Old Truck Pyrography Art wood burning

The Old Truck artwork is probably the most challenging pyrography art I have done to date.  This truck has a lot of complex parts like the grille, and the spoked rubber tires, and the wood paneled sides.   As I don’t have a clue what sort of truck this really is, I resorted to calling it the Old Truck.  What caught my attention were those very unique features like the spoked wheels and the wooden cab sides; I loved the assorted textures!    I spotted the truck while in Silverton, Colorado looking for the Christ of the Mines statue.  Todd and I are pretty sure the truck was used to haul the train tourist around town and maybe up to the statue.   We didn’t get a chance to find out as the train hadn’t arrived while we were there.  This blog is going to discuss my Old Truck pyrography art creation.   

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




When I transferred the image to the wood, I started to get an idea of how complex some of the parts were; like the wheels.






I burned in the trace lines on the easy stuff first.






Using a knife pen tip on the grille made burning that in a breeze.  The knife tip is a fairly new addition to my small list of regularly used pen tips.  It is awesome for burning in really thin straight lines (or mostly straight) and I’m still learning how to control it to make curved lines. This tip is made by Colwood and they call it a rounded heel, but I prefer knife tip as it reminds me of my X-acto knife.



With the grille and trace lines burned in, I started edging the black engine compartment. 







I often edge around shapes that get burned in dark to create a buffer zone.  I do this to help with speed and precision.  I burn the edges slowly to keep the edges sharp and precise and then, when that part is done, I turn up the heat and fill in using a much faster hand stroke.




Continued work on the black metal.









In this photo you can see that I’ve started bouncing around the project working on different spots, but mostly concentrating on the lower part of the truck. 





I love using white charcoal pencils to define highlights.  The charcoal makes it really easy to see where the highlight needs to be and the charcoal resists the heat of the pen.   Keep in mind, it only resists the heat.  If you burn over it the wood will darken, but it won’t be as dark as it would be without a protective charcoal layer.




With the highlight marked, I burn around the charcoal. 






Here I’m darkly burning on the hood of the car right next to the charcoal line.  









The hood is mostly done and the charcoal has been erased, but I’m still burning carefully around the different areas I used charcoal on.   





In this photo I’ve gotten all of the ultra black metal on the hood burned in and the reflections defined.  What I’m currently doing is reducing the contrast (burning over) some of the reflection spots.

I love the optical illusion that extreme contrast creates; the reflection streak on the hood looks brighter than the nearby wood, but in reality it’s the same color. 



Working on the right fender.







Starting to burn in the underside of the left fender.





Continued work on the left fender.









Starting on the left headlight.  I was impressed with how my headlights turned out.





 They ended up being a little lopsided or off kilter, but I was still impressed that they looked like headlights.






Here I’m adding some color to the grille as it was a touch darker along the edges.






Continued work on the grille.  The actual truck had dark grille work, but I liked the look of the silver better.  Plus it helped the bumper stand out.





I’m working on the right tire.  I had already burned in the dark cast shadow from the fender, but now I’m starting to discover how much fine detail the tires have.





The tire has been colored a uniform color and I’m burning the metal bumper. 







Now I’m adding some of the fine details like the cast shadows from the bumper and the deep tread along the top of the tire.







I was often switching between the shader and a micro writer while working on the fine tire detail.  In this photo I’m using the writer to burn in the tread along the sides of the wheel.






With this tire, the spokes were easy to burn in as they were all in shadows, so I could simply burn in dark lines and be done with them.







Cast shadows burned in under the tire and now I’m working on the tire rim.  Sorry if I’m spending too much time talking about the tire, but I’m trying to give you an idea of how much fine detail work went into creating them.






Continued work.








In this photo I’m burning in the tread on the left tire.  The right tire isn’t completely done, but I needed a break.  For me it takes a lot of concentration to get this level of detail accomplished; especially since I’m not that familiar with car parts.  I had to frequently check my reference photo to make sure I was portraying the truck accurately.



Here I’ve switched to working on the side stepping board to prolong my break from the detail intensive areas.






Break over and I’m back to working on the metal bumper attachment rod. 







And back to working on the tire.









Continued work on the right tire.







Working on the axle or whatever the wheel is attached to.  And, as you can see in this photo, I’ve also burned in quite a bit of the metal support bars under the truck.






Burning in the cast shadow on the ground was one of the easy things to do.





Working on the bumper.









  Continued work on the bumper.









Finishing the cast shadow under the truck.  Shadows provide a lot of realism and help convey the three dimensional look this artwork has.  In fact, this statement applies to all artwork.




Working on the cast shadow on the left side.






