Author Archive for Steve Prescott

Developing Patterns

Developing Patterns

by Stephen H. Prescott


In my opin­ion, the main rea­son wood­carv­ing is not con­sid­ered true art by some is because most of us copy pat­terns and sub­jects from oth­er carvers.  Much of our carv­ing work would be like enter­ing a store bought paint-by-num­bers paint­ing in an art show.  Art must be orig­i­nal, not copies.

I am often asked how I devel­op a pat­tern for an orig­i­nal carv­ing.  They all begin as rough sketch­es or doo­dles of an idea.  There is very lit­tle detail, just a lot of pos­si­ble ideas.  Not all ideas will be used but if I don’t write it down it will be lost.

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I use var­i­ous mod­els to work out pat­terns from these sketch­es.  The first mod­el is a 12”, 1/6 scale, Male Action Fig­ure that I got on Ebay.  It has 35 to 40 artic­u­lat­ed joints which allows for many dif­fer­ent pos­es.  It’s fair­ly expen­sive for a mod­el ($60-$200) depen­dent on the options.

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Prescott 05A cheap­er alter­na­tive is a Spi­der Man that I got at Toys­RUs for $10-$12.  Mine keep dis­ap­pear­ing and I have to pur­chase new ones.  (I think my grand­sons are prime sus­pects.)








Prescott 06I also use move­able paper manikins that I made in 8”, 10” and 12” sizes.  These are in car­i­ca­ture pro­por­tions rather than real­is­tic.  If you want to make your own, Lynn Doughty has a video on his blog, on how he makes his paper manikins.  (For pho­tos click HERE.)





Prescott 07I also have sev­er­al plas­tic mod­els pur­chased from an art sup­ply.  They are 6” and 13”.  They are more real­is­tic in pro­por­tion.

Once I have the pat­tern worked out, I draw/transfer the pat­tern to quar­ter inch grid paper.  I draw the front and side view next to each oth­er to make sure that both sides match.  If it’s a pat­tern that I plan to make mul­ti­ples of, I use a felt tip pen to draw the pat­tern on clear plas­tic or card­board.  The pat­tern is then trans­ferred to the block of wood.  I cut out the pat­tern on the band saw.  I cut on the out­side of the lines to leave plen­ty of wood to play with.  Don’t be con­cerned about every lit­tle detail on the cut out.  I pre­fer to have the free­dom to mod­i­fy carv­ings from the same pat­tern.

I hope this helps you devel­op your own pat­terns.  If you need more info or have a com­ment you can con­tact me at:

Email:   —    Web­site:    —    Face­book:  Cow­town Carv­ing Comap­ny

Edi­tors Note — Steve Prescott is a long time carv­er and instruc­tor, and a found­ing mem­ber of the Car­i­ca­ture Carvers of Amer­i­ca.