Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Outline to Sculpting

This is after I have trimmed right up to the outline of the dog drawing. I used a knife and various full-sized carving gouges to match the curves. Refined some of the background levels when I found them to be off.

The first major step is to decide what is foremost in the animal. I chose the right foreleg, right side of the head, and the right ear. On the bottom photo you can see how it looked after I removed all but these sections. Since I had 3/8 of an inch left of wood to work with I took off 1/8" in this pass.

I wanted 3 layers so the next step was to mark where I wanted the 3rd or lowest layer to go. Then I removed everything marked down to that level; 1/8" above the background. With these level established I was now free to sculpt the wood to the form of the dog. First I rounded everything and connected up the layers. Then I studied the photo and looked at my dogs to remind me what went where. It looked a lot worse before it looked better, but I was ultimately satisfied with the results up to now.

She is still far from completed, but I think most of the form is correct. I'm still debating about how to handle the 'frame'. I kinda like it the way it is- but then thought about some ways to make it more unique. I could turn the archway into a stone arch. I'd be interested in reading your thoughts on this idea.
Next on the dog I'll sand a little to remove the 'fuzzies' and then texture the fur area.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Zelda: a Pet Portrait in Relief

Last year I promised a good friend a portrait of his dog, Zelda. I took some reference photos at that time and then bought a few slabs of basswood and butternut with some bark left to act as a frame. The dog is really pretty with lots of great color. I decided that I would do a relief with wood burning for color and a little added color.

Zelda was a stray so we don't know what kind of dog she is, but she is naturally quite thin and with her coloring I think she must be part coyote. Some think she is a whippet.
The first thing I did was to trace off the photo that I'd made the size I wanted. Then I transfered the drawing to the slab of basswood we had decided would work best.

Here I've clamped the wood to my workbench with some very sturdy quick-grip style clamps so it won't move while I work.

This shows the beautiful curls of basswood that came off the gouge as I went around the image. Like buttah. Great wood, and fun to carve with. I haven't done many relief carvings, but I do know that the background is removed first, so that is what I did. The wood is 7/8" thick so I decided to remove the ground down 1/2" to give me lots of wood to sculpt the dog's head.

I almost made the mistake of removing all the background and leaving the dog floating in mid air- but I remembered in time to leave enough wood to make a pillow for her to rest on. The next step will be to remove the background wood right up to the outline.