Here's a shot of the entire sheet I'm working with. Because I find the carving so unpleasant, I've been adapting my ideas so that I need to do as little carving as possible. The area I've carved out will stay white (the color of the paper), so that happens first. The shape in the middle of the carved area is a "bridge," meant to hold the paper up so it doesn't sag into the carved area.
Above is a closeup of the carved area, with my hand for scale. You can see a void that was sitting just under the veneer, running horizontally just above my hand. Voids are awful if you're trying to do detailed carving, as the veneer above has nothing to hold on to. This is top grade plywood, so there's no way around encountering voids.
The orange color is the glue that holds the inner layers of ply together. It's tough and scratchy when the chisel goes through it and it dulls the tools quickly. If this were shina I would be cutting deeper, as shina plywood glue is soft and not really noticeable. Carving shina plywood feels like carving solid shina.
Here's an edge shot where you can see the plys and the orange glue. This is 1/2-inch birch ply.
This afternoon I printed the top of this block in a lovely pink.