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Before & After: Shading Example Part 1
work by Rick Eaton

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 Published in: 2009 Archives

Certain aspects of engraving can be learned from studying the printed words of an expert. The fundamentals of layout and design, the basics of how to use and sharpen tools, and similar principles can be studied and practiced with good results.

Although nothing beats learning one-on-one from a master engraver, sometimes just being able to look at the steps in between can help tremendously. The more experience one gains with engraving, the easier it becomes to dismantle a design and the techniques used to create it. To help understand shading, it is good first to see a layout in the raw (like the bottom of this knife bolster) and then with shading. Rick Eaton, who creates custom knives from start to finish — including the designing, forging, and engraving — has a beautiful scroll style as shown here.

On this piece, the difference between the ready-to-shade area and the finished area is quite apparent. Whereas the shaded design looks full of life and three-dimensional, the unfinished scrolls and vines are flat and unimpressive. Without the quality of shading, the unshaded area is devoid of anything special. However, most engravers can look at this open area and imagine just where they might put the shade lines.

Imagine where Eaton may have added more shade lines and what the finished shading will look like — and then compare your thoughts with the upcoming Featured Photo that will show the two sections complete.