I started to work on the front left tire and quickly decided that it was going to be a lot more work than the right tire was.  The reason was that part of the tire was in the sun and it had all sorts of shadows to deal with.  Plus some of the spokes were in the sun and I wasn’t sure how best to deal with them.




So I moved on and finished up the cast shadow under the truck instead.






Next I switched to the micro writer to add in the last of the fine detail on the right tire area.







Adding the last of the little details to the bumper.  My X-acto knife got a good workout with the artwork too.  I used it to scrape out metal edges and tiny highlights.




I’m back to working on the left tire and slowly starting to define the area around the spokes.






I switched to the back tire as it had less stuff to contend with.








Plus I could test out ideas on how to burn in the spoke that were in the sunlight.   In this photo I’ve got them marked with white charcoal.





I’m burning slow and very carefully around the spokes.  This was one of those very challenging areas of this project!








I eventually had to switch to the writing pen tip to burn the small areas behind the spokes.








Finishing up the back tire. 







I had worked a bit more on the front left tire, but of the three it was the most challenging.  So I worked on the leather seats to get a break from the tire.




Here I’m working on the truck roof.  The truck was completely open on the sides with the exception of the front windshield.








Continued work on the seats.






Starting on the roof wood around the windshield.








Continued work on the wood around the windshield.  Maybe you figured out that I’m postponing working on the last tire as long as I can.







Adding the shadows to the bracers.








Adding the tiny screws heads.






Working on the wooden support beams.





The roof had curved supports to hold the wood planks in place.









Continued work.








It was at this point I ran into a dilemma.  I wasn’t sure how to convey the sense of looking through glass.  At first I just left the wood behind the windshield paler in color.







While I let my brain ponder how to handle the glass, I moved onto the sides of the truck.






The sides had recessed wood panels with raised grid framework that looked mostly decorative to me.






Each section had to be burned individually as it had cast shadows and raised frame work.






But in comparison to working on the tires, the side of the truck was easy.









I decided that I liked the idea of making the wood paler behind the windshield, so I finished up the last of the wood roof and support beam.








Now I’m adding fine details like making sure panel edges were well defined.






And that the sides of the support beams were different colors.






Lastly, I’m finishing up the metal support brackets.






At this point the only thing left for me to do is the front left tire.  I couldn’t put it off any longer. 






Continued work on the tire defining the area around the spokes.








Burning some of the spokes a little darker, so they don’t look like they are in the sun.







Working on the axel thing.








Using an X-acto knife to scratch out some of the spokes that I accidently burned over.  This happened more often than I care to admit, but those spokes are thin.





Using the micro writer to add the last of the wheel details like the lug nuts.








 In theory I was done with the artwork, but I still wasn’t completely satisfied with the windshield.   One thing I LOVE about pyrography is that I can use a pencil to sketch in ideas on the artwork.  This gives me a chance to see how it might look if I burned it in.  I can’t do this with a pencil drawing!





Here’s how the windshield looked after I was done drawing streaks on it with a pencil.








I still wasn’t happy, so I erased the pencil along the windshield wiper path. This is how it looked after I did that and I liked how it looked.  It conveyed the idea of a windshield much better than what I had there before.







So I burned it in.







The last thing I did was scratch in some long highlights on the glass.  This meant scratching on the “wood” behind the glass to convey the light streak.








 Here’s the finished truck.







This is my source photo.






Looking at the reference photo and comparing it to the artwork I created, what do you think?  I made some obvious changes like the ‘silver’ front grille and the wood isn’t very weathered.  About the only thing that I think I should have done was to make the wood a touch darker.



The old truck is one of the most complicated and difficult items I’ve burned thus far.  The spoked wheels were very difficult for me to create and while I was working on them I seriously wondered if I was going to be able to finish this project.  Ironically the wheels are my favorite part of the artwork as I love the contrast and texture the wheels possess.  Despite the difficulties I experienced my persistence paid off as I think this artwork turned out very well.   Though I will have to admit that I wouldn’t rush out do another one anytime soon.

I love hearing from you, the reader.  What do you think?  What’s the most challenging thing you’ve worked on?

Lastly to answer a few commonly asked questions.   The artwork measures 9 by 12 inches (22.9 x 30.5 cm), was burned on basswood, and it took me 18 3/4 hours to complete it.  

Until the next blog,


Nov 10, 2017

2 thoughts on “Old Truck Pyrography Art wood burning

    1. Hi Ryn! Thank you so much. The tires on this one were extremely challenging. Tested out lots of techniques on this one. One day I’ll remember to test out my ideas on a piece of scrap wood. Brenda

I love hearing from you, so leave a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.