Beginner's Guide To Block Printing Patterns: Part 1 | Jeslyn Sebold | Skillshare

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Beginner's Guide To Block Printing Patterns: Part 1

teacher avatar Jeslyn Sebold

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (44m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Set Limits

    • 3. Sketch

    • 4. Full Drop: Transfer & Test

    • 5. Full Drop: Carve

    • 6. Full Drop: Prep & Print

    • 7. Half Drop: Transfer & Test

    • 8. Half Drop: Prep & Print

    • 9. Your Turn

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About This Class

This class is a comprehensive guide to using block prints to design four different patterns. 

Together, we will walk through the entire process including gathering inspiration, sketching, and using our sketches to create four different pattern designs. 

You will learn:

--Gather inspiration and create sketches surrounding a theme of your choice

--How to incorporate the finished sketches into four different types of pattern

Making block print patterns is a great way to use up linoleum scraps laying around your studio and a great way to create a stash of simple icons you can use in the future.

Follow me on Instagram @jeslynkate and share your class project with the hashtag #jeslynskillshare. Learn more about me on my website

Meet Your Teacher


Hi there! I'm Jeslyn, an independent illustrator from Florida. I love to create whimsical artwork that captures emotion. My work is characterized by multiple layers of color and texture.


I am passionate about incorporate printmaking techniques into all of my work. It helps me create those layers of texture and detail all while giving me the space to experiment.  If you'd like to some of my work, check out my website at


In my classes, I will be sharing the basic techniques for pulling prints and what to do with them so you can use them as building blocks to incorporate into your own artwork.


I am looking forward to getting to know you and helping you on your journey to becoming a... See full profile

