Wood Carving Layout Sketch & Tracing
To fix in your mind the sort of carving you want to make, it
is necessary to put it down on paper. A series of preliminary
studies of the project will illustrate the difficulties ahead.
It may be of help if I outline briefly the steps I take to commit
the new carving to paper before I execute it in wood. For drawing
in the preliminary details I use old-fashioned brown wrapping
paper for my layout sheet.
do this because it is inexpensive, it takes pencil lines well,
it is finished hard enough to stand erasures, and it can be
used for shading in. You can throw it away with no regrets.
I get a 24-inch wide roll weighing about 60 pounds for something
like $6.00 and it lasts a couple of years. Beside which, you
can wrap parcels up in it.
a little practice, I find I can make a preliminary sketch almost
to full scale, free hand. I call these layout sketches (which
may not be the term used by the cognoscenti, but it will do).
I start these layout sketches by drawing in the head of an eagle
(assuming I am working out a new design for an eagle) in a corner
of the paper.
somewhere else I lay out a section of the wing detail, then
somewhere else on the paper I sketch in the pose and usually
draw out various variations of these details. By so doing, I
fix in my mind many of the details I want to develop in the
final design. Usually these sketches will have covered most
of the sheet. Starting afresh, I lay out a "box" (or
rectangle, if you prefer) the length and width of the carving
I am to draw.
Detail of bookcase cornice and valance board showing application
of rope molding and associated parts. (All these moldings were
carved by hand.) Detail of scallop shell carved alto-relievo.
(Courtesy Mrs. Glenn Stewart, South Bristol, Maine)
Pair wall brackets carved in full round using Prince of Wales
plumes as supporters with the Tudor Rose on the base. (Courtesy
Mrs. Glenn Stewart, South Bristol, Maine)
box is drawn exactly to the dimensions of the carving. The next
step is to draw in centerlines in both directions. The point
of their intersection is the exact center of the box. Using
these center-lines as reference points, I draw in all the details
that are shown in the layout sketches. For the sake of illustration
and simplicity the major part of the eagle will be alike on
both sides. Usually I draw in the head first, then the outline
of the left wing, then the outline of the tail and the bottom
rest. All this is only one half of the eagle.
next step is to trace off the outline on thin, transparent tracing
paper; indexing * the center intersection of the vertical and
horizontal lines and the upper and lower corners of the box.
Then I reverse the tracing paper in such a manner that these
indexed points coincide with the ones on the working drawing.
Backing the tracing paper up with carbon paper, I trace over
the outline. The corners of the tracing paper are, of course,
fastened down to the drawing board. I check to see that I have
gone over all the outline. If I have skipped any part of it,
next step, I remove the tracing paper and view the completed
outline. Frequently it will be evident that the whole outline
is not exactly what I want. The sweep of the wings may be altogether
too greatly exaggerated or the tail outline is too wide or too
narrow or out of proportion to the rest of the carving. In other
words, I've pulled a "bubu." Correcting these out-of-drawing
errors by erasing the faulty parts, I revise one side and retrace
until the outline is just as I want it to be.
and only then, do I start lining out the drawing with the detail.
I usually draw in the feet in the position I want them on the
bottom rest. Then I draw out the legs with the feathering indicated,
then I draw in the detail of the head, the beak, the cere, eye,
nostril and crest. The body and wing feathers are only indicated
for the reason I know perfectly well that when I come to this
part of the carving I will have thought of a new way in which
I want to execute these essential details.
* Indexing is simply marking register points on both the tracing
paper and the drawing so that you can always overlap the tracing
exactly in the same place on the drawing whenever you need to.
Image 23 A small American Eagle showing the various parts assembled
after being profiled, jointed and bosted out. The completed
eagle is shown in the next Imagegraph. A compound carving.
Image 24 A small American Eagle. DimensionsWing to wing
24 inches; height, 22 inches; overall length, 24 inches; gilded;
eyes colored. (Courtesy Mrs. Glenn Stewart, South Bristol, Maine)
it is a great help to make additional drawings such as cross
sections, both in the vertical plane and the horizontal plane,
using the centerlines as the reference points for these sections.
If the carving is to be done in "alto-relievo," I
sometimes shade in various portions of the planthat is,
the layout drawingto show to what degree the detail is
to be raised and what the final carving is supposed to look
drawings are the final preparatory steps. The working drawings
are made from tracings of the completed layouts.