How to Create a Dual Colour Linocut Print
Lino printing allows the creation of printing blocks that with care do not deteriorate over time, allowing for several editions of prints being created. Creating the printing blocks is a fun process, and it’s easy to make work that pops with bold lines and strong colours. By carefully aligning during the printing process, it’s possible to create a lino printed artwork that is made up from multiple different colours. Here, Illustrator Elizabeth Hardy shows how to create a dual colour lino print at home using products available online and in store at Hobbycraft.
1. Print out or draw a design onto paper. Cut up a piece of tracing paper to size for however many layers your lino print will be. I’m doing a red layer and a black layer, so I’ve cut up two pieces. Align the top left hand corner of the tracing paper and the paper to ensure you have the same spacing on each tracing. I have marked the four corners of the design on each piece of tracing paper to help realign if I accidentally move the tracing paper as I draw. Alternatively, tape the paper and tracing paper down as you draw with masking tape.
3. Using tracing paper and pencil, trace over the design. Do this for however many colour layers and pieces of lino you are using, drawing out only the sections that you’d like each colour layer to include.
4. Turn the tracing paper over onto the lino, and now instead ensure that you are aligning the top right hand corner of the lino and tracing paper, as we will be carving out a mirror image. Repeat for each piece of lino.
5. Scribble on the back of the paper over the lines that you have drawn until they have all transferred onto the lino. Repeat for each piece of lino.
6. Go over the sections that you’ll want to keep uncut with a black sharpie so that these lines do not rub off.
7. Begin cutting the lino. I advise using a small ‘v’ blade with your lino cutter as this will give the cleanest lines. Cut around the lines of the design.
Safety note! Always cut away from you and keep your hands below the direction of cutting so that you do not accidentally stab your hand with the cutter. This feels unnatural at first but it is very important!
8. Use a shallower and wider ‘u’ blade to cut out the rest of the unwanted lino in the bigger areas.
9. Once all lino pieces are cut, it’s time to print! Place one of the pieces of lino onto the centre of your work surface and mark all edges carefully using masking tape. This is so that no matter which piece of lino you print, they will all line up.
10. Measure the lino piece on a piece of A4 or A3 paper. It is best practice to have slightly more room underneath the print than at the top. Use these measurements to mark out again on your work surface where each corner of your paper will go when printing. This is so that no matter which piece of lino or paper you’re printing, they will all line up.
11. Starting with the lightest colour first, begin to print. Pour about a 10p size amount of printing ink onto a wipe clean surface (I use a sheet of glass), and use the brayer to roll out. Roll out until tacky – less is more.
12. Apply to the intended lino piece, adding layers of printing ink until completely covered.
13. Place the inked lino piece into the guide you created earlier with the masking tape. Take a piece of paper, and gently lower down from one corner to another, being sure to align with the outer guide you created earlier with the masking tape. Press down and do not move the paper.
14. Use a burnishing tool to smooth the paper onto the inked lino piece, working for around 30 seconds to one minute. I use the back of an old wooden spoon for this.
15. Pull the paper off slowly, and set aside to dry. Repeat this step for however many editions you want to create. Remember to create a few extra for prints that inevitably are not quite correctly aligned or inked up sufficiently. Once finished, wash the lino piece clean with water and dry – the beauty of lino is that you can use this again to create a new edition in future.
16. Once all first layer prints are dry, it’s time for the darker line work print. Pour out the black ink and roll out, applying to your lino piece as before.
Top tip! If you see any inked up lino that you don’t want to be there, you can carefully remove them at this point using the lino cutting tool. This can get a bit messy, though!
17. Place the inked lino piece into the guide, and a first layer print on top, burnishing in the same way as before.
18. Pull the paper off slowly, and check the alignment of the print. If you are unhappy with anything in the design at this point then you can go ahead and alter the lino piece before you continue to complete the edition.
19. Once happy, continue to print the rest of the edition, and leave to dry. Make sure to wash the lino piece clean with water and dry after, as you can keep and reuse to create another edition in the future.