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Pyrography Tutorial "Golden Eagle" - Pyrography Portrait Tutorial Work in Progress

Pyrography Tutorial Work in Progress by Nedra Denison

Please click on each thumbnail for a larger version of each photo

Golden eagle work in progress step 1. Golden eagle work in progress step 2. Golden eagle work in progress step 3. Golden eagle work in progress step 4.

The burning is being done on a maple burl which was finely sanded before an outline of the eagle was sketched.

This eagle was originally done as a full bust on basswood. I have made some minor changes to the original burning and this one will just be a close-up of the head.  As usual, I start with the eye and then begin working on the beak.

I have added more detail to the eye, mouth, beak and started adding some detail below the beak. 

I'm not real happy with the eye so I'm off to the internet to do some research hoping to find some better photos of golden eagles to use as reference. If you want your work to look natural and lifelike I can't tell you how important it is to look at reference photos of your subject so that you know what it is supposed to look like.  Do not rely on your imagination unless you are not going for a natural, lifelike burning.

My research paid off and I found several more photos of golden eagles to use as reference tools. As a result I have made some subtle changes in the eye and beak. I have also decided to make some minor changes to the fur in the head and below the beak. All the changes are very subtle and may not be noticeable here but it does make the face more realistic and it makes me happier with the results.

I burned more detail into the eye, top of the head and chest using some of the new photos I have found. 

Details are being added to the feathers in the head and chest as well as under the beak. I've done some undercutting to create depth and define each feather. More highlight was added to the eye and surrounding area and the chest feathers are starting to develop some definition. 


Golden eagle work in progress step 5. Golden eagle work in progress step 6 Golden eagle work in progress step 7. Golden eagle work in progress step 8.

I have started defining the feathers throughout the eagle with the burner. Using the HD5MP Bent spear shader I have gently outlined the feathers and begun shading and undercutting behind each feather to add definition. As I usually do, I burn in layers, starting at the bottom, or underneath feathers and work my way up which creates more depth in the feathers...making sure that there is solid definition between the layers by careful shading behind each layer of feathers.

I've filled in more of the feathering in the neck area with undercutting and shading for definition.


Again I have added a bit more detail on the feathering in his head. A bit more below his beak and above it as well as filling in more detail and shading in the neck area.

I have signed this piece but I'm not calling it done yet. I will be setting it aside for a few days and looking at it from time to time to decide if it needs something else.

I can already see a few areas I need to add a bit more detail and shading to on the back of his head but overall I'm happy with the results. I think one more sitting and I should be done with him/her!

The golden eagle is done but I have not applied any finish to it. I tested some tung oil on the back and was not pleased with the results so tomorrow I will apply my usual polyacrylic finish and call it done!


Golden eagle work in progress finished.This is the completed burning with the Polyacrylic finish. It has enhanced not only the burning but brought out the natural figuring in the wood. 

I applied 3 coats of Polyacrylic and lightly sanded between coats. I did not apply the finish to the sides of the natural edge but I did apply it to the bottom where it will sit on a table and I applied it to the back to protect the back as well.  

This eagle is being done on a small, 5" x 7" maple burl. One of my favorite subjects to burn is eagles so I thought this would be a great piece to do a close-up of a golden eagle. It started out using the photo of the eagle I did on a basswood slab but I started tweaking it using some new reference photos of golden eagles that I recently found. As a result the eagle is taking on a new life and I think turning out to be a new and improved version of the first golden eagle.

The majority of this burning was done with the Razertip HD5MP Bent spear shader but when working on the tiny detail feathers I used a new, modified bent spear shader that Razertip made to my specs, the HD5MSP. It's smaller and narrower but not as small as the HD5SP. It is perfect for tight spots and really helped with these tiny little feathers. It is the HD5MSP and it is available on our website.

I apologize for all the variations of the color of this piece as I took the photos. We were traveling in our motor home and lighting was not ideal. The final photo is just about right on with the colors.

Happy Burning ©!

Nedra Denison signature.


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