so they can cut up the board for you.
STEP 1 – PREP THE WOOD
Prep the wood surface for burning by sanding the surface smooth using at least 220 grit sandpaper. Mist the board with water, and then let it dry. Once dry sand again. The board is now ultra smooth and ready for use.
STEP 2 – TRANSFER PATTERN TO 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. Print off your pattern on lightweight paper (standard copier paper is perfect), coat the back of the pattern with a graphite pencil, position on the wood, and trace over the pattern. Make sure to check the trace results for accuracy before removing the pattern.
On the pattern there are some areas with lots of close parallel lines (black arrow on photo indicates one such area). These areas indicate cast shadows on the petals, so the parallel lines do not have to be drawn in, but you might find it easier to include a few of them as I did.
STEP 3 – BURN THE OUTLINE
With the writing pen tip on medium low, lightly burn in the trace lines, but not for the shadow areas.
Their sole purpose was to help visually distinguish the cast shadows on the petals.
Turn the heat up so the letters get burned in very dark on the flower’s name. The heat will make the pen tip sink into the wood and later the charing gets scraped away leaving us with an embossed flower name.
After you have burned in the trace lines, rub over the surface with a pencil eraser to remove any residual graphite. Be careful not to erase the parallel lines indicating cast shadows.
STEP 4 – FLOWER & STEM
Now we’re ready to burn in the flower and the flower’s stem.
Here’s our reference photo.
Each petal gets burned in using a 2 step process: 1) uniformly color the petal a light tan, and 2) add ruffles. Several petals (especially the lower petals) also get a cast shadows burned onto them.
The steps don’t have to be done in that exact order on each petal, but each petal receives all the steps. I tend to burn one petal completely and then move on to the next one, but you don’t have to the do the same. For example, you can burn in all of the cast shadows on every petal and then move on.
Lastly there are a few petals that will need contouring, but those will get covered as they occur.
I burned the lower two petals first, but I’m going to talk about them in a few minutes. They were so small that it makes it harder to see the steps.
Instead we’re going to start with the petal marked with the yellow X.
First burn in the cast shadows. There are two on this petal and I’ve finished one of them and am just starting on the second.
In this photo I’m finishing the second cast shadow.
Use long strokes that follow the petal growth direction and uniformly color the petal a light tan color. With this petal it means I’m starting the stroke in the shadowed area and pulling the stroke down to the end of the petal. I’m not burning left to right on the petal.
Lastly, add the ruffles. To add ruffles, do short pull-away strokes that start on the petal edge. Pull the pen tip away from the petal edge towards the center of the flower. Then lift the pen tip up and away from the wood. Move the pen tip over a little bit and repeat to create another ruffle.
The illusion of ruffles happens because of the contrast between the light and dark streaks along the edge of the petal. Increased contrast will make the ruffles appear deeper (more curved) and little contrast will make the ruffles appear very shallow. This means that you have control over how deep the ruffles are on your flower. You also have control on how many ruffles you want to burn; add as few or as many ruffles as you want. This is your artwork, so enjoy creating it.
As you can see, there isn’t much work required to burn in a petal, so let’s go back to the first two petals and quickly go over burning them.
Burn in the cast shadow.
Uniformly color and add a couple of ruffles.
Again burn in the cast shadow.
Uniformly color and add the ruffles.
Moving to the left petal adjacent to first example petal, burn in the cast shadow.
Uniformly color and then darken the entire outer edge of the petal. This petal curves downward, so we don’t get to see the ruffles much. Not to say that you can’t have ruffles there if you want them!
Here’s how the petal looked after I was done.
Working on the center petal, burn in both cast shadows.
Contour the center of the petal as it has a bit of a depression or concave area.
Next petal same drill. Burn in the cast shadows
Uniformly color and add ruffles.
Here’s a progress photo of the flower so far. You might have noticed that I colored past the lines in the lower petals. I wasn’t worried about being careful as I plan to burn the background very dark, so it will get covered up.
Doesn’t this seem like magic? The art starts as a flat line drawing and slowly transforms into a three-dimensional object. It is one of the reasons I have always loved creating art.
Continue to burn in the petals following the steps I’ve outlined. The order the steps are done in doesn’t really matter as the end result is the same.
Working on the next petal over.
Note that there are two areas to contour on this and the last petal. I’ve marked the spots with yellow arrows. Remember when you contour you are adding a touch more color to give the impression of curves and depressions/concave areas in the petals. It’s not a cast shadow, so keep the color lighter than that of the cast shadows.
The two left petals need nothing more than uniform coloring and ruffling.
Color and ruffle the right petal as you work your way to towards the center petals.
Burn in the cast shadow. Notice how I burned the cast shadow last? As I mentioned before, you don’t have to do the steps in the exact same order.
This center petal is curving upward, so we are seeing the underside of the petal. Looking at the reference photo there is a darker line along the top edge defining it.
The petal fades in color near the base of the petal due to reflected light. Use pull-away strokes that start at the top edge and pull them down towards the base. Lift the pen up and away before reaching the base of the petal.
With the petal to the immediate left, it also shows the underside of the petal, but the top curves back revealing a little of the topside of the petal. Work first on the curved topside. Use pull-away strokes that start on the outer edge and pull towards the center of the flower.
This petal doesn’t have reflected light to brighten the base, so the base is darker. Use pull-away strokes starting at the base and pull the stroke up towards the top of the petal.
Here’s another progress photo.
The next petal also shows both underside and topside of the petal, so burn the topside just like the last petal.
With the petal underside again use pull-away strokes that start at the top of the petal and get pulled down towards the base, but leave the base as the palest spot.
