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Get your ink on: A beginner's guide to printmaking

Dancing in the Moonlight - linocut print by Victoria Hall
Dancing in the Moonlight - linocut print by Victoria Hall

Want to try your hand at printmaking? Here's an easy way to create bold and beautiful prints with linocut.

A variant of woodcut, linocut is a printmaking technique in which a design is cut into a linoleum surface with a sharp chisel or cutter. Ink is applied to the linocut, which is then pressed onto paper to produce a mirror image.

Both Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse began using linocut to create prints in the late 1930s. Like me, they fell in love with the way linocut prints produced bold and powerful imagery, with hard lines and high contrast.

Picasso linocut print
Picasso linocut print

Matisse linocut print
Matisse linocut print

If you fancy following in the steps of Matisse and Picasso, here's a simple guide to creating your first linocut print:

Sketch your image onto your lino

Take a soft linocut carving block—150mm x 150mm is a good starting size—and sketch a pencil image onto the smooth side. Remember that your image will be reversed, so take care with lettering. Keep your image simple and bold, so it really stands out.

Carve your lino

Take your chisel or cutter and start carving out the sections that you want to remain the colour of your paper—remember, any raised parts of your linocut will impress an image onto your paper. Be careful when carving, cutters are sharp, so always carve away from your body and use your spare hand to turn and manipulate your linocut block.

Ink your lino

Squeeze 1-2cm of printmaker's ink into a tray, spread it out using a roller (also known as a brayer). Lift the roller regularly so that it's evenly coated with a thin layer of ink. Then, roll the ink onto your linocut block, avoiding the cut areas as much as possible.

Press your print

It's always a good idea to do a test print first—that way, if you don't like the effect, you can go back and tweak your linocut. Gently place your paper over your linocut design and using the back of a large spoon, apply some pressure to the back of the paper. Gently peel back and remove the paper. If you're happy with the print, repeat the process on better quality paper.

Let your print dry

Depending on the type of ink you use, and how thickly you applied it, your linocut print may take several hours to dry.

Clean up

Gently rinse your linocut, roller and tray under warm running water to remove any ink. As most lino is fully washable, you'll be able to use your linocut to make prints time and time again!

Treat your lino as your lover, use gentle strokes.

Want to see linocut printmaking in action? Watch this short video:

Love this piece of artwork?

Dancing in the Moonlight is available on a range of prints, stationery, clothing, merchandise and gifts in my shop now—check it out here!

Dancing In The Moonlight by Victoria Hall - Canvas Mount

Victoria Hall Artist
Victoria Hall

About Victoria Hall

Victoria Hall is an English-born, Australian-based writer and illustrator. She is the creator of three picture books for children, Penny Prickles at Coogee Beach, Eggy Peggy Has Lost Her Leggy and The Fairy Beasts. For more updates, follow Victoria on Instagram or check out her bio here.


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