Project 7 – Multiplate print. Overlaying patterns


  • a linocut using multiple plates
  • use simple motif and pattern
  • combine simple shapes
  • use subtle colours
  • a small plate which could be printed on a greater range of papers which I have in only A4
  • try to really exploit what lino offers
  • develop the ideas created in natural stencils from Part 1.

I am always picking up and collecting natural objects that please or interest me. Recently I picked up some fallen red oak leaves and pressed them. These have lovely negative spaces and I thought would be an interesting starting point for a simple print.

To develop my design, I:

  • drew a couple to get a feel for their curve
  •  stamped them using acrylic paint to overlap the outlines and create a pattern of negative spaces
  • P1030991
  • to eliminate the texture, I scanned them and reduced them, because I want to create a pattern within an A5ish plate
  • I copied my pattern onto acetate so that I could overlay it on other patterned backgrounds from Project 5
  • considered overlaying the pattern at two different scales
  • tried some colour combinations using watercolours
  • P1040024
  • made home made ink colour samples
  • selected the colours to be used, pale opaque first layer, transparent mid tones second layer, dark semi transparent final layer which might have to become opaque


To cut my plates, I:

  • selected vinyl for its crisp cutting characteristic and cut three identical sized plates
  • modified my selected backgound pattern on my first plate to echo the pointed ends of the leaves
  • traced my scan of overlayed leaves and cut for my second plate
  • drew an individual leaf in biro on my third plate, and cut.

My printing process was:

  • select a variety of papers and trim them to the same size, except for paper taken from an old book which had to be used as was to retain text and margins
  • make a card jig to same size as the papers with cut out just slightly larger than plates so that the plates lay absolutely flat
  • mix my inks and take a print of each individual plate for submission
  • print a combined proof
  • modified my second layer ink by adding a little white to it. This seems to stabilise the ink and stop it squirming about quite so much, but I lost some transparency
  • print my first colour on each sheet using a variety of papers, coloured and textured.
  • spray my other colours with anti-skin spray and store, covered, in plastic tray.

My first layer dried quickly since it contained lots of white. I had difficulty when I came to print my second layer using my etching press with lino runners. No matter how carefully I placed my paper over my plate on the jig, the registration was always out by a small angle anticlockwise. In the end, I concluded that this was caused by the lino runners being a slightly different depth to the vinyl. I think the plate was getting a nudge as it hit the rollers. I printed the rest of my prints using registration blocks and hand pressing or on an Albion press, if available.


Using registration blocks to align second layer

Some of the textures and colours worked particularly well, and it was interesting how differently the inks behaved on the different surfaces. Some produced better results with a press and some printed by hand.

P1040052 P1040047 P1040051

This last is printed on a sheet from an old gardening encyclopedia, but didn’t add as much interest as I had hoped. I decided the leaf could be more interesting if I rolled the plate over with a different colour ink with different viscocity.

P1040056 P1040055 P1040053

I also though I could experiment with transparent waterbased inks. I used Akuakolor mixed with their ‘tack thickener’ to get a rollable ink.

P1040057P1040057 detail

I particularly like the way the first layer of ink has interacted with the second here, creating extra pattern. This had to be hand printed with a lot of force, and, unfortunately my final plate has moved a little.

To develop this idea/print, I could:

  • print the first plate twice, in two different colours and with the plate rotated 180 degs, to give another layer of pattern and colour
  • used small rollers with several colours to ink the second plate
  • make the background colours even more subdued and subtle and the oak leaf brighter
  • use contrasting transparent colours in each layer for more colour mixing

Things I am pleased with in this print:

  • I like the differing effect of the inks on different papers
  • the subtle colours, using inks I largely made myself
  • the way the shape of the leaves are repeated at different scales in different ways
  • the negative shapes
  • the created pattern
  • the three plates have allowed me to develop my ideas and use of inks as I printed
  • in spite of using different presses, struggling with dampness and ink not drying, I produced a consistent edition of 15 good prints

I am disappointed with:

  • I had real problems getting prints to dry, and the paper suffered, due to the damp conditions at the studio
  • the design is  a bit dull.

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.

1 Response to Project 7 – Multiplate print. Overlaying patterns

  1. Pingback: Silk Aquaprint Experiment | OCA Printmaking 1

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