Two petals on the right are burned in. The left one of the two (that I’m currently working on) gets the treatment that the petal below it had: dark top edge and paler base. The petal immediately to the right gets a touch of a cast shadow along the seam where the two petals touch. Uniformly color it and contour with a wide swath (thick band) through the center of the petal’s length.
The upper left petal is a simple matter of uniformly coloring and adding ruffles.
The next petal is mostly in shadows, so the shadow gets burned in and the rest is uniform in color. You’ll have to burn the ruffles pretty dark to get them to show.
The next petal has a touch of contouring along the left edge and near the top left of the petal.
Continued work on the petal.
Here’s another progress photo. We’re almost done with the blossom.
The adjacent petal has a curve and a slight cast shadow. The curve shows the underside of the petal and it’s this curve that is casting the shadow. Burn in the cast shadow, uniformly color the rest of the petal, and then add ruffles along the top. With the curve the only thing you need to do is uniformly color it.
Burn the upper right petal uniformly in color, add ruffles, and the slight cast shadow.
The last petal gets burned uniformly and ruffles added, but it also has a slight contour that starts on the middle left and continues down towards the bottom center of the petal.
Lightly burn along the upper 1/3 of the stamen in the center of the plant. Ok, I have to admit that I’m not sure what the center thing is really called, but for lack of a better word we’re using stamen. That and it’s the only other flower part I know besides petal and stem.
Switch to the writing pen tip and burn lots of tiny short dark hairs over the rest of the stamen.
If needed, switch back to the shader and darken up the stamen along the transition zone where the hairline ends.
Here’s how the flower looks at this point.
To burn the stem edge along the right side of it with the shader. The right side needs to be darker than the left.
Continued work. The stem needs to be dark tan to brown in color. Keep in mind that the background gets burned to a dark brown color, so make sure that the stem is paler than that.
Finish up the stem by darkening the top 1/3 of the stem to account for the cast shadow from the flower on it.
STEP 5 – BACKGROUND
Burn the background a dark brown-black color using a small circular motion to fill in the background. A circular motion is burning a line of small looping circles that connect to each other. For a much better explanation with lots of pictures, please refer to my blog on Using the Shading Pen Tip.
First darkly burn a buffer zone around the flower, stem, and leaves. Make sure that the background is darker than the stem.
Continued work. While doing this step go slow to carefully burn around the flower and greenery. Because I’m working slow and carefully the heat is on medium for this step.
Once the buffer zone is in place, turn up the heat on the pen and start working on the rest of the background.
The buffer zone means I don’t have to get close to the flowers and greenery while I’m burning the rest of the background. This means I can turn up the heat on my pen and move my hand a lot faster.
Burn darkly right over the flower name.
STEP 6 – EMBOSS THE NAME
Use something with a sharp point like an X-acto knife tip to scrape along the bottoms of the letters to remove the charring. This takes a little bit of time, but eventually it reveals the plain wood underneath. I had started it right after I darkly burned in the letters, but didn’t finish until after the background was done.
There might be a much easier way to do this, but I’m not aware of what that would be. If you have ideas or suggestions please share them. One purpose of this website is to share information about pyrography.
STEP 7 – GREENERY
Time to finish the project by burning in the greenery. The greenery gets burned a tan to medium tan color with darker veins. Lastly, burn along the veins lines using a circular motion.
Artist note – I kept the greenery pretty basic. If you would prefer something more complex and/or realistic looking, then search the internet or, possibly, your own back yard for something suitable.
Start on the left leaf and burn it a tan color. Then burn darker along the vein lines using a circular motion. The circular motion gives a wide band of color that doesn’t have crisp sharp edges.
Lastly use the razor edge of the shader to burn the veins in darker.
Working on the next leaf.
Starting on the right clump of leaves.
You can also burn in the veins and then burn the rest of the leaf.
Keep the leaves in the foreground slightly paler than those in the background. This provides a bit of contrast to help the viewer distinguish between the leaves.
Working on the next leaf
Working on a leaf in the background.
Finishing the front leaf and making sure it’s paler than the leaves behind.
Working the last leaf.
Closeup of the greenery.
STEP 8 – FINE TUNING
Time to critically look at the artwork and determine if any fine tuning needs to be done.
I darkened a few ruffles on some of the petals.
And I fine-tuned a cast shadow that had a band at the end that was slightly darker than the rest of the shadow. Once I was done it was uniformly colored.
Below is my final artwork next to the reference photo for comparison.
Obviously I modified the greenery, but like I’ve said to you, it’s your artwork so own it and I did. 🙂
This is the 3rd installment in my Wallflowers series, so this photo shows them grouped together. Todd said he can build a shadow box that I can arrange the flowers into, but I’ll have to burn a few more before we do that.
The Ranunculus family have around 500 different species that include buttercups and all of the species are considered toxic to cattle, horses, cats, and dogs. The toxin, ranunculin, can even cause skin irritations like burning and itching among humans. Per Awkward Botany’s website, the amount of toxin varies per plant species and plants are supposedly more potent in the spring.
The Ranunculus wallflower tutorial is done. I hope that you will try this artwork and that my explanations were clear and easy to follow. If you have a favorite type of flower let me know and I’ll try to include it in a future tutorial and give you credit for the idea.
Now to answer a couple of questions I get asked frequently. This artwork was burned on maple that measures 4 x 6 inches (10.2 x 15.2 cm) and it took me 6 1/4 hours to complete the artwork. That said this is not a race or contest. I only put how long a project takes me as I get asked that question right after I get asked, “how did you do that?”
Until the next blog,
Nov 3, 2017
Karen Dotson submitted this artwork and she did a fantastic job. The flower turned out great and there is a lot of depth to the flower! I love the highly textured background. Karen has a background in painting, but has more recently taken up pyrography. I’m just amazed with the artwork she is creating! Thank you for sharing with us, Karen!
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