Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}

Hey blog people! I’ve recently been getting lots of questions about my linocut / block print process. During one of my most recent printing projects I took a bunch of photos to share…. hope this helps to spark some block-printing creativity out there!

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}

Here are the materials I use for block printing. Carving tools (I have small, medium-V and large-U gauges) brayers, and inks. Although there are some really nice high-end inks out there for printing, I’m pretty happy with water-soluable Speedball inks. Their clear ink extender is also great for helping thin down the inks for smoother printing.

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}
This is my starting point: the sketch I drew of Ruby, ready to move on to become a linocut!

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}
…I then traced over that drawing on tracing paper. I find that transferring my sketch to the block is much easier from tracing paper rather than sketchbook paper.

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}
The traced sketch is placed over my block (I call it a block, but it’s actually Speedy-Carve material from Speedball– similar to a rubber stamp.) Once I’ve got it positioned just where I want it, I take the end of a (capped!) Sharpie or pen and rub the drawing to transfer the graphite to the block.

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}
Here’s how the transfer looks.

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}
Start carving! I usually begin with the smallest details first, then work my way into larger areas with a larger gauge carving tool. This will only be a one-color print, so whatever I’m carving away will be the color of the paper, and what is left behind will be inked in black.

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}
Carving out the feet!

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}
Here’s the block after I’m finished carving. Carving out lettering in reverse always feels strange, but I just have to trust those guidelines!

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}
Inking up the block with a brayer! Ink up the block as evenly as possible and carefully lay down a piece of paper on top.

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}
I print my linocuts at home (without the use of a letterpress), so a good way to get an even amount of pressure over the entire block is to rub the back of your paper with a spoon & a little elbow grease.

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}
Lifting up my first print!

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}
Here’s the initial print of this Ruby block (AKA: the Artist’s Proof.) From this point, I can now see areas in the block I’d like to carve out a little further.

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}
Once I have a print that I’m happy with and it’s dry (the water-based inks I use take about 20 minutes to dry under a warm lamp… oil-based inks can take days.) I like to add some color details with acrylic paint or paint markers.

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}
(I referenced this photo often for Ruby’s color details.)

Linocut Tuturial! {featuring Ruby}
Here’s my final Ruby portrait! There’s only going to be this one printed portrait out in the world, so I simply signed and dated it– no edition # required.

I hope this helps some block printers out there.
Happy printing!

See full post here: Polymer Paula2015-01-20.