Pyrography is not an easy job, but I recommend everyone to give it a try. It’s not expensive, you could start with a budget lower than 20-30 USD and can still create amazing graphics.
Cannot draw a line? Does not matter.
I have drawn and paint since childhood, so I am not using a pencil before burning graphics in most cases, I instead go immediately with a burning pen. However, if you feel it would be hard, you can take a pencil, sketch the silhouette on the wood, and then burn it with the pen.
If you cannot draw at all, you can still give it a try - many pyrographers do the same - take the picture, print it, and use carbon paper, so you reproduce the silhouette on the paper.
I mentioned this above, but this is actually the most important advice every professional pyrographer gives you.
Do NOT over-burn the wood, start with almost no visible lines (do it fast and barely touching the wood) and add layers. The last thing you could do is actually push the pen against the wood, so the lines look like this.
You can buy your first burning pen for 16 USD, search Google and look for “pyrography pen”. I recommend not investing much, buy cheapest one and if you like this technique, then buy more expensive.
Anyway, the pen should offer more pins that you can change, and I highly recommend a pen that can have controlled heat, so you could decrease/increase the power of the heating. If you don’t have the heating controller, then I used blowing my breath on the pen when I wanted to decrease the power; it works pretty well.
For example, this fantastic Geralt was created with the cheapest pen that cost me 10 USD in the local market. It is a matter of patience.
I use standard or plywood wood which you can buy everywhere. I recommend poplar or birch wood. It is IMPORTANT to understand that you can only burn on raw wood without any treatment like painting or varnishing since burning releases dangerous chemicals in the air. You can try burning even on thick paper or leather, and the same pen can be used.
In case you want to start selling your piece, make sure you test the wood first; otherwise, it might happen that after one year, your art will start slowly vanish from incorrectly not tested wood like this example.
Normal desk, but a room with the door and window ;-) I work at home in a separate room, but if I burn some more significant area to a completely dark burned color, it sometimes smells everywhere in the house. Like roasting a sausage in the middle of the house ;-)
Fan or Mask
Well, this is the most important suggestion from your health perspective.
You burn wood, it releases smoke, and you should not breathe it – there is not that much smoke, but if you burn for a few hours, imagine what it could do to your body.
You can do it without any fan or mask for the first try, ideally outside, but if you want to continue, I highly recommend a face mask if you want to continue. You can buy it at any workshop (ask for a mask that filters smoke, not just dust!) or purchase small fan which blows the smoke away from your face.
I cannot count how many times I’ve burned my fingers. The burning pen is pretty hot; even if you do not touch hot metal parts, sometimes it is hotter everywhere. Have it prepared if the pen is too hot for you to hold it.