View Full Version : new to printmaking...

02-09-2002, 02:46 PM
I am currently an illustrator that does most of my work in scratchboard and watercolour. I am trying to reinvent myself, and thought printmaking would be a logical step from scratchboard. I bought some linolium on a wood block, speed ball ink, roller and burnisher, and speedball cutting tools, but I am having two problems. The first is the lack of control I am getting when cutting into the lino. I get alot of resistance and therefore I cant do small precise cuts, and my cuts are clumsy. Someone told me to heat the tools over a flame as I do it, but this doesnt seem to help much. The second problem is that when I roll the ink over the finished piece and burnish it, I lose a lot of the nuances and it comes out a globbed mess. I am printing on bristol board. Also my final issue is that you can only put one color ink on the cut and so the print is just one color. As an illustrator for books and magazines, this is not acceptable. I need to be able to create more than one color and create shadows ect... I am not sure if this is even possible in printmaking. I was thinking maybe i could go back into it with watercolour but I don't know. Than I thought maybe etching would be more what I need to create detail and actual illustrations suitable for print, but I have no accsess to a press of printing acid. Any help on this big mess?

02-09-2002, 06:09 PM
Hi davinci!
First of all welcome to the printmaking forum!!

Lino-cut is a good place to start. There are a lot of newer products that are softer, like 'Easy-cut". You might want to try those out until you get a feel for the tools. It's kind of a rubber material -- very easy to cut and keep control.
Sassy metioned that she uses the unmounted lino and warms it on a heat vent. I've let mine sit on the back of a warm stove. I think that softening the lino might be work better than heating the tools.

If you're losing the details when you're inking, you might want to play with the consistancy of the ink a little. Too thick or too thin can both cause that to happen. I wish I could give you a better explanation, but you have to experiment and get a feel for it.
I don't know if the bristol board has anything to do with it -- hopefully someone else will know. I prefer Japanese papers for blockprinting, but paper is a very personal thing. ;)

As far as color goes, you can use multiple plates, printing each color on a seperate piece of lino or do a reducton, where you print a color, cut off some more, print another color...cut off some more...
And of course you can go back into the print with other mediums. (watercolors, colored pencil, pastels, etc)

Here's a lesson that Sassy did on blockprintng -- might help with some of your questions;

I'm just starting on etching, so I can't help you much there, but I'm sure Sassybird and some other folks will jump in and help you out with those questions. :)


02-09-2002, 07:10 PM
davinci, welcome to the printmaking forum.

I have found that using the unmounted linoleum is easier for me to work on. As Gisela said I put my linoleum on a heating vent when it begins to feel stiff to me. You can also use a hair drier, or put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

The depth of your cuts can also affect how a cut looks when printed. I do very shallow cuts in some areas for detail, and deeper broader cuts for other areas. It takes some practice to get the feel of the tools, but once you do it will be almost like drawing. You can also use awls, and pins or even a olfa cutter to make marks on linolem. That gives you some interesting texture. If you have a dremmel play with some of the tips on the linoleum.

In inking try to roll your ink in one direction at a time when inking the plate. For example start at the bottom rolling up wards, ink your roller again and repeat. Then to finish off the inking roll from the side or at an angle. That will assure good coverage. You don't want to have the ink layers thick. When you roll your ink out get a nice even tack to it. To me it almost sounds like velcro when the brayer goes across the ink. If your ink is too thick on the plate that will cause it to spread when put through a press or hand burnished. If it is too thin the same thing will happen.

Once again it takes a bit of practice to get the feel of the process. Don't give up:) Once you get it down you will enjoy each step of the process, and those finished prints :)

Post some of your work. One of us might be able to tell by looking at the print where you might be having problems. We are all learning, so don't be afraid to show your goofs:D

02-10-2002, 01:49 PM
thanks for all the advice, I saw the unmounted lino, so maybe I will try that. Also is it possible to paint the ink on the lino using a brush, this way you can get exact colors, or does the ink dry by the time you have painted the whole block? Also how do you get it so that the print looks more like watercolour, (less opaque). Ive seen many published illustrations done with lino and it doesnt have that "harshness" to it, it looks very soft and like watercolour. Other than that, i guess Ill just have to play around more.

