Linocut Print Making Tutorial

linocut relief prints
linoleum for linocut print making

Hey guys! Today I’m sharing a simple Linocut print making tutorial featuring a project I’m working on for my Printmaking class at school.

Linocut is basically a block printing technique that uses a soft linoleum material to carve out a design to print, instead of using wood. It is much easier to carve and produces a smoother result.

It is a very satisfying process that can produce some very nice results quickly and relatively cheaply.

Linocut Print Making Tutorial

Getting Started: Gather your supplies

The first thing you will need to do is gather your supplies for creating linocut prints. I managed to find someone giving away a starter kit on Craigslist, so you could check there or go to your local art supply store. You can also find these supplies on Amazon.

The above image shows what the piece of linoleum looks like before it has been carved.  You will begin with something similar to this.

Supplies needed:

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You can also get this handy starter kit with everything you need except the lino blocks, palette knife and inking plate.

Step 1: Draw your design

Draw your design directly onto the surface of the lino black in pencil.  Then you can go over the pencil with Sharpie or another permanent marker that gives the lines some thickness.

linocut print making

At this point don’t worry too much about making mistakes since you can adjust the image when carving.

Step 2: Carve out your design

Use your carving tools to carefully carve out your designs, scooping out a little bit of material at a time until you get the design and depth you want. You may want to start with a “test” block to get a feel for the amount of pressure you need to apply (not much!).

After carving out the plates they will look like the ones below. You can also cut around the edges like I did to get rid of unwanted material.

linocut tutorial

Step 3: Warm the Ink and Make a Test Print

Before printing your designs on expensive card stock make a few test prints first. I like to use printer paper for this, so I can see where I might need to make some adjustments. 

Squeeze out your printing ink onto a glass plate and scrape it around using a palette knife so the ink will be the right consistency. It should be a little bit sticky but not too much. It will take some practice to get a feel for when it’s ready.

This is called “warming” the ink.  Sometimes the ink can be too wet or too dry so you have to experiment with it to get the look you want for your print. 

I had to leave my tube of water-based relief ink overnight with the cap off because it was way too watery. 

linocut print making tutorial

Step 4: Ink the plate

Roll the brayer over the warmed ink and then roll it over top of the linocut plate, on top of a clean piece of newspaper. The ink tends to get all over the place so you have to be pretty careful and wash your hands a lot. Use a clean piece of paper between each print so you don’t get ink where you don’t want it to be.

Step 5: Press Paper to the Plate

Lay the paper carefully over the inked linocut plate. Then you need to press it down pretty hard and evenly, so to do this I use a wooden spoon and rub in small circles all over the raised areas. I go over it several times to make sure the print will be as even as possible.

Here’s how mine turned out:

relief prints

Step 6: Reveal your print

Slowly and carefully peel the paper away from the plate, and voila! You’ve made a linocut print.

Here are some finished prints I made with these linocuts!

I hope you’ve found this post interesting and useful.  If you would like more information about the linocut printing process feel free to leave a comment below.

Looking for more art tutorials? Check these out!

Thanks for reading and have a great day,

~Julie

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