Pyrography Challenge 3 (Sept 19, 2021)

This is the last of the weekly challenges.  This challenge features the Yawning Jaguar.   I had started this artwork with the intention of turning into a tutorial, but during the course of creating the artwork I decided against that.  The reason is the reference photo isn’t awesome, and the mouth was a bit complex.  That said, don’t let that stand in your way with this challenge because I think you can handle it!

Click the link to get pdf pattern for the jaguar:  Yawning Jaguar pattern

Here’s the reference photo.  I did mention that the reference photo wasn’t awesome, and I wasn’t lying about that.   

The artwork is part of my continued testing of cradleboards.  I wanted each cradleboard to feature a different big cat.   I try to use photos that either Todd or I have taken because I don’t want to worry about copyright issues.   Since I don’t have that many pictures of big cats to choose from, this not so great image made the cut.  



My best advice to you is to treat this jaguar the same way I did with the jaguar that I made a three-part series with.   Click on the image to the left to watch the part 1.  The first installment explains how to break the image down into its key elements.  The concepts presented can be easily adapted to this project.




Part 2 covers some concepts to add a bit more of 3D appearance to the jaguar.  The concepts presented can be used on this jaguar. 

To summarize the essence, you mark your highlight with a white charcoal pencil.  Then burn around the charcoal letting the color get gradually darker the further away you are. 



The artwork started out just like part one of the jaguar series; I burned in the dark spots on the jaguar.   Then I started to lightly block in the orange fur.   

I recommend using a writer pen tip to burn in the dark spots.  The small tip allows you to be precise and it’s easier to use than a shader.   I had the heat set on my burner to dark a medium to dark brown burn result.  I didn’t have the heat up so high that I created gouges into the wood with the pen tip.  





The other thing I want to mention is that I started out using the zigzag stroke to create the fur texture.  Given the small size of the image, I quickly gave up and used the flat of the shader and burned uniform strokes.  I also used some circular motion to burn in the orange fur. 






This photo shows more of the dark markings burned in.  I won’t lie, it felt like there were several thousand marks to deal with.  I know the number of markings wasn’t anywhere close to that number, but it seemed like a lot!








I will admit that burning in dark spots is very monotonous.  You don’t realize how many spots there are until you’re burning them in!  I would burn for as long as I could stand it, and then do something else.   

At this point in the artwork I was still thinking about making a tutorial out of it, so that’s why I concentrated on getting the spots done.   I wanted to be able to present the information in stages; burn the markings, burn the orange fur, etc.   That plan didn’t work out, but it did for the Jaguar tutorial that I provided a link to near the top of this blog.





Now the spots are done, and the next thing I started on was blocking in the darker shadowed areas on the cat’s body.   Again, the reference photo isn’t that awesome, but examined the cast shadow on the front left leg.  This will help you identify where the sun is positioned. 

I think the sun is positioned above and slightly to the left of the Jaguar.  I also think the sun is in front of the jaguar versus directly overhead or behind.     






You might be able to see the white charcoal in a few places on this photo.   Looking at the photo I will have to admit that I placed my highlights in the wrong spot in several places.  Oh well.  I think overall the artwork still turned out decently and I doubt anyone will pay that much attention to details of this nature.

I placed the jaguar on the board so that it hangs diagonally on the wall.  This matches what I’ve done with most of the other cradleboards in this series.   

As I mentioned before, the charcoal marks the location of a highlight.  This will be the palest spot in the area.   Do not use a white colored pencil for this.  Colored pencils contain wax and will melt and char under the heat of the pen tip. 

White charcoal, on the other hand, will resist the heat of the pen helping protect the underlying wood from burning.   Don’t leave the charcoal on the wood for more than a couple of hours.  The longer it’s on the board, the harder it is to remove all traces of it.

Now the charcoal is gone and you can see the resulting highlights.  At this point they need to be burned over to soften the transition between them and the adjacent fur.  Another reason they need to be burned over is that they look like white markings.   





The re-burning process takes me a bit of time to do.   I probably burned 4-5 layers of fur or color before I was happy with the overall darkness level.   






It is always interesting to me how the orientation of the wood can impact how the burning looks.  In this photo the board is oriental in a vertical direction instead of the diagonally direction of the last photo.  For some reason the fur looks lighter in color in this photo.  If anything I had probably added another layer or two of color.   

The big change in this photo is that I’ve started on the tree.   I used a long zigzag stroke to give the tree a rough texture and uniform strokes to give it color.   





Continued work on the tree. 









The tree is almost done and you can see I’m working on burning in the frame around the border of the board.  The tree, just like the jaguar, was re-burned over to dark and give it shape.  The shadowed areas received more re-burning than the rest of the tree did.   

If you are curious about the wooden device holding the artwork in place, it is nothing more than a piece of plywood with a 90 degree angle cut out of it.




This image is a close up of the whiskers.  I had carved or scraped them into existence before I started burning.  Once I was done burning the dark area around the mouth I had to re-scrape some of the whiskers back into existence.   






The very, very last thing I did was use a burnt umber Polychromos colored pencil and colored in the background below the jaguar.   This was to provide contrast with the white fur and to help the whiskers show up.


That’s it for this week’s challenge.  I hope you try this and have fun.


Sept 19, 2021


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2 thoughts on “Pyrography Challenge 3 (Sept 19, 2021)

    1. Hi Shirley,
      I didn’t take many progress photos of this artwork. Plus I haven’t gone through the video files to get photos from it. That’s why I recommended approaching this challenge using similar steps as the 3-part jaguar tutorial I created.

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