Make: a reduction linoprint

aztec inspired reduction linoprintThere’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good reduction linoprint! In an effort to continue experimenting and trying new things I thought I’d try a little reduction print today, I was inspired by Aztec patterns, having just bought a brilliant Aztec inspired cardigan in the sales.

I took lots of pics as I went along, so thought I would share the process with you here. Right, lets get started…

You will need

  • Images/sketches etc for inspiration
  • Lino  – cut the the size you would like your print
  • Pencil
  • Permanent marker
  • Lino cutting tools
  • Lino printing inks, roller, and something to roll out your ink, a plastic tray for example
  • Smooth paper to print on
  • Cardboard cut to the same size as the paper you are printing on
  • Masking tape
  • A brayer or spoon

reduction lino print - how to

First draw out your pattern on to the lino. I wanted to make an Aztec inspired print so I did a bit of online image research first for some ideas. I kept the pattern simple but with enough going on the be interesting. Try choosing a theme and picking out a few repetitive elements to get you started.

reduction lino print - how to

I like to go over my pattern with a permanent marker so that I can continue to see my pattern throughout the process, so you can do this once you have finalised your design.

Now to begin cutting. The idea with a reduction linoprint is that we use the same lino block for all three colours we are using. This means we need to cut away a little bit more of the lino each time we want to print a new colour. It’s best to start with the lightest colour, I’ve chosen a metallic bronze ink, so cut away on the lino the areas on the print you want to remain white (the colour of the paper). As you can see from the above photograph I have only cut a way a few areas, meaning there will only be a little bit of white on the finished print.

registering a lino print

Once you’re happy with the lino, place it in the centre of the piece of cardboard and use the masking tape to mark where the lino is. You’ll use these guides to line the lino up to each time you make a print.

Roll out your chosen ink colour on your tray and then ink up your lino. Making sure the lino is registered against the masking tape guides, line up the paper to the edge of the cardboard and lay gently over the lino. Press the paper down and place in your printing press if you have one, or use a brayer or the back of a spoon to apply pressure to the paper.

meking a reduction linoprint

Lift off the paper and lay the print out to dry. Print as many as you like – I created 5 prints. As you can see, the permanent marker left a slight pattern on the print but I don’t think this matters as it will get printed over eventually, plus I think it looks quite good – you could stop right here if you fancied!

Second colour linoprint

Once you have cleaned the lino thoroughly, cut away some more of the design. The areas you cut away now will remain bronze (or whichever colour you used first). As you can see I have cut away a bit more of the design, the permanent marker is still visible so I can use that as a guide.

reduction linoprint

Print your second colour, being careful to line up your lino and paper in the same way as before. Leave the print to dry – looking good huh?

cutting lino for print

Now we come the the last colour. Use your darkest colour for this layer. I’m cutting all the remaining areas away so I am just left with the permanent marker lines visible. I’m going to print this layer in black using the same registration method as before.

printing a linoprint

aztec inspired reduction linoprint

And here is the final print after 3 colours were printed. You can see clearly how the different colours have built up and why it’s important to start with the lightest colour and work up to the darkest.  These are great fun to do, and if you use water based ink they don’t take long to dry which means you can create lots of wonderful images in just a few hours. Go on – have a go!

aztec inspired reduction linoprint

aztec inspired reduction linoprint

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2 responses to Make: a reduction linoprint

    • thisisknockout Post Author

      Thanks! For this project I was using up some soft-cut lino – the kind with no backing. I used to use this a lot, it’s fairly quick and easy to use, but am now preferring to use the more traditional stuff on a lot of my projects.

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