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1. Intro: Hi. My name is Dust Lynn. I'm a full time freelance illustrator and printmaker. My work has, ah, whimsical textural nature to it, due to the printmaking skills that I regularly apply to my work. So you can see samples of that on my Web site at www dot Dustin kate dot com or on my instagram at just one Kate. In this class, we're going to discuss how to effectively use block printing to create patterns that you can incorporate into your own work, or you can use the patterns on their own. So this class is going to require some knowledge of printmaking. If you haven't watched my beginner's guide toe, Leno cuts class yet, I would recommend taking the time to do that first. Before you dive into this class, that being said in this class, we're gonna walk through two different ways to create repeat patterns by hand. By the time you're done, you're gonna have to different patterns that you can use for art. For scrapbooking, for creating your own wrapping paper or for stamping fabric. We're gonna work from the simplest pattern design and then step it up to the next, more complicated pattern design. This is a great way to build a stash of patterns to use and to use up some scarf linoleum pieces that you might have laying around your studio. Alright, it's time to grab your sketchbook and some sketching tools so that we can get started. 2. Set Limits: before we get into the nitty gritty of specific pattern breakdowns, let's take a minute to set ourselves up for success, although it's really tempting to dive in and just create whatever comes to your mind. First, I've often found that I'm more satisfied with my end result if I take a minute to plan ahead. For me, this means taking time to focus my design around theme. So by limiting myself to a theme, I can narrow my options. And I don't spend ages in the research phase of a project. Take a moment to jot down a list of things that feel interesting to you right now, so it can be something like, um, kitchen tools or herbs or forest animals or vehicles or a specific kind of flower anything that you can use to try and limit yourself so that you don't get stuck in the research phase. So now take a little time to choose from your list what seems most interesting to you, and then save the rest of the lists for another time or another project. These lists You come in handy later on when you need some inspiration. Once you've done this set a timer for around an hour of research. This is the time when you're going to break your theme into elements that we can create icons out of. So, for example, my theme that I'm choosing is called Winter Forest. Um, so for my research, I'm going to spend some time thinking about the kinds of things that I might incorporate into a theme like this so I might choose things like evergreen trees or holly or cardinals or bears. Since I'm a list person, I tend to jot down a second list of quick ideas that might fit into the theme that I have chosen before diving into the wide world of the Internet. Then I will use my second list of items or elements that I can use within my theme. Then I will use the second list of possible elements from the theme as a guide to build a mood board for my project. So when you build a mood board, you can use all kinds of different things. You can do it by hand if you want to. If you're old school or you can use Pinterest or Evernote, or you can use a folder that you have saved to your computer. I tend to use a folder because it's easy to keep everything in one place and then archive or delete it when I don't need it anymore. When I'm researching online, I look for lots of things, including color, palettes, shapes, styles of artwork that I'm drawn to, maybe lettering, even anything that really inspires me for this particular pattern. I'm going to save into this folder when I'm satisfied with my whole. I take a minute to look carefully over what I've put together, and I asked myself some questions like, Are there any particular colors that reappear multiple times? Is there a specific element that I'm really excited about doing? It's things like this that I am taking mental notes of as I go through the images I've collected. So when I start to sketch in my sketchbook, I have a very clear direction of where I'm going. So I want you to take a minute now that you have spent an hour or so researching and making your lists, whatever your brainstorming phase is for you and see what comes up. Is there a color that comes up? Is there a particular element that you're really excited about. Take notes on this so that whenever you start to sketch, you also have a really clear picture. 3. Sketch: Welcome back. Now that you have your theme solidified, I encourage you to set your timer for an hour and give yourself permission to play, grab whatever media you want and get started. I like to work using cut paper and paint and pencil and pen. I kind of use a little bit of everything in this phase just because I love to make a mess and play with all the different materials. I encourage you to try that, too. It's very free, but if that's not your style, I totally understand. So I've gone ahead and sped up this process of working in my sketchbook just so you can enjoy the different steps and see how I go about designing and planning for the future patterns that we're going to be creating together. So sit back and enjoy that. 4. Full Drop: Transfer & Test: before you get started, go ahead and gather your supplies. You're going to need linoleum blocks, some tape, a pencil, a Sharpie and some tracing paper, as well as the sketches you completed in the previous lesson. Ah, full drop repeat pattern is the first pattern we are going to go over in this class. This pattern lends itself really well to bigger, chunkier icons. Choose between one and three in order to get started. For this pattern, I'm choosing to animal icons, and I'm combining each icon with a snowflake as well. This fits in nicely with my winter theme. Now full drop repeat pattern lines up both vertically and horizontally, and if you look at it, it looks almost like soldiers standing in a row. So that's something to keep in mind as you're choosing your icons, what's gonna look good evenly spaced on a big sheet of paper or fabric? You can see, as I've been going on that I have chosen my icons and now in tracing them on a sheet of paper, I always do this before I pull a print because it makes it much easier for me to transfer, and in this case, It will also make it easy for me to test my pattern to make sure it works the way I envision it. Working once I'm finished tracing each icon. I taped them together. Exactly how I want them to appear on my pattern, at least space horizontally across. Now I need to test my pattern and make sure that it's gonna look the way that I want to, both horizontally and vertically. But I went ahead and I trace just basic outline a second time on another piece of paper so I can kind of fiddle with it and test what my icons look like space vertically as well as horizontally. Once I get them exactly where I want them, I will transfer them over to linoleum. I have four different samples of linoleum here. Each one is a scrap from a different project that I have done previously. And I'm trying to figure out which ones will best fit my two icons. I've decided I'm gonna go