Almost a full month since I posted here, but I have not been idle. After 10 weeks of on and off work Zelda is finished. Here is the finished carving:
(click the photo for a closer look)
Here are the steps I took to complete the carving:
I didn't take many photos of the texturing process. I used small veiner gouges to try to replicate the flow of the dog's fur. On the muzzle I used a 1/32" wide gouge, and gradually increased the size of the gouges through the 1/16" and 1/8" until I was using a 1/4" wide gouge on the heavier fur areas.
Smaller gouges were then used to break up the larger areas into furrier looking wood. Notice that the harsh line of the ruff has been drastically minimized by the texturing- and I lowered it some before this step too.
Burning is a time consuming process, but somewhat enjoyable if you are not rushed. The idea is to further break up the fur into individual hairs- kinda. At least the illusion of individual hairs. I started on the nose where I used just the tip of the skew tool to indicate tiny, short, straight hairs.
The nose and eye were darkened and sealed with the side of the skew burner.
I worked my way back on the head by following the natural lines of the fur and skull. By burning areas like this I prevent myself from getting carried away and getting the direction wrong.
After the head was done I worked on the left leg with longer and deeper strokes of the burner to indicate longer hairs.
Notice that the hairs on the ears and ruff are coarser and longer too- mostly done with deeper and darker burning.
After the burning was done I started to put some paint on. Originally I was going to just stain the wood for a little color, but the burning was too dark to allow that treatment. The buff colored areas needed to be lightened a lot and a that would need paint. The first coat of paint was applied thinly and in muted versions of the final color.
After looking at this for a while I decided that it needed some background color, and I needed it to be there now so that I could judge how to finish painting the dog. A darker background would affect how light her paws would look.
I considered a Mona Lisa style painted landscape but decided that would be too kitschy. Then I thought about making the frame look like a stone archway- but decided against that idea too.
First I put some burgundy color for the cushion and a light amber for the background.
That looked way too garish, so I sanded it with some 220 grit sand paper.
That brought out the highlights that I'd carved into the wood, but they were too light and the background was still too yellow.
So I mixed up a nice intermediate color and applied it all over the cushion and background and wiped it off immediately. The sanded areas picked it up and the shadowed areas were modified.
This I like. I was now able to go over the dog's fur with increasingly intense paint to bring up the lighter areas and emphasize the darker areas.
All in all I am satisfied with my first relief carving.
Now- onto my next carving project.