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How to Carve a Bas-relief in foam
(Part 1 design and drawing)

A bas relief is a carving but rather than being fully three dimensional it is flat with some depth to it.

And I also create something called a Triptych which is a three paneled work of art. It can be a painting a carving or something similar. They were very popular during the middle ages and were often used for religious works.

I also have a video tutorial on this project at the bottom of the page.

Will has a youtube channel with over 700 videos on projects you can make. Check it out right here



The carving I make in this tutorial

The completed carving


It is the front piece for a Wizard's Desk. The desk isn't complete yet. This desk is part of a larger project called The Wizard's Lair. You can learn more about that here.

The wizards table with carved bas relief



One panel

Here is a closeup of one of the panels.

The carving tells a story in three parts. Each panel tells a part of the story.







Materials and Tools:

  • A large piece of XPS foam. I use a large piece because I need a large bas relief for the table. But you can use any size piece that you want. (The type I use here is called foamular and I bought it at the Home depot)
  • Paint: Brown and white
  • Suggested Tools, You have a lot of flexibility with this. I used a dremel with various bit, x-acto knife, sand paper, emory boards, rasps


Start with sketches

The first thing you should do is some drawings of what you want to carve. This is important. It will make a big difference. You can't just start carving! Alternatively you can draw your sketch directly onto your piece of foam. But this can be a bit challenging if you need to erase lines and change things.




I had my sketches just the way I wanted them for all three panels. Now I need to transfer those drawings to the full size table piece.

I could try to re-sketch them but there is an easier way.


Another sketch

I scanned those sketches in my computer. Then in a paint program (Corel Paint Shop Pro) I resized them to the size of the table piece. Each drawing being as much as 15 inches.

Well, you can print a 15 inch drawing on a single piece of paper. But, I used the Print layout function of Corel and then printed up several sheets.

You can see in this picture the print layout page size is around the dragon head. I printed that, then printed the dragonslayer.




Match up the drawings

Now I can take those printed sheets and tape them to the table piece.









Trace onto the foam

Now I can trace over the lines, pressing firmly with a blunt pencil. This causes an impression in the foam underneath.









Strengthen the lines

Remove the sheets of paper and the impressed lines can be seen and drawn out. The images have now been transferred.









The drawing is transferred

NextOk, the design and drawing is done. let's start the carving!










Watch the Video here



Fantasy MapHow to Make a Fantasy Map

In the previous tutorial we made a big sheet of paper. Now, in this tutorial we turn it into a map of a fantasy world. I show you tips and techniques on how to do it and I also have a video. How to Make a big Fantasy Map




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