Project 7 – Multiblock print – First Idea

In a single coloured plate, I explored an idea looking at space and gravity, but was not satisfied with the outcome. I thought I would push and simplify the idea and print it in three colours.

space lino003

Original print.

I liked some of the shapes described and the intersecting curves. I developed this in my sketchbook, trying to simplify but retain an essence. I used collage to help me play about with intersecting curves and this made me decide to try to loose the rectangular boundary to the print.


My final design combined the simplicity of the shapes at the top with the negative spaces in the bottom collage. I sketched this out and planned out my three colours. I was unsure whether to cut out the areas where the shapes overlapped or whether to allow the ink to layer. The direction of my cutting lines would be a feature of such a sparse design, so these had to be carefully considered.


I photocopied my design and rubbed a 8b pencil over the back. I then carefully traced each colour’s outline onto three sheets of vinyl (selected to give crisp edges), cut to exactly the same size as the paper, using a different coloured biro for each plate so that I could keep track of my tracing.

japanese space004japanese space005P1030956

On each plate, I allowed the curves of the shapes to dictate the direction of cutting, hoping to create rhythm and a sense of movement in the negative areas. I deliberately left areas uncut to accentuate this. I outlined each shape with a fine cut and the worked outwards.

Here are my individual plates.

P1030960 P1030959 P1030957

The first combined proof showed that the effect of all these lines was a bit overpowering. I reduced the background lines as much as possible. I had liked the idea of two similar blues from the collage, but this subtlety was lost with printing inks. The darker blue dominated the paler too much, and the layering of the ink didn’t show enough.


To print, I:

  • inked with small rollers to eliminate some cutting lines
  • printed a test print on my press using runners, but also hand printed with either a spoon or a baran so I could manipulate the density and location of print marks
  • used a lighter paper would also allow me to be more sensitive to my pressure and the ink take up.

For registration, I used a card jig and aligned my paper on its edges.


I tried:

  • printing  on Hosho paper
  • printing on Khadi and Lokti paper
  • I wasn’t happy with the delicacy of Caligo inks on these papers so I mixed earth pigments with transparent ink to see if I could get a more Japanese feel
  • tried Hawthorn inks mixed with transparent ink for transparency
  • tried cobalt drier to speed up drying times of transparent inks for over printing (didn’t work, I had been warned to use a tiny amount, too tiny?)
  • succumbed to the temptation to ink some isolated areas with an extra colour.

Inks made from powder pigment and Hawthorn transparent ink, on Khadi

Caligo inks on Hosho

Caligo inks on Hosho

Hawthorn Stay Open Inks on bread and butter paper

Hawthorn Stay Open Inks on bread and butter paper


Inks mixed with lots of white on black sugar paper


Hawthorn Stay Open Inks on Khadi. Only two plates printed for calligraphic effect.

Press v hand printing:

Hand printing gives:

  • more control
  • more sensitivinty
  • ability to roll back the paper and see how you are progressing
  • localised control of printing
  • can use more delicate papers

Using a press gives:

  • more even blocks of colour
  • speed
  • more consistent results for editions
  • better for plates with larger plane areas
  • easier for larger plates.

I have to say that I enjoy hand pulling linoprints. Whilst I love a press, I like the ultimate control of hand burnishing and pulling for relief printing.



  • I enjoyed developing an idea through a series of different prints
  • loosing the lines on some plates but retaining others selectively
  • making my own inks
  • loosing the rectangular boundary
  • using earth colours on unbleached paper
  • the simplicity and Japanese feel
  • exploring different colour and paper combinations – difficult with reduction prints.


  • this print doesn’t sufficiently exploit three plates with overlapping colours
  • no texture except in the background
  • no difficult shape mapping or cutting skills
  • bit of a cop out technically.

To fulfill the remit of a multiplate linoprint, I felt I needed to do another piece which would exploit the benefits of several plates more, particularly overlaying colour and texture.

About SteveCussons

I am mature student studying art with The Open College of the Arts.
This entry was posted in Part 2 Introduction to Relief Printing - Linocuts, Printmaking 1, Project 7 - Multiblock Linoprint and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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