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Learning from the experiences of others saves time.

          Finding a picture – help for beginners
                           A personal view by Les Dimes


After many beginners have done their first picture from a kit or from an existing drawing, a lot seem to be at a loss as to what to do next. Most want to create a picture to achieve the satisfaction of doing something with their own stamp on it. 


The only criteria to doing your picture is that you want to do it – you have to feel the need to create what you’ve seen into a picture made of veneers. This seems an odd statement, but, remember, you might have to live with this idea for a few months, things may go wrong and you don’t want to abandon your picture at the first hurdle. One of the benefits of being a member of a group is that is plenty of advice and help to be found. 


When you decide on your picture, do not be daunted by colours, styles, complexities or any other complications – just start it! 

After a few years, you will start to look at images with a marquetarian’s eye and try to visualize how you could get the results you want.

In the meantime, to help with deciding on what subject to tackle, I have listed different ways of conceiving and producing pictures from various sources and I will explain what I feel are the merits of each as we go along.

The sections are:-

a)Black and white line originals

b)Black and white tones/colour photos

c)Composite pictures


e)Colour change

f)From scratch

g)A few hints​

 a) Black and white line originals

I find these types of images very satisfying to do as you will have no preconceived ideas of colour and your veneer palette is entirely up to you.  Here are two prime examples from my early work.

The Old Barn” was taken from a book of American ephemera and was only about three inches deep. See pics 1 and 2.

As you can see, I was not sufficiently adept at the time to make a good job of the tree, but, nevertheless as it was only my eleventh project, I was reasonably happy with the result.

“Battle Biarki” was taken from a book which I had borrowed from somebody and the only info I can still find is that the illustrator was “Caselli”. Again, there was complete freedom to use whatever veneers I wanted apart from the metal objects and the flesh colour. Pictures 3 and 4.

b) Black and white tones / colour photos


Once again, black and white tones give you the freedom of choice of colours, but you will also need to work out the shapes of the shadows and highlights, which requires more creative import from you. Black and white tones (whether an illustration or photo) are particularly suitable for three veneers pictures as this restriction makes you more aware of tonal values within a picture. In fact, with colour pictures, I usually work with a mono copy in order to get the tonal values correct. This helps to give a better, more realistic, balance to your subject, however many different veneers you use.


Examples of pictures taken from black and white tones are “McQueen” and “Louise Brooks – silent movie icon.” See pics 5,6,7 and 8 .

Both are incidentally three veneers. 

c) Composite Pictures



By this I mean taking elements from one more than one source in order to create one picture. This idea works well with portraits, where you can show the subject’s interest

or what they are known for; eg, in my Lindberg picture, there is a background pic of his aircraft (the Spirit of St Louis) and a map of his route across the Atlantic for the first solo transatlantic flight. 

I followed this theme for Amelia Earhart, showing her plane and her route for the first Atlantic solo flight by a woman. In both cases, I have deliberately put the background items in a lighter tone (Lindberg’s plane was silver and Amelia Earhart’s was bright red), so they only add interest to the picture rather than dominating the portraits.  See pics 9 and 10.

The picture “Klicks trouble” was based on three pictures from different sources, including a complete change of markings on the 109. I had read about a 109 pilot (Unteroffizier Klick of 3./ LG2 Group) who was shot down during the Battle of Britain, so I adapted the pic I had of the 109 to match the markings and colours of his squadron. The Spitfire variant was taken from a photo and I fuddled the markings as there was no mention of which squadron had downed Klick. See pic 11.


d) Abstraction

By this I mean taking elements only from a picture instead of using the whole.

It is fairly obvious that you would delete something modern from say an old village scene (telegraph poles, yellow lines, overhead cables etc), but you can also delete parts of a picture to make it more dramatic or less confusing. My favourite example of this is my picture called “Storm Brewing (after Frank McCarthy)”


The original was from Frank McCarthy’s picture “Watching the wagons”, which I have as a Falcon jigsaw puzzle. I have deleted four indians, five horses and a whole wagon train!


I obviously had to rename the picture and hopefully Frank McCarthy forgave me. See pics 12 and 13

e) Colour change

Again, with a colour picture, it is better to have a monotone copy also available as this

helps with getting the tonal values correct. There is nothing to stop you changing the basic colour of a picture as long as the shadows, highlights and mid-tones are correct.


I had a beautiful picture by Adeline Halverson, who is a Canadian artist who owns horses, called “A good day’s work”. The horse is very dark with a bluey-black mane.

Realising I could not find enough different veneers of that colour, the horse became a chestnut (or more strictly speaking a “mahogany with burrs”). The overall effect was similar, although I must admit my version is not so dramatic. See pics 14 and 15

f) From Scratch


By this, I mean using your own photographs and/or drawings to create a picture. This is, obviously one of the hardest ways of doing a picture, but it is also one of the most rewarding.

I have made a few pictures of houses by taking photos, combining them and generally moving items around to make them fit or look better, creating a finished drawing and working from that. In one case, I also took a video (only thing available before mobiles took moving pictures), so I could get all the minor details correct.

As usual, I would take a b/w copy of the pics to get the tonal values correct.

g) Other hints


If you use tracing paper or a printed copy to transfer the design onto any veneer, use black carbon paper – blue is always difficult to remove.

Do not use too hard a pencil to transfer – an HB or better still, an F pencil (not easy to get) does the job.

If you use a b/w copy of a picture as your basis, always have more than one copy as, on a complicated picture, one can easily get worn out.

If your picture is large, try doing some of the elements separately, adding to the background and finishing off the fussy bits.

Remember that artists can get things wrong as well – I have seen pictures that look fine until you realize that the perspective is all wrong or hands and feet are too big or small etc etc

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