In this tutorial I’m going to explain how to create the Halloween Pumpkin Tree pyrography artwork. This was artwork I did last year to participate in a YouTube challenge. I had not participated in a challenge before, so thought I’d try it. Since the challenge was issued in October and was supposed to feature a pumpkin, I created a Halloween scene.
Click on the image to the left to watch a YouTube video version of the tutorial. I must warn you that I did my impersonation of Bob Ross in the video to celebrate the Halloween. While it’s not a very good impression of Bob Ross I do hope you’ll find it entertaining.
Now, let’s get to work.
SKILL LEVEL: 2
- Writing tip
- Shading tip
- 8 x 8 inch (20.3 x 20.3 cm) piece of wood
- Pattern (enlarge or shrink as needed) Pumpkin Tree pattern
STEP 1 – PREP THE WOOD
Let the board dry and then sand again.
This piece of plywood board is broken up into three sections. The far left section is how the board looks without any prep work. The board has a rough texture. The middle section of the board shows how it looks after it was sanded, and the surface is a lot smoother. The right section of the board shows it after it was lightly misted with water and allowed to dry. Notice how rough the board looks, but a quick sanding will remove that and leave an ultra-smooth board.
Doing the 4-step process (sand, mist, dry, sand) produces a super smooth surface, and the smoother the surface is the better the burn results will be.
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.
STEP 3 – BURN THE OUTLINE
Make sure the heat is low on your burner and firmly burn over the spider. The heat of the pen tip will help the pen tip sink down into the surface of the wood. The low heat ensures the burn mark will not have any color to them.
It might be easier to use an embossing ball stylus pen with a small tip. This way you can exert a lot of pressure to get some really deep lines. Here’s a link to the set shown in the picture: Embossing Tools
STEP 4 – THE BATS
STEP 5 – THE PUMPKIN HEAD
Use a writer pen tip and burn along the bottom edge of each branch of the stem. Also burn a dark line along the left edge of the stem. Keep in mind the image is upside-down, so it looks like the top and right edge in the photo.
Switch to a shader pen tip and burn in each segment on the left side of the pumpkin. The right side of each segment should be darker than the left. I am primarily using uniform strokes as my burn method.
Also the bottom of the pumpkin should be darker than the top. Make sure to rotate the board as needed so your pen tip is in optimal position when burning along edges. This will keep the edges crisp and clean.
When you get to the right half of the pumpkin (looks like the left side in the photo since it’s upside-down) the shading reverses. This means that the left side of each segment should be darker than the right.
Some angles might be easier to burn in than others. My board has a horizontal grain line and it’s often easier to burn with the grain than across it. This phenomenon seems a lot more noticeable with plywood and that’s what I’m burning on.
Burn darkly around the eye openings, and then lightly burn in the pupils. Make sure you are happy with the placement of the pupils before burning them in. I tried to make sure the pupils were oriented towards the little kid.
Now use the shader of your choice and burn in the forehead. We are shifting the shadows with this ground of 3 segments from the right to the left. So make the left side darker than the right for these three. Also darken up just above the eye openings to create eyebrows. Granted they are eyebrows of an odd sort.
As you can see I extended the dark color under the eyes stopping once I was even with the pupils. Burn in the rest of the face so it matches the color on the highlighted side (right) of the brow segments.
Burn along the bottom of the nostrils to darken the area a bit. Don’t burn it as dark as the area between the eyes. The added color along the bottom of the nose will further help the top of the nose appear elevated from the surface of the board.
Since I’ve got the board rotated, I’m using pull-away strokes as my burn method. Pull-away strokes start darker than they end, so this produces gradient shading. Plus I find that pull-away strokes work best if you have a clear line to start the stroke on, and I do in this situation.
It’s always interesting to me how the color or darkness level of the pumpkin seems to change depending on how the light is striking the board.
STEP 6 – THE TREE BODY
Then switch to a shader and use the flat of the shader and burn over the spider. This is the point where you discover if the embossed lines are deep enough to show up. Mine were too shallow, so I had to carefully burn around the spider.
If you want to get fancy you can include a cast shadow of the reaching arm. I debated about creating a cast shadow for the left arm, but decided it was behind the pumpkin head. You may or may not agree, so it’s up to you if you want to create a cast shadow.
I do literally mean that the coloring was the very last thing I did. Always add color after you are done burning regardless of the color medium. Some of the ingredients that are used to create different colors are toxic when vaporized. The heat from a pen tip is enough to create vapors.
STEP 7 – THE CHILD
I lost some video files, so don’t have clips from the skin and hair. With the skin burn it to the uniform color of your choice. I went with a light to medium tan color to contrast with the outfit, but any color would work as long as it is noticeably different from the tunic.
The hair is created by burning an assortment of different color thick lines. The lines are burned so they radiate outward from the center back of the head. I used the shader for this. I angled the shader to vary how much metal was in contact with the wood and this created lines of different thicknesses.
This project is at its conclusion. I hope you enjoyed it and found the corresponding Bob Ross Halloween video amusing.
Now to answer a couple of questions I get asked frequently. This artwork was burned on birch plywood that measures 8 x 8 inches (20.3 x 20.3 cm). It took me 3 1/2 hours to complete the artwork.
Until the next blog,
Oct 27, 2020
Want to subscribe?
- Click on the “Leave a Comment” field at the end of any post (blog) and a subscribe option will appear.
- Put something in the comment field (if you put “test” or “just subscribing” I won’t make your comment public)
- Fill in the sections for your email address and name, and then click on the “notify me of new posts via email.”
- You will get a confirmation email from WordPress confirming you want to subscribe.
- Click on the confirm button in that email and you’re done.
Please note that I do not send out emails. If you have a WordPress account there is a way to subscribe within the WordPress system, but I cannot provide specifics on how it works as I don’t know.