Relief carving as a type of woodcarving is as old as antiquity, yet it is still enjoyed by carvers today. Though it is not as popular as other forms of wood carving, it is gaining in popularity because of its versatility as a medium of artistic expression. There is essentially no limit to this form of artistic expression. Relief carving is a sculptural form in which figures are carved in a flat panel of wood. The figures project only slightly from the background rather than standing freely. Depending on the degree of projection, reliefs may also be classified as high or medium relief.
Relief carving can be described as "carving pictures in wood". The process of relief carving involves removing wood from a flat wood panel in such a way that an object appears to rise out of the wood. Relief carving begins with a design idea, usually put to paper in the form of a master pattern which is then transferred to the wood surface. Most relief carving is done with hand tools - chisels and gouges - which often require a mallet to drive them through the wood.