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Halloween Skull Wood Burning Design

Halloween skull

One of my favorite images to burn is the Halloween skull. I love the way the burned marks give the skull image an aged and tarnished look. I also love the look of the various tonal values that you apply to the skull to give depth and dimension to your burning. In this tutorial, I will also provide you with a template that you can use to create your very own skull.

Let’s get started!

You will need:

  • Halloween skull template (found at the end of this article)
  • TRUArt pen
  • Carbon paper
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Magic eraser
  • Tape
  • Fine-sanded wood

 

Step 1:

Take your wood, template, carbon paper, pen and tape. Tape your paper to your wood and begin the tracing process. For instructions on how to complete this process, please refer to my previous post here.

Step 2:

Once everything has been transferred, start your shading process. I started in the nasal cavity. Be aware of where light will hit and cast shadows. I started working on the darker end and slowly lightened my shading as I moved up. This is not an easy skill to master. For shading tips, please view my shading tutorial here.

 

Step 3:

Once I completed the shading in the nasal region, I began the same process in the eye sockets of me Halloween skull. The template should be used as a guide to indicate where areas should be darkened. Don’t worry about your tracing being visible through the shading, you can remove those lines once your image has been completely burned.

 

Step 4:

Start shading around the jawline. Remember to burn in a light tone here. We do not want our darker tones to blend with the lighter. We need to decipher what parts of the image are further away than the rest or what area has more depth. The shading around the skull is only meant to indicate where the shadows lie.

 

Step 5:

Begin working your way up the skull. Notice the crack lines on the template. At a lower heat, trace the lines to show cracks on the skull. Be sure your heat is not too high or you will create splotches instead of crack lines. You can always increase your temperature if needed. Add more lines if you wish.

 

Step 6:

When outlining the skull, the shading should be a darker value around the top portion of the head. You still don’t want this to be a dark shade, just a tonal shade darker than the bottom of the skull. Slowly fill in the center of the skull with a lighter value as you go inward.

 

Step 7:

Once you have completely burnt your skull image, start burning the background. This is an extremely time consuming process. You will also need to use high heat so this step must be done with caution. An alternate option would be to use paint to fill in the blank space or just leave it untouched. I personally love the look of the background burned. If you choose to do this, start on one spot and work your way down keeping your strokes as uniform as possible. This prevents an uneven burn and makes the completed piece look more polished.

Now that your burning is complete, take a dampened magic eraser and erase the lines that are visible from your tracing.

I hope you have fun burning a skull of your own. Remember, this takes time and practice. You stick with this and it will get easier every time you try. I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Halloween.

 

See you next time,
Andrea Pate
Pate’s Pyrography

 

Template

 

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Understanding the Types of Pyrography Pens and Their Differences

Pyrography or woodburning, is an art medium rapidly gaining popularity especially in the United States and United Kingdom. This art medium involves the use of a heating device that resembles a large pen, which, when applied to wood surfaces, leaves distinctive burn marks. There are already many professional pyrography artists around and most of their work is truly astounding – many even life-like especially when a touch of color is added.

 

#patespyro
“Frankenstein” from Pate’s Pyrography

 

As more and more budding artists join the pyrography band wagon, many do not know what to start off with or know about the differences among the many pens sold out there. This then poses a problem for many who nevertheless went ahead, bought a pen (usually convinced by online reviews) and are either stuck on how to use them properly or end up destroying the tool altogether. To address that and a few other key issues, let’s compare the two types of pyrography pens, the solid-point burners and the wire-nib burners.

 

TRUArt 15-30 W Pyrography Pen
Solid-point pyrography pen

TRUArt 60W Woodburning Detailer
Wire-nib pyrography pen

 

 

Tip / Nib

Solid-point burner – This type of pen usually requires a screw-in tip although some very few designs in the market feature non-screw tips held in place by a sleeve and a nut. Care should be taken when purchasing extra tips as they can vary in thread type. TRUArt pyrography pens use M4 X 0.7 tips. This means that the thread is 4 mm in diameter with a 0.7 mm thread pitch. These tips are screwed in tightly by hand and usually finished off with 1/8th to 1/4 of a turn using a pair of pliers.

Wire-nib burner – This type of pen holds wire tips usually made from Ni-chrome wire of varying gauges. The wires are either inserted into collets or held in place by screws tightened unto them. TRUArt’s 60 W Professional Woodburning Detailer can accept 20 to 16 GA wire tips.

 

Heat transfer

Solid-point burners create heat by means of a heating element within the pen that is then transferred to the tip and operate at a fixed temperature.

Wire-nib burners create heat on the nibs by electric current going through it. The collets or wire nib holders should never be shorted.

 

Solid-point burner Wire-nib burner
Pros Cons Pros Cons
Cheaper than Wire-nib burners

Wide selection of patterned and stamp tips

Brass tips conducts heat faster and retains it longer than other metals

Easy screw-in and unscrewing of tips (only do this when unit is cold!)

Variable heat output (TRUArt 15 W – 30 W pens)

Ergonomic handle with anti-slip rubber

Ventilation holes and double heat sinks to dissipate heat away from hands

Price is great for beginners in pyrography

No separate power supply

No danger of shorting out the pen

Brass becomes soft when heated. Oftentimes, beginners tend to put too much pressure on it instead of letting the heat do the work. This bends the softened brass tip, which leads to breakage – leaving the screw inside the pen and rendering it useless.

