Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Another Face -- Elves on the Loose! Part 2

OK, now where was I?

Oh, yeah. Now I remember. Eyes and stuff.

Here I've done the other eye mound, just like I did the first, cut down from about the center line of where you want the eye mound to be, then cut up from the cheek. I've done a little more rounding of the face and narrowing of the head above the cheeks. I've also evened up the jaw line and started hollowing below the cheek "bone". I haven't yet started putting any detail into the ears.

And, here we have a profile view of this stage. You can clearly see the curve of the cheek here. If you run your finger alongside your nose from the nostril up to your eye you can feel the rise up to the cheek bone and down into the eye socket. You can also feel that there is a valley between the side of your nose and the peak of the cheek bone. If you look below the nose you can see where I goofed here. Put your finger up under your nose where its septum meets the upper lip. No, not in your nose, under your nose. Didn't your mother teach you anything?

Ahem, now run your finger along your upper lip until you reach the end of your nose wing, either one. Feel how your upper lip curves into your face. That's called the dental mound. In a profile view your upper lip reaches your nasal septum about half the distance between the tip of your nose and the end of the nose wing. I didn't make my dental mound round enough which means I didn't make my smile lines deep enough. Remember how I warned you about that? Do as I say, not as I do!

Here I have drawn in pencil the lines for the smiley squint and the smiling mouth.

And here I have cut them in with v-cuts using the tip of my knife. I've also reduced the height of the chin (something I should have done earlier) and defined the lower lip by using a rolling-slicing cut with the tip of my knife.

And here's a slightly different view.

Voila! The finished product. Yes, Ethan, I know. I didn't show progress photos of the ears. Sorry, pard. I just got carried away as I got closer to finishing. But, as I've been saying, the ears are pretty trivial. Compare the photo above to this one. All I did was make two small stop cuts forming a triangle into the ear at the midpoint of the ear where it joins the side of the face. I put the point of my knife at the bottom of the bottom stop cut where it joins the face, slanted my knife until the cutting edge was a little bit (I love precise, technical terms!) above the bottom of the ear, then swung my knife around cutting a dish into the ear and leaving a consistent border around the edge until I reached the top. By this time the point of my knife was at the apex of the triangle at the center of the ear. I repositioned the blade so that I could cut down to the face and maintain the pointed ear and cut, removing the chip that gave me the interior of the ear. It sounds harder than it is.

I've also put some wrinkles in the cap using rolling-slicing motions with my knife. No gouges were used in the making of this ornament. Some carvers, some very, very good carvers, use a v-tool to texture hair and beards. I don't. (What a surprise, huh?) They're a lot faster at the job, but I don't feel they leave enough of a shadow. I cut straight down into the wood and then finish the "v" by cutting at an angle to meet the bottom of the first cut. I vary the side of the first cut that I make the angle cut so that no matter where the light is coming from, you will still see some shadows.

Compare this profile shot with the one above. I've reduced the brow to a more reasonable profile. You can also see how I lowered the tip of the chin. The dental mound is there, just not as pronounced as it should be. I probably should have either dished out the area between the tip of the chin and the lower lip more or reduced the height of the chin more, but, ce la vie! There is room for improvement, but, all in all, not a bad result.

Feel free to criticize or give me tips for improvement. I'm always looking for ways to improve.

So, until next time, let the chips fly!


  1. Ears! Ears! Ears! lol j/k I see from the side basically how they are done. It looks pretty cool, I like the squinty eyes and smirk of a smile. I have to say, V-tools, I have several, and I guess I just don't kow how best to use them, or veiners! Most books love to show the opening outlike with vtools, but I either use a gouge or a stab cut with my straight chisels. To each their own! what ever works for ya. I have been "trying" to figure out the "love affair" with vtools, by using the ones I have for hair and partings, Maybe I'll stumble upon something that makes me fall in love with them as well.

  2. I have never been fond of v-tools myself. They do make quick work of hair and the like, but I've never seen that as a reason to use them. I think that a small gouge or veiner does a better, more realistic job at hair. But then I don't use those either! :)


  3. Fantastic. You do not say, but I assume the finish is from the knife only, or do you use the devils paper? I cannot see from the photos.
    I had a go, carving today, and got a passable face. Reading this again has pointed out some things I need to do differently.
    Thanks Bob

  4. Back! Back! Get thee behind me, Satan! I DO NOT, EVER, use the devil's paper! The finish on all my pieces, including the lovespoons, is straight from the knife. I have, in the past, with great infrequency, used cabinet scrapers, but as they are actually edged tools, I only feel a little guilty about using them.

    Glad you were able to discern something helpful out of my ramblings, Sean. Just returning the favor. ;)


  5. Nice job on the Elf there Bob! I like that a lot.