Pen drawing on a lino block of a fluffy cat walking through plants and flowers with leaves and seeds in her fur.

how to make a lino block part one by ansari prints.

How I transfer my design onto the Lino block

I thought I’d just share some snippets of my lino printing process and break it down into stages. This is my preferred method and it very much depends upon what suits you and the materials that you have at hand. Over time I have found that I change my printmaking process to develop my practice and make things a little more interesting or more efficient. This post is sharing my process of how I transfer my design onto the Lino block. I use traditional battle ship grey lino which consists of compressed cork mixed with linseed oil. I have used Japanese Vinyl before which is great but I prefer carving traditional lino. I like the way it carves. 

Sanding the Lino Block

It’s a good idea to sand the lino block with some wet and dry sand paper, this really helps when you come to inking up the block and how the lino block excepts the ink. Sanding helps to remove some of the oil residue form the surface of the block. I usually rub it with a little water and wet and dry sand paper, evenly all over until there is a bit of lino paste on the block. I then wipe that off with a damp cloth before I transfer the design. You can also drip some water onto the lino, if the water forms a globules on the surface then it will need a bit more sanding. I then add another drop and if it spreads out then the lino is ready for transferring your design.

Tracing Your Design Onto The Block

For this process video I’ve designed a small block of our lovely little fluffy cat, Skye, she spends a lot of time out at night getting seeds, leaves and sticks stuck in her extremely fluffy coat which she then deposits on my bed. Its a little bit freer than my usual style which I think reflects her laser faire attitude. 

Having got a design or sketch down on paper, I then trace the design onto tracing paper using a soft pencil ie HB or 2B pencil. What’s really important is that if you want your image to print the same way round as your original design, so you need to flip the tracing over so that it’s reversed when transferring onto the block. This is especially important if you have lettering in your design as you don’t want the letters to print backwards!  Next I attach the tracing paper to the lino block with some masking tape making sure I have the pencil side down and then rub the back of the tracing paper with the wrong end of a pen (not the end you write with), occasionally you can lift up one edge of the tracing paper now and again just to see how the pencil is transferring onto the block. You’ll need to press fairly hard.

Once the design is transferred I then go over the transferred lines with a waterproof black liner pen, my preferred make is Uni ball pigment ink pens. 

Some Lino printers prefer drawing directly onto the lino block and that can make really exciting free work. Personally I like to have my design planned out before hand and then tinker with it a bit

on the block with the pigment pen. You can use a fine sharpie. You can use pencil only or paint your design straight on with acrylic paint. The reason I use waterproof ink is that your design is less likely to smudge whilst you are carving. 

This is a very condensed process video to illustrate how I transferred the tracing of ‘Skye’ onto the block reading for carving