How to lino print: A DIY crafters guide
Lino printing is a simple but effective technique to create everything from art prints to feature in your home to designs on greetings cards for friends and family.
If you’ve been considering trying lino printing, read our step-by-step guide below.
What is lino printing?
Lino printing involves carving a design into a piece of linoleum, coating it with ink and then transferring it onto a material of your choice. The carved out areas of the lino create negative space in your design and the deeper you carve, the bolder this white space will be.
It’s an art form that the likes of Picasso and Henri Matisse used in their work - so you’ll be amongst the greats when you master it!
How to lino print
Here, we’ve featured some steps to follow, so you can try your hand at lino printing and create your very own mini printmaking studio from the comfort of your own home.
Linoprint materials and tools you will need
- Linoleum block or sheet - Choose an easy cut lino that makes it easier to carve out your desired design. You can buy these in a range of sizes (square blocks, A3, A4 and A5) as well as multipacks of 12 or 24.
- Lino cutting tools - This tool typically has a plastic handle with interchangeable tips.
- A smooth surface - You will use this to roll your ink out before applying it to your linocut. A sheet of glass from a picture frame is a good example, just tape up the edges to protect your hands.
- Rubber roller - Use this to transfer the ink onto your linocut. You can use another dry roller to press the linocut down onto your material.
- Your chosen material - This could be paper, card or a piece of lightweight fabric.
- A heavy item to press onto the linocut - You can buy block printing presses but as you get to grips with the technique a heavy book works just as well. Some people also like to use a rubber spoon to press on the linocut and spread the ink evenly.
How to create a linocut
- Take your lino and draw your design onto this lightly with a pencil. Bear in mind that when you print, it will be a mirror image so amend your design if necessary - especially if you wish to feature words.
- Shade in the areas you want to cut out, to create negative space in your design.
- Take your lino cutting tool and carefully scrape and chisel out your design. It’s a good idea to practice and play around with your cutting tool beforehand. Work out which tips you prefer to use and the type of cuts they make.
- Carve away from your body and fingers to protect them, should the tool slip.
- Try to keep your cuts even. Don’t press too hard straight away, it’s best to make shallow cuts and grooves that you can add more depth to later.
Lino printing step by step
Step 1: Lay your sheet of paper or material flat, on a smooth, protected surface.
Step 2: Roll a thin layer of ink over your piece of glass, keep rolling until it is evenly distributed. Then apply the ink on the roller to your linocut.
Step 3: Turn your linocut over and press this onto your paper or material. Place a heavy item on the linocut and press down. You can also use a clean rubber roller to push the linocut down to ensure the ink is evenly transferred.
Step 4: Remove your linocut and you should be left with a printed design on your paper or material. You may need to carve more of your linocut to create clearer lines. Lino printing can require some trial and error to get your design just right.
Step 5: Wash away the ink on your linocut, you can then reuse it to make more prints!
Easy lino print designs
Pinterest is a great starting point when looking for inspiration and lino print ideas you can replicate while practising the technique. Below, we’ve featured some simple design ideas you can practice with.
Tree silhouette - Carve out the silhouette of a tree. Choose to use black ink and the carved out trunk and branches will create a stunning contrast.
Christmas bauble - Etch a simple bauble shape featuring chevron patterns into your lino, then use red ink to create a striking print.
Leaves - You can create designs featuring leaves in different shapes and sizes. Use orange and red ink for an autumnal inspired print.
Geometric shapes - Create an abstract print with lots of geometric shapes carved into your lino.
Now it’s time to give lino printing a go. Pick up the materials you need at Specialist Crafts and get started!