High and Low Relief Carving

low and High relief Carving


Relief carving has historically been the primary form of decorative carving. There is still a strong market for both high and low relief carvings for decorating items and wall hangings.

Relief Carving Cuts

The stop cut is a very simple but extremely useful technique in any relief carving. Along any definable area where one section of the design intersects with another area or the background, the stop cut will help you to establish the different layers of work.

Laminating for High Relief Carving

High Relief is one of the many areas that the carver can be both bold and dramatic. When planning your pattern establish not only how long and wide your blank will need to be but also how deeply you wish to carve into the wood.

Low Relief Carving

Most of the carving example that we have from the early Egyptian and Greek artists are done in a style called Low Relief. In this technique the edges of one carved area slants down to the next intersecting level. The joint between the two areas can easily be seen. Low Relief is a carving that is done in definable layers and the entire carved surface has a shallow look to it.

High Relief Carving

High Relief carving creates a more dramatic depth effect than does Low Relief. The basic creation of the carved design is the same as with Low Relief except for the use of the Undercut Stroke. Today's carving trend toward more realistic and detailed work often is created with High Relief.

Relief Carving

Essentially, relief carving is an illusion. A good example will give the impression of depth when it isn't really there because commonly it will be done with a piece of wood that is not actually very thick. Most relief panels that you will see have been carved into a board probably less than 50mm (2in) thick. We will start with a simple project that will get you going and we will deal with the learning elements as we go along. Obviously, the first thing we need to do is sort out some kind of design and for this I have drawn up a simple country cottage that will include most of the basics of relief carving.

How to Carve in Low Relief

When you carve a low relief wood carving you don't have to worry about a frame, as the wood frames your picture or design. Here are some tips for carving in low relief.

How to Do Relief Wood Carving

Relief wood carvers create carvings that seem to be raised, or are in relief, on a flat panel of wood. These carvings can be intricate geometric chip carvings, landscapes or even portraits. In addition to being displayed as wall plaques, they are made to decorate any number of articles, such as wooden chests, jewelry boxes and gun stocks. Instructors recommend relief carving as a first step in wood carving because it requires a minimum of tools and supplies to begin and can be very satisfying to the carver.

Decorative Relief Carving in Wooden Spools

How difficult could it be? Also at that time, I didn't have a good supply of empty old spools. My client, and another woman who had been listening to our conversation at my club's woodcarving show, brought spools of their own for me to carve, left me with extras, and I have been hooked ever since! Presently, several of my carving friends are working on their own creations and I have found a few people online who are working with spools.

What Is Relief Carving?

The type of carving I use is called full relief carving. This means I have a smooth piece of wood, like a gun stock, that I carve part of the wood away. The end result is the place where the picture is and there is no part of the original gun stock left in the area of the picture. In other words, the front side of a picture in 3D. There is 2D carving, or semi relief carving, which is a carving you would get if you left part of the original wood in the picture. You usually will see this from carving which has been completed by a laser. You do not get much shaping, (dimension) to your picture/carving. There is also full round carving. This would be when you take a block of wood (say 4 inch by 4 inch) and carve the entire animal or object out of the wood. Like carving the complete elk, legs and all. Like the status of animals, etc. Here are a few of examples. 

Relief Carving

Don't Forget to Bookmark our site.