Linocut Carving Strategies for Novices

Linocut: Study in a Weekend is a brand new guide by Margate primarily based linocut artist and printmaker, Nick Morley. Revealed by Skittledog (an imprint of Thames & Hudson Ltd.) the guide guides you thru the instruments and supplies you will want, and offers numerous tasks to get you began. Beneath is a chapter from the guide that outlines the varied linocut carving strategies you should use to familiarise your self with linocutting earlier than you make a begin.


Linocut Carving Techniques

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Linocut: Study in a Weekend – Linocut Carving Strategies

Textual content by Nick Morley | Images by Rita Platts

Carving lino may be very enjoyable; some individuals discover it virtually addictive. Like several talent, it takes apply to construct up your confidence. Earlier than you deal with any of the tasks I recommend you carve a take a look at block to get used to the instruments, and check out all of the totally different strategies that observe. The tasks every use a number of of those strategies. You may refer again to this part at any time if you happen to want a reminder.


What You Will Want

• Lino block

• Everlasting marker pen or acrylic paint

• Paper towel

• Reducing instruments

• Non-slip mat


Begin by making a take a look at block to experiment with carving a wide range of marks and to get a really feel for the totally different instruments. You should use the instance on web page 21 as a information however be at liberty to check out your personal concepts. Don’t fear about making your marks appear like a coherent design, consider it extra like a sampler which you’ll refer again to. After you have completed carving your take a look at block, print it by following the directions within the Printing part.

Earlier than you begin, color within the floor of the block with the marker pen or brush some acrylic paint diluted with water onto the floor after which wipe it off with a paper towel. You need simply sufficient to stain the floor, with out leaving any bumps or ridges of paint. This stage is elective, however makes it simpler to see your carved marks. The elements of the lino you take away are going to be white, assuming you might be printing on white paper. Colouring the block helps your mind get used to this, because the elements you carve out will seem lighter than the uncut areas.


Linocut Carving Techniques


Linocut Carving Security

The instruments are sharp, so to keep away from reducing your self, at all times carve away out of your fingers and away out of your physique. You have to to carry the lino along with your second hand, so be sure you are holding it to the aspect or behind your reducing device. Place a non-slip mat underneath the block when you find yourself carving to cease it transferring round.


Holding the Instruments

Maintain the device so the deal with is within the centre of your palm. Your fingers needs to be pretty relaxed, along with your first finger pointing straight down the shaft. Ensure that the device is the fitting approach up, with the leading edge pointing straight down.

The angle you maintain the device at will decide whether or not the reducing tip strikes ahead in a stage approach as you push on the device, or strikes up or down. By elevating or decreasing your wrist you’ll be able to management this. Increase your wrist barely to make a steeper angle and the device will go deeper into the lino. Decrease your wrist to make a shallower angle to carry the reducing tip again up in the direction of the floor. In between you need to discover the precise angle at which the device travels ahead in a steady line. This angle could range between instruments.


The precise angle you could maintain the device will range barely relying on which device you might be utilizing.


Two frequent issues can occur right here. If the device goes too deep it will possibly begin to tear the lino, and even get caught fully. If this occurs, decrease your wrist barely to carry the reducing tip up. However, if the device retains skidding and you’re feeling that you simply’re not 
in management, carry your wrist up barely so the reducing 
tip goes down. These changes are refined and take 
slightly time to grasp, nevertheless it’s higher to practise now 
so you’ll be able to management your reducing once you do your 
first undertaking.

You will see that that you need to push more durable with the bigger instruments, as you might be eradicating extra lino. Attempt to push the device along with your complete arm, utilizing your physique weight to generate the pressure. If you use the smaller instruments or make shallower cuts, you want much less pressure – a small motion of the wrist could also be sufficient. Your reducing method will develop over time, however do attempt to preserve all the things relaxed as a lot as doable … and keep in mind to breathe!


Linocut Carving Techniques


Take a look at Block Print Key

1. Diversified widths of line made by totally different instruments. Discover how the 2 ends of every line you carve are formed by the device. Prime to backside: 1 mm U, 3 mm U, 5 mm U, 1 mm V, massive V (shallow reduce), massive V (deep reduce).

2. Traces with a sq. finish. Prime to backside: 3 mm U, 5 mm U, massive V.

3. Curved traces. Prime to backside: 1 mm V, 1 mm U, 3 mm U.

4. Diversified width line made with massive V.

5. Circle made with 3 mm U.

6. Dots. Prime to backside: 1 mm U, 3 mm U, 5 mm U.

7. Semicircles made with 3 mm and 5 mm U. Triangles made with massive V.

8. Stars made with massive V.

9–10. Giant V.

11. Giant V carving with sideways and up-and-down movement.

12. Giant U semicircles.

13. 1 mm U wavy traces.

14. Giant V tapered traces.

15–17. 3 mm U.

18. 1 mm V.

19–21. 5 mm U.


Carving a straight line

Practise making straight, even traces of various lengths in your take a look at block with every of your instruments. An excellent width of line is finest made with a U-shaped device, with the dimensions of device figuring out the width. Use the massive V-shaped device to chop a wide range of widths of line, together with a really nice line.


Diversified width of line

By various the depth of the device you can also make the road wider or narrower. That is particularly efficient with the V-shaped device. Increase and decrease your wrist as you carve. Strive a curved line by transferring your wrist backward and forward in addition to up and down.


Making a line with a sq. finish

As an alternative of decreasing your wrist on the finish of a line, cease the device the place you need the road to finish, leaving the lino shaving hooked up to the block. Carry the reducing tip straight again about 2–3mm. Elevate the reducing tip to bend the lino shaving up and over till it breaks off.

Linocut Carving Techniques


Carving a circle

To make a circle or a pronounced curve, rotate the block as you carve. This system is simpler with a U-shaped device and with out the non-slip mat. Lean into the device and push the block in opposition to it along with your different hand, being cautious to not reduce in the direction of your fingers. Rotate the block as you chop, protecting your reducing hand regular.


Curved traces

Light curves may be made by transferring your wrist or arm left and proper as you chop forwards. Extra pronounced curves could require you to maneuver your complete physique. Attempt to preserve your hand stage as you progress, so the reducing tip of the device stays upright.

Linocut Carving Techniques


Little semicircles and triangles

To make a semicircle, maintain the U-shaped device at 45 levels and stick it into the lino, then pull it again out midway. Elevate the device to bend the piece of lino again on itself till it breaks off. Triangles may be made in the identical approach as semicircles, however utilizing a big V-shaped device.



You may make different-sized dots utilizing every of the U-shaped instruments. Maintain the device at 45 levels and stick it into the lino slightly approach, then maintain the device regular when you rotate the block round it in a circle. The dots won’t at all times be completely spherical, however with slightly apply you may get them fairly shut.

Linocut Carving Techniques



To make a star, carve inwards from the tip of every level of the star in the direction of the centre utilizing the massive V-shaped device. Maintain the device at a steep angle so the purpose goes down in the direction of the centre of the star.



Textual content Copyright © 2023 Nick Morley
Images Copyright © 2023 Rita Platts
Linocut: Study in a Weekend printed by Skittledog (an imprint of Thames & Hudson Ltd.)



Additional Studying

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Sharpening Linocut Instruments

Prime Linocut Suggestions From Main Printmakers

5 Really useful Pfeil Instruments for Linocut


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