In this blog I’m going to explain how to create the Happy Angel Snowlady artwork that I did. The artwork is based on a drawing by Happy Angels Drawings. I loved the cute and whimsical nature of the drawing, so I wanted it to be a part of my Christmas Postcard series. In this blog I will explain both how to do the pyrography portion of the artwork, but also walk you through the coloring process.
Happy Angel had entered my 2019 Draw It / Win it contest. Her drawing wasn’t the winning drawing, but I loved it so much I incorporated it into the series anyway. What’s the difference between the winner and this drawing? I finished and shipped out the artwork on the winning drawing in 2019. With this project I didn’t even start working on until sometime in 2020. Other than the timeframe that I got the work done there isn’t a difference between the official winner and this one.
Here is the drawing by Happy Angel. Be aware that this is the pattern for the artwork. I didn’t see the point in printing out the drawing and scanning it to create a pdf file when the photo works just as well.
Now, let’s get burning.
SKILL LEVEL: 2
- Writing tip
- Shading tip
- 4 x 6 inch (10.2 x 15.2 cm) piece of wood
- Embossing Tool
- Pattern – note that the pattern is the photograph of the drawing. It is near the top of this blog.
- Colored Pencils (optional)
Embossing tools are also called ball stylus tools. They have a grip with metal prongs at either end and they come in an assortment of sizes. Here’s a link to a set on Amazon: Embossing
- Light Yellow Glaze – 9201
- Black Cherry – pc1078 (optional)
- Greyed Lavender – pc1026
- Lilac – pc956
- Process Red – pc994
- White – pc938
- Yellow Ochre – pc942
Pearl Ex metallic pigments:
- Pearl White
- Sparkle Gold
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 – BACKGROUND
To clean it just rub over the wood numerous times with a clean paper towel.
Then use a writer pen tip and burn over the trace lines. Make sure to rub an eraser over the area once you are done to remove any residual graphite. Yes, you could have done the previous step after this one was done.
I first burn a thick band of color along the edges of the snowlady. This creates a buffer zone and allows me to burn the background faster because I don’t have to burn right up to the edge of the snowlady.
I’m using uniform strokes as my burn method. I work small sections at a time and overlap the strokes to get smoother looking burn results. Keep in mind it can be difficult to get smooth burn results, so don’t get stressed out if your background is a bit blotchy. If you are burning on plywood, like I am, I think it is even harder to get smooth uniform burn results.
If you have more than one size of shader, it can be handy to use a smaller one when burning in areas with little room. This makes it easier to avoid accidentally burning over the lines on the branches.
In the really small areas I used a writer pen tip to burn in the background. It is not as smooth looking as what I shader produces, but there is so much going on where I’m burning that no one will notice.
STEP 3 – THE FACE and HAT
If needed, use the edge of a sharp knife to scrape away any over burn on the highlights. When scraping, I like to place a finger on the non cutting edge to help keep the blade from flexing. This gives me a bit more control with the scraping.
Next, burn short pull-away strokes along the lower edge of the hat. Start the stroke on the dark line and pull it towards the opposite side of the hat. Stop the stroke a short distance from its starting point.
Rotate the board so you are pulling the pen tip towards yourself. I did not do this because the board I’m burning on has a high rounded point making it hard to keep vertical when rotated in that direction.
STEP 4 – THE BODY, MITTENS, and SCARF
Then burn pull-away strokes that start on the outer edge of the fingers and pull then pen towards the face. Stop the stroke a short distance before reaching the seam. This will leave a small area of lighter color to help differentiate between the fingers and palm.
I am using a combination of circular motion and uniform strokes as my burn methods. Circular motion is my primary burn method.
Then burn in the lower portion of the body using circular motion. In fact I used circular motion for the majority of the snow. Occasionally I used uniform strokes, but usually just in areas next to a clearly defined line.
STEP 5 – THE STARS
Start with the little star clinging to the left puffball. Begin by burning in the nose and irises to a dark brown or black color. Also, if needed, re-burn the line around the eyes to make sure they show up well.
STEP 6 – THE SNOW
It would look good to burn along the bottom of the board. I did not do this, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t. It would also look good to burn over all of the snow so that it is slightly darker than the snowlady. This would help keep the focus on her.
STEP 7 – THE BRANCHES
STEP 8 – ADDING COLOR
Lastly, let’s add some color to the artwork. Keep in mind that you do not have to add color. Also I will point out that while I used colored pencils, you can use watercolors, markers, or the coloring medium of your choice. I feel more comfortable with pencils than I do paint brushes, so I tend to avoid anything that requires using a paint brush.
Be aware that after applying color to an area, I rub over the color with a blending stump or tortillion to smooth out the color. You can also use a clean paper towel for this. I don’t show photos of this step, but it is something you should do to get smoother looking color.
I also applied lilac to the fluffy trim and the small hanging puff balls on the hat. Looking back I think it looks better without color and wish I hadn’t done this step. Or at the very least I wish I had erased the color from the board.
As you can see I also colored the puffballs, but I’ll discuss that ugly mess at the end of this step.
The eraser I used is called Vanish. It is a bit more abrasive than a standard pencil eraser, but nowhere near as gritty or abrasive as an ink pen or sand eraser. I’ve found that this eraser works very well for removing colored pencil and stubborn pencil marks from wood.
Here’s a link to the eraser on Amazon: Vanish
I will tell you right now that the eraser is much cheaper on Jerry’s Artarama; especially if you buy the 4 pack: Jerry’s Vanish
THE UGLY MESS
Now let’s talk about the ugly mess I made of my puffballs. I started out using the lilac color over the puffballs. I concentrated the color in the same areas as the wide tan band of color, but most of the puffballs got a layer of color. I immediately disliked the addition of color. The reason is that I thought it made the puffballs look dingy. The lilac made it look like a layer of grey had been applied to the puffballs.
The very last thing I did was add a touch of pearlescent glaze to the stars and snowlady. I have the board angled so you can see the iridescent glow it has when the light strikes it at the right angle.
The orange arrow is pointing to the small amount of glaze that I mixed up. Even though that is a very small amount I still tossed most of it as it doesn’t take much.
This blog is coming to an end. I hope you liked the artwork, and will try it for yourself. Happy Angel’s drawing was just adorable and I had so much fun creating a pyrography version of her drawing. I really think that Happy Angel creates such cute whimsical drawings that radiate happiness.
To answer some common questions I get. The scene was burned on birch plywood that measures 4 x 6 inches (10.2 x 15.2 cm). It took me 4 ½ hours to create the artwork.
Until the next blog,
Dec 1, 2020
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