Making a linoprint from your sketch

In this post I’m going to show you how I turned a sketch of some bamboo into a two colour linoprint. I hope you can use the techniques I have used here to turn your own sketches into prints – I would love to see what you do! If you want to buy one of my bamboo prints they are available here.

Turning a sketch into a two colour linoprint

You will need:

  • A soft pencil (2B)
  • Two 150mm x 200mm blocks of lino – I used the soft cut variety
  • Tracing paper
  • Lino cutting tools
  • Craft knife
  • A brayer
  • Wood block ink
  • A roller
  • A surface to roll your ink on – I use an old glass table mat. (Make sure any glass you use has no sharp edges)

Transfering the image to the lino

First trace your sketch using the soft pencil and tracing paper. Turn the traced image over and position it on to the lino, use the brayer to rub the image and transfer it to the lino.

Cutting the lino

Once the image is transferred you can start cutting the lino. As you want the lines you have drawn to be printed in black you need to cut away everything else from the lino, the bits left behind will eventually be inked and printed. Go slowly with the cutting tool and keep your fingers out of the way in case you slip.

Registering the print

This print is going to be two colour, the foreground will be black, and there will be some blocks of green in the background. To do this draw some rectangular shapes where you want the background colour printed on the piece of tracing paper you used earlier. Use the same method to transfer the shapes to the second piece of lino. Cut these shapes out using a craft knife.

Next register your prints. I use a simple method of doing this that works really well:

Take a piece of cardboard the same size as the paper you are printing on – in this case A4. Lay the tracing paper with the traced image over the top and position it where you would like it printed. Now put the lino blocks you just cut out in position under the tracing paper – lining them up with the shapes you drew. Take the tracing paper away and carefully put making tape around the edges of the lino blocks to mark their position.

Take the lino shapes away and do the same thing with the first lino block using the same piece of card.

Printing the first colour

Now to start printing! Begin with the background colour, here I have chosen a mint green. Put your ink on the glass surface and roll until slightly tacky. Ink up each of the lino blocks and make sure they are in position using the masking tape registration.

Next line up the paper with the top of the card, carefully lay flat over the lino. If you have a press, press it in there, if not use your brayer to press down on the lino with even, thorough pressure.

Print your run of prints, inking up the lino each time and checking they are in the correct position.

Adding the black ink

Once the prints are dry you can add the foreground. Ink up the lino with black ink. Cut away any bits of lino that are picking up ink that you don’t want, or rub away with a rag. Register on the cardboard using the making tape guides you made earlier.

Take each piece of paper and line it up at the top of the cardboard as you did earlier. Press, lift off and leave to dry. Remember to ink up again inbetween each print.

Finished bamboo linoprint

And there you have it – finished print! I printed a few on brown paper to which I think look great – try experimenting with different coloured and textured paper and see what you come up with!

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81 responses to Making a linoprint from your sketch

  1. vincentfarrellartist

    so cool! i totally want to try this with some of my own drawings!! i have created a blog about the art of my father Vincent Farrell but i also draw and paint but i never learned how to make prints like this. i love it!!!thanks so much for our post. i am so excited!!

  2. umanbn

    I like those…I’ve been toying with the idea of some simple kind of printing for my own work….I might try that…nice images btw.. πŸ™‚

  3. photoclare

    This is great, I did lino printing at College – Never have I cut my fingers so many times!! I was useless at it, but yours is brilliant!

  4. metan

    I did lino printing at high school and really enjoyed it. Lately I have been thinking of trying it again and this post has really inspired me, thank you for sharing it! Love the beautiful simplicity of your design too πŸ™‚

  5. Po' Girl Shines

    Lovely prints. The last time I used this technique was in high school. Always scared using sharp objects so I have not tried to incorporate this in any of my art. When I see your finished prints I think of the term, “no guts, no glory.”

  6. thelinoprinter

    Lovely prints. For aligning the lino I make a pencil mark around one corner (after the first layer has been printed) and then use this mark to align the lino and make sure it is in the right place.

  7. Carlie Chew

    My favorite medium. Thanks for sharing! I need to get back into printmaking, I have 8 linoleum blocks sitting in my office and you’ve inspired me to get back into it : )

  8. Aidan

    A really great article. You’ve definitely inspired me to want to give this a go. Thanks for posting it!

  9. focusonme40

    Lovely print, you have inspired me. I haven’t done printing for so long. I’ve just taken up painting again but I love printing. I think my next sketch will be turned into a print instead of a painting.

  10. ASuburbanLife

    This is really neat! You make it look easy but I’m sure it can’t be for those of us who aren’t artistically inclined. Still, one can dream!

  11. Grumpa Joe

    Your instructions for making a print are very clear and concise. I love learning new artisan methods. You have taught me one I will use and teach to my grand daughter.

  12. Marsala wine

    Now that’s what I call artistic. If I had half the talent you have, I wouldn’t have to stay at my crappy job! Really great work.

    BTW, congrats on getting pressed!

  13. Justine de Jonge

    What a gorgeous post. This reminded me of linoprinting at school. And i remembered how much fun I used to have doing it!

  14. aktifistri

    Wow you’re really creative! I admire your passion, commitment, and works on making the ideas real. I can see it’s not always easy to do and be so, since I experience it myself. I have ideas and skill to live the ideas–talking about art-work like painting, sketching, and drawing–but I tend to be weak-willed when it comes to executions and consistency. Thumbs up for you. Warm regards!

  15. blissflower1969

    Beautiful work! I thought making prints was fun, but I haven’t tried it since I was in junior high. I sliced my finger open using the knife, so I’m a little gunshy.

  16. jimrose1970

    Does anyone know where I can find a connoisseurship article/paper on Claude Monet? I’ve been looking for one and have had no luck.

  17. Make: fun experimental linoprint « thisisknockout

    […] Next up ink your lino with your chosen colour and get printing. For tips on how to register and print your lino see one of my earlier tutorials; ‘Making a linoprint from your sketch’ […]

  18. Make an experimental lino print | My Blog

    […] Next up ink your lino with your chosen colour and get printing. For tips on how to register and print your lino see one of my earlier tutorials; ‘Making a linoprint from your sketch’ […]

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