In the world of wood burning, pyrography shading techniques are a highly sought after skill. Shading allows you to create depth and dimension in your wood burning projects, and can really make them pop.
With shading, you can manipulate the viewer’s perception of the depth of your project, and make it look more realistic. You can even use shading to create an entirely different effect, such as an antique or vintage look.
But like any other art form, pyrography shading techniques take time to master.
In this article, we’ll share with you five of the best tips for shading in pyrography so that you can take your wood burning projects to the next level. From choosing the right type of wood to investing in a quality shader tip, these tips will help you get the most out of your pyrography shading.
Article At A Glance:
- Wood Choice and Prep
- Invest In and Use a Quality Shader Tip
- Use Low Heat While Shading
- Keep Your Tip Moving and Use a Circular Motion While Shading
- Go Over the Shading Area Over and Over to Build Up to the Color You Want
Remember Your Safety!
As with any pyrography project, it’s important to remember safety first. Remember the safety tips that you should follow before and during each project:
- Always use a safe work surface
- Wear a mask to prevent smoke inhalation
- Make sure there is adequate ventilation in the area; a fan really helps
Are you ready to learn how to shade like a pro? Let’s get started!
5 Pyrography Shading Techniques
1. Use The Right Wood & Prep It
When it comes to pyrography shading techniques, everything depends on the wood you use. And for shading, you’ll want to use light-colored wood like basswood.
Basswood is hands-down the best wood for pyrography projects, and that includes shading. Basswood is a softwood, so it’s easy to work with and manipulate. It also has a very tight grain, which helps to prevent the wood from burning too quickly.
You can find basswood at most craft stores, and it’s a relatively inexpensive wood to work with. There are even retailers online that can sell you basswood, which is great if you do a lot of pyrography projects.
Prepping Your Wood
Make sure to sand your wood until it’s buttery smooth. A smooth surface is key in learning pyrography shading techniques.
Use a 220 grit (ultra fine) sandpaper or higher. Some pyro artists go up to 800 grit or more. There comes a time when it becomes about personal preference, so it will take some experimenting before you get a combo you prefer. In the meantime, use at least a 220 grit sandpaper and sand the wood until the surface is extremely.
New canvases have a lot of fine wood fragments that can hinder the shading capabilities. Sanding the wood makes it much easier for the metal tip to glide across the surface. It also enhances the ability to achieve a more consistent tonal value.
I use an orbital sander from dewalt with 220 grit pads and I sand each surface for about 20 – 30 minutes to reach the desired smoothness.
2. Invest In and Use a Quality Shader Tip
Once you have the right wood and it’s prepped, it’s time to get to work on your pyrography project! The next critical step is to invest in a quality shader tip.
A lot of people try to use the same tip for both drawing and shading, but this just doesn’t work well. The tips are actually very different, and you get much better results if you use the right one for the job at hand.
Shader tips have a flat edge, allowing you to create consistent shading tonal values.
Most pyrography kits comes with a shader tip whether is a brass tip or wire tip kit. However, you can find shader tips at most craft stores or online retailers that sell pyrography supplies.
3. Use Low Heat While Shading
The next tip for learning pyrography shading techniques is using low heat while working. Knowing how to manage the heat of your pyrography tool is critical for creating beautiful shading.
If you use too much heat, the wood will burn too quickly and you won’t be able to create the desired effect. Use too little heat, and the tones you create will be too faint and won’t show up well on the wood.
It’s important to experiment with the heat settings on your pyrography tool, and find the sweet spot that works best for you. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to use a lower heat setting for shading and then build up to the tonal value you desire.
4. Keep Your Tip Moving and Use a Circular Motion
Great shading comes from consistent, even motion. The best way to achieve this is to keep your pyrography tip moving at all times while you’re shading.
To get the best results, use a circular motion while you’re shading. This will help to create consistent shading values that are more even.
It might take some practice to get the hang of it, but once you do you’ll be able to create beautiful shading in your pyrography projects. It may take some time to get the hang of it, but it’s definitely worth it!
Practice on scrap wood and create gradients from dark to light shades. This is a great way to experiment with shading.
Here’s a great flower petal shading video I put together on YouTube.
5. Go Over the Shading Area Repeatedly
If you want to achieve a darker color in your shading, you’ll need to go over the area multiple times. This may seem like a time-consuming task, but just takes time and practice to master.
Simply go over the area again and again with your pyrography tool until you reach the tone you want. Repeat this process as many times as necessary until you reach the desired color.
This is why pyrography shading takes a long, long time. It’s not a quick process. I’ve burned projects that have taken up to 12 hours and some artists spend lots more time than that. The more detail and tones you add, the longer it takes.
Practice Makes Perfect
The best way to perfect your pyrography shading techniques is to practice, practice, practice! The more you do it, the better you’ll become at it.
And don’t be afraid to experiment. Try different techniques and see what works best for you. The key is to find a technique you prefer and stick with it. With the right tips and practice, you’ll be shading like a pro in no time!
FREE PYRO PACK
This FREE (and highly detailed) digital packet is overflowing with information for getting started in pyrography.
- 14 tools supply list – the best tools in pyrography
- 5 pyrography patterns to use in burning
- 2 step-by-step pyro projects with templates
I put together a digital download packet that highlights wood burning tools and projects perfect for pyro beginners.
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Nice shading demo.. It’s very helpful I do have a question that’s unrelated..
Do you use anything to suck up the smoke so it doesn’t create a long term smoke smell in your house..??
You probably have a studio.. I don’t.. It’s my “office” with carpets.
Typically, when I’m in a clubhouse or similar, I simply use a small fan to draw smoke away from me.. But, here in the house, I’m love something that not only draws the smoke away.. but, absorbs it.
Thank you, Bill
Hey Bill, I do have a shop with an exhaust, but I have used the Razertip Smoke Extractor and it works pretty well. Here’s a review on YouTube. https://youtu.be/k_Ob-K1ayfg
Great video on shading! I am hesitant to start but this has given me a little confidence! I am going to use video as a reference! Thanks so much!
You’re very welcome! Glad you liked it!