02-10-2002, 03:56 PM
have you thought of using a dremel with intricate bits to draw with on wood? i tried that once and got great results opposed to the sloppy scratch marks i made with the wood chisels.

chris 97
02-10-2002, 05:49 PM
warming the linoleum helps a lot to make it easier to cut. you can put it on a heating pad, or i have one of those old electric buffet warming trays. when it cools off and strts to get hrd to sut again, just rewarm it. it does take practice! get some books from the library on how to do it.........seeing a pictue of the process is a big help.
are you using waterbased inks or oil based? nothig beats havin someone demo in person what the ink should sound like and how to put it on evenly.
i love to do etchings, and the results of the shading that can be accomplished by aquatinting. you have to be VERY CAREFUL with mixing, using and storing the acids. IWOULD CAUTION YOU NOT TO TRY THIS WITHOUT PROPER INSTRUCTION, AND LOTS OF VENTILATION!
keep practicing your technique, everything takes practice. AND WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF PRINTMAKING, there just aren't enuf of us!


02-12-2002, 09:48 AM
Not a lino-cut pro myself but have done quite a bit of several other techniques.

Not familiar with lino cut tools but if they are similar to intaglio and woodcut tools make sure they absolutely totally sharp. Sharpen with a ______? stone and machine lubricating oil Can't remember what you call it.

Are you working the ink, i.e., when you roll out the ink it has to be warmed up/worked quite a bit. There's a sound that indicates it's ready to ink the plate with. With practice you just get to know the right "sound". A kind of sticky, but not gooey sound. Roll the ink out vertically, then horizontally several times.

Re hard edges. Are you soaking the paper? What kind of paper are you using?

02-12-2002, 12:01 PM
I use a number of different Wash ita and Smith Arkansas stones that have different grades of fineness or grit, along with knife oil to sharpen my cutting tools.

I also prefer not to use bristol board as it doesn't absorb the inks the way printmaking and watercolor papers do. The ink seems to lie in a pasty mass and shows pulling peaks on the bristol, unless that is a look you are going for.

I have used both reduction printing, (cleaning the plate surface between ink colors), and also the process of cutting separate matching blocks for each color I wanted to use. Obviously the last process. takes longer and you have to take care in lining up each step, but you can use the blocks longer, for more prints. In the reduction method, once you have cut down to your last color, you can no longer print any more prints from that block, as you have carved a lot of it away by that time.

02-25-2002, 11:07 AM
I cut all my lino prints with an x-acto knife (can you say "anal"). And I've always used acrylic paint instead of ink. I don't know it this is right or not but it works for me.

I'm currently working on a small lino davinci - I'll put it up as soon as I get it finished!

02-26-2002, 12:26 PM
Well, everyone's given great advice so far.

One suggest: get good tools. In addition to warming the lino I've found that good lino tools can make a heck of a difference. I used to use the cheap plastic handle set and when a friend got me a nice set my hand was sooo much happier! :)

The velcro comparison for rolling the ink made me laugh! But it's right.

I usually print on Bockingford paper or japanese paper. The japanese papers give a much finer image in my opinion if you have a lot of detail. I haven't mastered the very fine cuts and textures myself so can't advise on that. You can also experiment with dampening the paper or not, either is fine and will give different results.

If you're print turns out blotchy, which is often why beginners put on too much ink because they're trying to get a more solid consistent black, then lightly sand the surface of the lino. I use glass sandpaper and it gives me a consistent black print. If you're doing fine cutting you should sand before you start carving so you don't sand done any cut edges.

For multiple colours I've always used multiple blocks. I have also brushed ink on for multiple colours, that's perfectly acceptable though you'll have to experiment with the consistency of the ink for brushing - it's easy to make it too heavy. I tend to brush the ink on sort of like stippling with the brush upright.


03-11-2002, 04:33 PM
To keep the lino hot in hs..we use to keep a hot iron next to us. that way you can heat only the parts you want to be warm, just be careful when doing so not to burn it. it only takes a few seconds to warm it up this way :)

03-16-2002, 05:15 PM
I have learnt a lot from it.
I see lino prints being made in our day centre all the time, but have been to busy to give it a go, but I think I will now !!

;) ;)