Canadian Woodworking

Cartoon caricature

Author: David Bruce Johnson
Published: February March 2006
post-thumbnail

Carving for fun is a great way to learn how to carve for “serious”.

This project demonstrates all the skills and techniques one would use to relief carve a realistic profile. With a cartoon, you can relax and enjoy yourself because absolute accuracy is not necessary.

The three main steps in relief carving are: outline, contour, and detail. The remainder of this article is largely pictorial with explanatory captions. I used basswood that is ½” thick and 6″ square. You could use a different wood, but basswood is very easy to carve, especially for novice carvers.

Copy pattern onto wood

Start outline with V-gouge

Use knife for sharp corners

Match gouge to curvature

Remove wood with #5 gouge

Repeat process to a depth of ⅜"

Outline the masses marked by red

Reduce ¼ of the thickness

Remove more wood in red areas

Major masses ready for contours

Round edges marked by black arrows

Use #2 gouge face down

First step in contouring is complete

Arrows indicate the next edges to be rounded

Profile view shows how contours are developing

Rounded edges complete contours

Use #9 gouge to hollow the ear

Undercut the lip with #9 gouge

Carve nostril with V-gouge

Round lip into nostril with #2 gouge

Outline eyelids with V-gouge then round eyeball



Outline the Entire Bust

• Copy pattern onto wood

• Start outline with V-gouge

• Use knife for sharp corners

• Match gouge to curvature

• Remove wood with #5 gouge

• Repeat process to a depth of ⅜”

Outline the Major Masses

• Outline the masses marked by red

• Reduce ¼ of the thickness

• Remove more wood in red areas

Contour Features

• Round edges marked by black arrows

• Use #2 gouge face down

• Arrows indicate the next edges to be rounded

• Profile view shows how contours are developing

• Rounded edges complete the contours

Add Details

• Use #9 gouge to hollow the ear

• Undercut the lip with #9 gouge

• Carve nostril with V-gouge

• Round lip into nostril with #2 gouge

• Outline eyelids with V-gouge then round eyeball

Finishing the Project

For this carving, I wanted the skin areas to be smooth with the background and the hair textured. When I sanded the face, I tried to avoid the background and then refreshed any grooves that had been scratched by the sandpaper. Then, I textured the hair using a small #11 gouge. Finally, I sealed the carving with lacquer, although paste wax would have been just as nice.

Now that you have experienced the joys of carving a cartoon cameo, copy a photograph and try carving a realistic profile. You will be surprised how easy it is.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.



More projects to consider