Linoprint with Laser Engraving Workshop

From CoMakingSpace Wiki

part of our You can make it program

Linoprints or Linocuts are a very old form of printmaking, see here for examples. The principal works very much like a stamp: You remove material from the surface of a linol plate, color the remaining service with a paint roller, and then press the linocut on a medium (mostly paper) to obtain a print. Classically, these cuts where made with carving tools. In this workshop though, we will use precision tools to engrave linol plates, which allows to create sophisticates artworks in a short time. You need no prior knowledge, and no artistic skills are necessary. As a beginner, you can use motives from the Internet, as an intermediate you can edit your own photos to get a print, if you are sufficiently skilled in Illustration, you can create your own images!

What do you need for this workshop:

  • A laptop with either vector or photo editing software installed (see section "Preparation")
  • Some time to search for motives or to create your own.

The workshops starts with a general introduction that explains the process in detail. Afterwards, each print goes through three stages:

  1. Preparing the motive using your laptop
  2. Engraving the motive on linol using a laser cutter
  3. Creating several prints from the linol cut

Included in the registration fee is a 8cm by 16cm plate that can be subdivided however you like, plus enough paper to print the whole plate several times. Additional plates or plates of larger size are available, but we would kindly ask for a donation to cover the additional costs.

Preparing for the course

Getting your setup ready

Before the course, please make sure your laptop has an imaging program of your choice installed. You need only relatively simple tools: On Windows, a combination of and Inkscape (If you want to try your hand at vector imaging) will perform perfectly well, and these will also be used during the demonstration. If you are an experienced artist, just bring whatever illustration tool you are comfortable with, as long as it can export png or svg files.

What makes a good print?

Linocut is a surface printing technique, that means you can generally print only one color per print (e.g. black on white). That means, that to get a good print, you need a black and white image (not greyscale, each pixel should be either black or white). Additionally, linocuts should contain continuous areas of black and white. Very small islands, or even patterns of single black or white pixels (so called dithering) will not turn out well in your prints. The Wikipedia page on Linocuts has some excellent examples.

Next, you can select one or several motives. This is optional and can be done during the workshop. If you want to get the most out of it, we recommend that you bring a few ideas so you can start working on the prints quickly.

Selecting a motive: Easy

If you have little experience , go on google image search an look for a motive. Some search words that may help you are "stencil", "silhouette", "linocut", or "illustration". Select a few images that you would like to experiment with, and save them to your laptop. If the image you get is not black and white yet, go ahead and and experiment with your graphics software to get a good black and white print. You will receive more tips and assistance at the workshop.

Selecting a motive: Advanced

If you have experience with illustration, you can easily design and illustrate your own motives either as vectors (which have perfect resolution) or as a rasterized image. Be aware of the final size of your print and limit the detail of your motive accordingly. The laser engraver can create extremly high resolutions, but printing these can be difficult and requires careful application of ink on the motive. Since we will only be engraving (laser line cuts have no real use in linoprints as they are to fine to print properly), the end result should be exported as a png anyway to prevent some of the more sophisticated problems that can arise during laser engraving. Please export the image as a standard rgb image with the default Adobe RGB color space, these images play nice with the engraving software.

The Workshop Day

On the day of the workshop, please be punctual, as the start will not be delayed. All of the following steps will be explained in detail during the workshop, and staff will assist you with the execution, so don't be afraid!

The Tutorial

During a 30 Minute tutorial, you will learn about Linocuts, see some examples, and learn how to prepare your images for the engraving proccess, and how to make clean prints. We will also show you a few easy techniques to edit motives you got from the internet to your liking.

Preparing your motive

After the tutorial, you get to prepare your image for the engraving process, if you haven't already. Personell will be available to coach you, and check your file before the engraving process. Once your file is ready, you will upload it to the engraving computer.

Engraving the image

At the laser engraver, staff will prepare your image to be engraved. This step requires knowledge of the software and the engraver and thus cannot be performed by the participants. You will see how to layout the files and calibrate and home the laser, and watch the laser engrave the image. The result is a Linol plate with several motives, that can be cut apart using scissors by the participants.

Printing the image

Finally, the image is printed. The first step is to clean the print with a brush to remove debris from the engraving process. Afterwards, you select the color of your print and mix the appropriate colors. Using a paint roller, the plate is then colored and pressed against a piece of paper to create a print. You will have to experiment with the amount of paint and pressure to use, but you will see increases in print quality quickly. Expect to print a few copies and number them, if you feel fancy!