Print 1. Project 6: Review

What do you have to take into account in order to create a strong single-colour design?

I’ve found there are several things to think about including:

  • Consider carefully the amount of detail possible.
  • Look at strength, width and quantity of cut line-work.
  • Plan a difference in density between the subject matter and the surround (or background) to draw the eye to the focal point.  If everything looks similar it’s easy for the viewer to wander and not appreciate the composition.
  • Work very precisely to give an impression of differing tones.  Whilst only one ink and the background paper colour can be used, a difference in tone can be perceived, to a certain degree, by more or less ink (and/or cut line-work) within confined spaces.
  • Simplify designs and eliminate excessive detail which may cause the lino to crumble and thus effect the outcome.
  • Choose bold shapes which stand out clearly.
  • Use an appropriately coloured ink to enhance the image and allow the print to be fully appreciated.  In other words, pale colours do not provide enough of a positive effect on white paper for the imagery to stand out.

Can you find suitable new drawing techniques which translate into a linocut that have not been included already?

Having finished this project several days ago, and read the next one, my mind is already churning over multicoloured designs for project 7.

I worked hard to simplify my shoe and shell designs and to differentiate between dark and light areas sufficiently to provide enough appeal in each design.  I worked on this both by hand-drawing and by using Photoshop to alter tones and values.  Effectively, I flattened the images and translated everything into a stylised design, still recognisable as the subject matter I’d chosen but much reduced in detail.

Thinking about project 7, and using more than a single colour, has brought some new thoughts.  I have to select areas to print in different colours and densities, sometimes overprinting.  How has this been done before, and how can I make this task achievable?

PBN 1The first thing that came to me was paint-by-numbers.  Dare I say, it seems like a similar concept?

PBN 2On the lino, just as on paper, areas for different colours have to be outlined and marked, showing which colour is to be printed and in which order.  The lino is then cut accordingly.  In painting, once a colour is mixed it would be used in all the relevant sections before a new colour is mixed and the process is repeated.

So in both disciplines a single colour is applied throughout before changing to the next.  However, in lino printing we have the addition of being able to overlay colours, with them possibly mingling to create others.LS-1

Another technique that routinely has to create blocks where colour is to be applied is long-stitch embroidery.  Here the whole canvas is covered in stitching but the threads are all laid in the same direction following a pattern stamped onto the cloth.  There is scope to embroider further on top of the initial design, so adding or mixing colours.

SG-1Stained glass window makers also have to plan areas where each piece of coloured glass will sit.  Of course they need to account for lead placement, but the concept remains the same.SG-2



When using glass, size and shape of pieces has to be planned as not everything will work out.  With lino the same considerations have to be made when planning the amount of area to cut away and how big remaining sections need to be to avoid crumbling.

So I’ve explored a little and seen other crafts that are required to plan sizing and placement quite accurately to achieve workable results.  Each one shows me a clear method of drawing a ‘blocked’ design first, applying colour to the relevant spaces and reviewing and simplifying where necessary before working on a full-sized template.

One could even stretch this idea to encompass picture quilts. appliqué, cross-stitch, and many other pursuits that build designs through the placing of individual coloured blocks or strips to form cohesive art pieces.


Paint-by-numbers pictures from:


About Claire B

I'm a passionate printmaker, paper-maker and a poor sketcher (which I'm working to improve). I've stitched from early childhood and am a perpetual student, loving learning and participating in everything creative.
This entry was posted in Print 1: Assignment 2, Print 1: Project & Course Reviews, Printmaking 1 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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