Step 1 – Create a dark board
First, a dark board is needed. This can be done any number of ways. Here are three examples.
The first example is to wood burn the board so that it is a dark color. A solid brass chisel point pen tip is being used for this. Start each burn stroke at the top of the board and pull it down towards yourself. Use a light hand press and keep your hand speed constant.
The next example is to use a mini torch. This will quickly darken the board. Keep steady speed as you move the torch back and forth across the board.
The torch produces a lot of carbon, so make sure to wipe the majority of it off using a clean cloth like a paper towel.
The last example is to paint the board. Black was chosen to create a high contrast with the artwork, but any color can be used.
Acrylic paint was used because of its opacity, but you can use watercolors, markers, wood stains, etc. The acrylic paint was diluted with one-third water. Add one drop of water to every three drops of paint.
This photo shows how all three boards look. The far left one was done with a wood burner, the middle with a torch, and the right with watered down black acrylic paint. Each one has a slightly different look. The wood burned board has a slight sheen to it. This sheen is noticeable when the board is angled in the light. The torch board has a dark matte finish. The painted board is also matte in appearance, but the finish is dependent on the type of paint used.
Step 2 – Pattern prep
Next you will need a line drawing. If this is your first-time creating artwork of this sort, I recommend starting with something fairly simple. I will be using this line drawing of a rose. I will mention that any line drawing can be used.
Print the pattern onto lightweight paper. I used standard copier paper for this. Since I’m working on three different boards, I created 3 patterns.
Flip the pattern over and apply a very light coat of spray on adhesive.
I’m using Elmer’s Craft Bond for this. Make sure to read the can and follow the directions to create a non-permanent bond. With this particular brand, the glue had to dry for 3-5 minutes before the pattern could be used.
Once ready, then cut the pattern down to fit the board.
Next, apply the pattern to the board.
Now the board is ready for the next step.
Step 3 – Engrave
In this step we will engrave the pattern design onto the board, or, in my case, onto the boards. During the engraving process I discovered that the middle board was defective. Pieces of the plywood chipped out. If this should happen to you, discard the board.
Equip the engraving bit onto the Customizer and carefully carve over the pattern lines.
Do a quick check to make sure you are engraving deep enough to go through the paper and carve the board.
Make sure to carve over all of the pattern lines. Engraving through paper creates more dust than normal, so make sure to wear a mask. You should be doing so anyway.
After all of the pattern lines have been engraved, then remove the pattern.
It is very common for some of the pattern pieces to remain on the board.
Use fingernails, tweezers, or a tip of a knife to remove them.
I found that rubber cement erasers worked great to remove the really stubborn pieces.
Once the pattern pieces are completely removed, check the artwork for missing and/or poorly engraved lines. Mine has several.
To fix, just use the engraving tool over the problem lines.
Step 4 - Shape
Now it’s time to give the rose shape. As you can see from the photo, the middle board was not completed. That was the defective board. I did try to give the rose shape, but more pieces of the plywood fell out so I gave up.
Equip a diamond drill bit of your choice into the Customizer. I will be using a bit with a rounded end.
Lightly go over the surface of one rose petal to remove a layer of color.
TIP: Use a light hand pressure. This will allow the bit to act like sandpaper, so it can slowly remove color. In fact, I will refer to the process of removing color as sanding.
Re-sand along the outer edge of the petal to lighten it up some more. Then re-sand over most of the petal to create a gradient highlight. The color should be darkest at the base of the petal. Rotate the board as needed, to make it easier when working along the outer edge of a petal.
After you are finished with the petal, then do the same steps on another petal.
Work your way around the rose, sanding one petal at a time. The brighter the outer edges are, the better they will contrast with the base of the adjacent petal.
Remember to rotate the board as needed to make it easier when working along edges.
Take your time. Working in a slow and controlled fashion will produce much better results than rushing through things.
Here’s how the rose looked once I was done. This is the board that had watered down black acrylic paint applied to the background.
This board is the one where the background was wood burned. Engraving and sanding this board produces a rose that looks like it could have been done with a wood burner.
Lastly, this is the defective board that I used a torch to darken the background. I had a lot of problems with little pieces chipping out, so it wasn’t worth wasting more time on it.