This penguin wood carving is simple to make, super easy to paint, and will brighten anyone’s day.
Simply follow our step-by-step tutorial and you will have this little caricature carving finished in one or two days.
For this penguin wood carving, you will need a wood block that is 1 x 1 x 3 inches (2.5 x 2.5 x 7.6 cm). If you want a much bigger penguin simply increase the dimensions (as always, see our free pattern at the bottom of the page if you prefer to use a bandsaw).
You will also want a pencil to sketch your design (magic marker was used to help you see the pattern better).
There isn’t a lot of wood to remove, but a roughout knife is handy for the areas of wood that you want to remove. You will also want a smaller, detail knife for the facial details.
As always, a painting guide is at the end of the page and you can use whatever paint brushes and acrylic paints that you want. The completed carving was finished with boiled linseed oil, but you can use whatever finish you personally like.
That’s all you need. A super simple tutorial for creating a carving grinner!
What this video to see the key steps to make our raincoat-clad penguin.
Draw a line about an inch (2.5 cm) from the top all around the wood block (we lightly penciled the line on the front to avoid getting magic marker on the face). The face of the penguin wood carving will be inside a triangle on the front. The total width of the triangle (at the widest point) will be 3/4 of an inch or 1.9 cm (photo 1).
Add a little box that is a 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) wide and a 1/4-inch (0.6 cm) long to reserve wood for the beak (photo 1).
Draw another line that is 2.25 inches (5.7 cm) from the top all around to mark the top of the boots. Draw a final line all around that is a 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) from the last line to mark the top of the feet that are hidden inside the rain boots (photos 1-4).
Add an arm on each side, that extends from the side to the front, that is about 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) wide. The end of each flipper will extend from the arms of the raincoat (photos 2,3).
You will give your penguin a fisherman’s cap that has a brim that is folded back. First, carve off the corners all around (photo 5). Then, sketch the hat on the wood block (photo 6).
Separate the head from the hat on the front (photo 7). Use stop cuts along the guideline, removing wood from underneath.
Then, separate the bottom of the face, skipping the top of the box that you reserved. Remove some wood on both sides of the face (and above the beak) to create a slight mound for the beak, which will extend out from the face (photo 8).
Sketch the eyes on the face (photo 9). Make a stop cut on each side of the face to angle the beak (photo 9). Remove wood from underneath (photo 10). Gently slice wood off to remove the remaining outline of the reserved beak box.
Once the beak is cut, carve wood at an angle toward the head to make the beak more prominent (photo 11). Tip: Be careful how you hold the carving from this point further so you do not press too hard and break the beak.
Shape and round the top of the hat. When you are finished, your penguin should look like photo 12. Now, separate the middle brim of the hat all round using stop cuts, removing wood from above (completed in photo 13).
Separate the top of the feet all around. You can use stop cuts or V-cuts. Also separate the top of the rubber boots all around (photo 13).
On the front (photo 14) and back (photo 15), mark wood to remove to shape the rubber boots (photos 14,15).
Narrow the boots in the front and back. Keep a little extra thickness so you can make the boots a little wider than the legs. Once you have the desired width, draw a line to mark the top of the boots. Use stop cuts to separate the boots from the legs all around (photo 16).
Cut the back of the arms using a stop cut (photo 18). Make a slicing cut underneath your first cut to cleanly remove wood in one piece (completed in photo 19).
Draw the coat with the collar and the pockets on the front of the penguin wood carving (photo 20).
Carve the inside of the arms on the front of the penguin. You can use a pyramid cut (photo 21) to remove the wood in one piece.
Carve along the guidelines for the rest of the details. You can use stop cuts or pull cuts (photo 22) and either remove wood from above or make a second slicing cut. Try to minimize your cuts or the wood may splinter.
Once all the details are carved, use V-cuts to add wrinkles to the hat and rain coat (photos 23-26).
Clean up your cuts and deepen them, if needed. This will prevent bleeding during painting and will give your piece a clean, finished look (photos 23-26). You can also use a piece of sandpaper to smooth any wood fuzzes.
For this penguin wood carving, using most paint colors at full (100%) strength worked better for the design (photos 27-30). Here are the colors and brands that were used. Feel free to use whatever paint brushes you want.
To learn more about painting wood carvings, click here.
Photocopy size to fit your wood block (or use with a bandsaw to create a roughout for larger carvings).