Long waiting period for hot tips to cool down enough for unscrewing/replacement

Long waiting period (3-5 mins) for tips to heat up sufficiently

Only two power settings – 15 Watts and 30 Watts

Cannot create customized tips

Hands are farther away from work surface than Wire-nib burners

Tips may become lose within pen when heated. This will require further tightening with pliers (about 1/8 to 1/4 of a turn)

Nibs heat up much faster (less than 1 minute) than Solid-point tips

Fast cool down

Easy inserting and removal of nibs

Nibs stay tight inside collets even at the pen’s highest voltage setting

Wide selection of nib shapes and sizes

Easily create customized nibs from a roll of Ni-chrome wire

Very close distance between hand and work surface

Digital power supply allows very fine tuning of heat output on the tips, which allows for superior control over burn

Pen is smaller and lighter than Solid-point burners

Non-slip ribber handles

Can accept 20 GA to 16 GA (0.8 mm to 1.25 mm diameter) nibs

Ni-chrome wire nibs do not break easily when pressure is applied

Preferred by professionals

More expensive than Solid-point burners

Nib selection does not have big patterns or stamps like the Solid-point burner tips

Bulky power supply

Burner can get almost uncomfortably hot if voltage is too high and heat on the nib is not used fast enough

Danger of shortening the burner if the collets are directly connected to each other by any metal object

Skill in using voltage setting to get the required heat has to be developed

 

Ultimately, when selecting a woodburning or pyrography pen, you will first have to consider what you intend to do. Figure out if you could see yourself doing this occasionally or often. If you’re just starting out in the art of pyrography and do not know what kind of pyrography pen will suit you, you’re safe if you start with the Solid-point burner. Later on, once you’re more confident in the art and start investing long hours into it, you may want to consider upgrading to the more robust and industrial strength of the Wire-nib burner.

If you still want to know more, simply share your thoughts or questions through the comments below and we’ll answer them within the day.

 

 

 

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Woodburning Workshop 2 – More to Learn!

Another big “CONGRATULATIONS” to Andrea Pate on her second successful Pyrography Workshop at Stache Studios on September 29, 2018!

Once again, Andrea Pate, a very accomplished artist in art mediums such as portrait artistry and polymer clay modelling, has managed to spread the word about pyrography in downtown Griffin.  As her plan to continue on the workshop on Seasonal  Designs, all her attendees with big satisfied grins and new home decors.

 

 

“Leave a permanent impression with pyrography”
Andrea Pate

We at TRUArt are proud to be a part of Andrea’s endeavors to teach others of the easy and fun-loaded art of pyrography or wood burning. The pyrography pens used in this workshop and the one before that were predominantly our (Stage 1) Wood and Leather Pyrography Pen. The artist herself has our robust 60 W Professional Woodburning Detailer.

We can’t wait to check out what next season’s theme is going to be permanently burned into wood again!

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Woodburning Workshop – The Giant Leap Towards Learning Pyrography!

The TRUArt family extends its biggest “CONGRATULATIONS” to Andrea Pate for successfully hosting her first Pyrography Workshop at Stache Studios last August 18, 2018 and has effectively opened the doors to many budding artists looking for a unique and fun way to express their creativity!

Stache Studios, the go-to place in Downtown Griffin for learning various forms of art medium such as painting, ceramics, mosaics and clay works, graciously welcomed Andrea’s suggestion to include a new form of artwork – pyrography. With Andrea’s long history and connection to art since childhood, coupled with more than two years of pyrography experience, she deftly introduced and guided everyone into the practically new art world of wood burning. Needless to say, all workshop attendees left with proud smiles and their finished projects. Just check out the pictures below!

Andrea understands that pyrography isn’t a medium that is well known in the field of arts. In fact, she did not imagine herself hosting any workshop about it at all – being contented with creating beautiful pyrogrphy art work and selling them. That changed when we started commissioning her to create tutorials for us using our wood burning pens. In one of the tutorials, she was teaching some children how to create wood burnings for their loved ones. Watching their excitement in the process got her curious about creating classes for adults. She wanted to expose as many people to this art form as she could. Thinking of ways to get pyrography out there, she came across her local art studio. Although Stache Studio provides customers with amazing pottery and painting classes, she realized they didn’t have any on woodburning. In fact, there just aren’t many places around where one could learn Pyrography.

“Leave a permanent impression with pyrography”
Andrea Pate

 

Jessica, owner of Stache Studios, loved Andrea’s idea and immediately went to work to get things rolling while the artist provided the tools she got from TRUArt. After the resounding success of her first workshop, the artist was thrilled to see the excitement others were going through learning something she was passionate about. She feels very fortunate to have the opportunity to teach people pyrography and plans to continue sharing her expertise with more classes. As of this writing, she’s been busy creating seasonal designs for her workshop that customers can display every month of the year in their homes. It definitely doesn’t look like she plans to slow down one bit seeing that workshops are powerful tools to get the needed exposure to the art as people are starting to become familiar with it and with what she does.

 

To those who have yet to touch a pyrography pen or to those who think they don’t have the creativity for it, here’s what Andrea has to say about it:

“DO not to give up. If it’s something you’re not good at, that’s all the more reason to keep going. It will get easier and you’ll learn what works for you along the way. If it’s something you are passionate about then never give up.

It’s amazing what you can learn and how you can improve in such a short time frame. I look back at where I started and to where I’m at today and there is such a huge difference. I’m excited to see how much I will continue to grow and improve over the course of this year.”

 

We at TRUArt couldn’t have said it better, Andrea. We’re so glad and honored to be a part of your achievements in the wonderful world of pyrography. Thank you!