How to make a linocut print

September 13, 2009

This weekend, I made my first linocut for the Fine Art Printmaking course I’m currently undertaking.  I thought you might like to see how the print was created.

The printing plate is essentially a block of lino with the design carved out using a range of specially designed linocutters.  These are the tools I used:

Lino block and tools

Lino block and tools

To begin with I drew my design onto the lino using a white chinagraph pencil.  The drawing must be the reverse of the final design required as the print produced will be a mirror image of the block.

I carved out the outline using the smallest cutter before scraping out sections using the larger tools.  The areas cut away do not print – linocut is a negative form of printmaking.

Lino with design cut away

Lino with design cut away

The next step is to apply the ink.  For this you need a roller and a glass plate as well as your chosen ink.  I used a mixture of black and blue water based relief ink for this design.

Preparing the ink

Preparing the ink

The ink is rolled out thinly onto the glass plate. (Mine is an old reinforced glass chopping board!) This ensures an even coat of ink is spread on the roller for applying to the lino.

inked lino block

inked lino block

The final step is to transfer the image to paper.  If like me, you don’t have a printing press this takes quite a bit of elbow grease.  The lino block is placed face up and the paper placed over the top.  Weight is applied to the back of the paper to transfer the ink.  I use a wooden spoon for this, rubbing it over the back of the paper repeatedly using lots of pressure.  You can peel back a corner of the paper to check if the print is ready.  If areas are still faint, replace the corner and carry on burnishing. 

Here’s one I made earlier:

Final linocut print on white paper

Final linocut print on white paper



  1. Ahhh Julie, genius! I have been wondering what to use to roll my ink on and thats perfect. I may be coping you. I don’t have a glass chopping board, but I bet my lovely friends down the road at the ‘Bargain Centre’ do 😀

  2. Glad to help, Nicki. Look forward to seeing how you get on with your linocuts 😀

  3. Hi Julie,
    I thought I’d take a look at your blog since it’s linked from the forum. That’s a really striking result, I like it! Maybe I’ll try something a little more “hands on” like this.

    • Thanks Jeff, it was fun to do, I recommend giving it a go. I see you have set up a blog to chart your progress too, what an excellent idea!

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