Learn to make your own woodburning patterns from photos with this tutorial. Pyrography plaques made from family portraits can be a great gift idea for any holiday or event.
Adapting Your Photo:
Digital copy of photo to be adapted
Photoshop or another Photo Editor
Open the photo you wish to use as a woodburning pattern within Photoshop or another photo editing program and set the image to Grayscale (black and white). In Photoshop, this is done through the Image >> Mode menus.
Once the image has been set to Grayscale, you will need to lower the picture quality. In many programs, this can be done by adjusting the brightness and contrast of the image. If you are using Photoshop, this can be done by applying a Filter called Film Grain (under the “Artistic” submenu)
This will remove much of the contrast in the image, which will make it easier to use as a woodburning pattern. Once the contrast is set to a level you feel comfortable using, print the image.
Transfering the woodburning pattern:
View our Pyrography Tools page for information on different tools of the trade, including burners, kits, and tips. Tape a piece of carbon paper to your plaque, with the image taped on top (use just enough tape to hold the woodburning pattern in place). With a pencil, trace over the image, including any shaded areas; this will transfer your image directly onto the plaque.
Once finished, remove the image and carbon paper and use the pencil to touch up any areas where the woodburning pattern did not transfer well. Remember to be light on details, as burners do not easily shade with values.
It's now time to begin burning! For burners, instruction books, plaques, and more, view our Pyrography Store.
If you are using a burner with the option, keep your heat down low. A lower heat creates thinner and lighter marks, which in turn allows you to have more control over the shading and values in the finished piece. If you are using a burner with only one heat setting, you will need to move faster. As you drag the tip of the burner along the lines of the woodburning pattern, a faster movement will create lighter lines. The slower you move, the darker the lines.
The type of tip you use also effects your project. For a woodburning pattern as detailed as a photo, you will need as thin a tip as possible. Thinner tips allow for thinner lines and more detailed burning. To the left are a few suggestions of burners and tips that could be used.
Once the burning is complete, you should stain the wood with a stainer of your choice. Generally, a spray stain is easier than a paint stain, but that may be a personal preference.
With the woodburning pattern complete and burned nicely onto your plaque, it makes a gorgeous and uniquely personalized gift for any occasion.