ahead and use the big gray block for the bear. So I'm gonna go ahead and take that face down so I can transfer that over, and I'm gonna choose a separate block for the swan. That way, if I decide later on, I just want to do a pattern with Onley, swans and snowflakes. I can't. Or if I want to do a little greeting cards. It just opens up a whole different realm of possibilities. If I keep these two icons separate to transfer my drawing to my block, um, using a ballpoint pen, although this takes a little bit of time, I prefer to do it this way because it's very precise. Even if my transfer does come out a little bit light, I can always go over it with a Sharpie and that will keep my marks from smudging or fading away as I carved. But I really like having this baseline transfer before I ever get the Sharpie out because it makes my lines feel more precise. When I removed the tracing paper for my little and block, I noticed that my transfer was a little bit light. That's okay. There is enough information here that I could just go over it with Sharpie and then I'll fill in the rest the details as I carve. Now that I've gone over all of my lines with Sharpie, this little guy is ready to be carved 5. Full Drop: Carve: I haven't talked a whole lot about carving in very many of my previous videos. Just because I feel like carving is a little bit like drawing. Once you kind of figure out how to use your tools, you fall into your own rhythm and routine for me. What I like to do is I like to start in one area and use all of my different tools to carve out one area. And then I move on to the next area I know, especially for beginners. It's recommended to go through and try and carve all of your big spaces first so that you can stick with one tool and then you slowly get down to smaller and smaller tools. I did start this way, but I have just gotten so comfortable with the toolkit that I have that I like to just do my own thing as I'm carving. And for me, my own thing is completing one whole area at a time, using the entire set of tools before moving on to the next area. I've split the screen so you can see that. Ah, as I carve both of thes icons, I treat them the same even though they're different shapes and they have all kinds of different patterns on them. When I was first learning how to carve, I used to watch my mentor car of all these different pieces and icons, and she would really challenge me. She would even start without a drawing sometimes and just go for it. I'm still not confident enough to do that like she can do, but I have gotten to where I don't draw in as many of the details of four carving as I used Teoh. I have learned how to use my tools to the best advantage so that I can create all kinds of different patterns and attack all kinds of different shapes with each tool. That's the beauty I think of carving icons versus entire images sometimes is you get the chance to really experiment with your tools and get more comfortable with, Um, because I feel like if you mess up a small icon like this versus a full on illustration, it's a little less daunting to go back and start over. I hope you'll take the time to watch me car of these two icons to get even more of a sense of how to use some of your tools. Maybe I have some tips and tricks here that you hadn't thought of in different ways to use your tools. It's that that that when carving icons, I highly highly recommend taking the time to cut them into silhouette shapes. This really helps if you choose to use them in a bunch of different ways because you'll be able to see your registration more easily. Also, I recommend what I'm doing on the left, where I'm testing my icon to make sure that all my patterns air coming out as I want them before I commit to that silhouette shape. All these details take a little bit of extra time, but it saves you a lot more time in the long run, - and now we have to carve icons that are ready to be printed 6. Full Drop: Prep & Print: although it carved my icon separately. I want to keep them together for the purpose of this print. So I have a scrap piece of cardboard that I am double checking to make sure that my icons fit nicely on there without leaving too much room. I'm trying to get them spaced exactly how I want them to appear in my pattern to make sure that my registration is very simple. Now I have to choose what I want to use to adhere these to the cardboard If I want them permanently attached, I could use carpet tape, which is really sticky and double sided. Or I can use just Elmer school glue. If I want something that I'm gonna be able to peel up later for me, I'm gonna opt for the Elmer School glue because I want to be able to use these icons separately in the future, as I stated before. So just go ahead. If this is the same boat that you're in and kind of smear some glue on the back of them, be generous with the glue. As long as you're using a water based glue such as Elmer School Glue, you'll be able to get your icon off of the cardboard when you're done printing. The key to this working well is to give your icons time to dry. So if you are going this route where you've carpeting separately and I you're gluing them in place like I am, you need to give it at least 3 to 4 hours to dry really thoroughly before you start to print. Once you're icons of had time to dry, you can take some time to mix your ink. I prefer to use oil based inks such as graphic, chemical and in company, because I like the way that the ink adheres to the paper and gives you a really rich look versus water based ink that gives you more of a watercolor look. You can see I'm mixing two colors here, going to be using white paper to pull this print. But I don't want my background to be white, so I'm mixing a separate color for the background that I'm going to roll onto the paper first, and then I will go back with the second color and actually print my icons. Now that my colors are mixed and ready, I'm ready to roll up my breakers. I took the extra time while I was mixing my colors toe warm up my ink to make sure I get a nice even spread across the paper. Whenever I start printing my background color, I chose a prayer. That's a pretty small size compared to the paper that I'm using, because I wanted not only to add background color to this white paper, but some texture as well. So you can see as I'm rolling in all different directions. There's some nice texture starting to happen on my paper. Once I have achieved the texture, a desire, I'm ready to start pulling my print, I remember with a full drop pattern. Everything is evenly spaced both vertically and horizontally. So for this pattern, it doesn't matter if you choose to print in vertical rows or horizontal rows, as long as everything is stacked on top of each other and stacked next to each other, it's a proper full drop pattern. Now that the rows of this have come together, you can see that everything is very evenly spaced, just like those soldiers I was talking about pretty easy to achieve, right, so now let's step it up a notch by creating 1/2 drop pattern 7. Half Drop: Transfer & Test: to create 1/2 drop pattern, go back to your sketchbook and choose about 1 to 3 icons. I chose three different rabbits for my half drop pattern, and I spruced them up a little bit by adding a jacket toe one and scarf admittance to my other two. This gives him the winter fuel that fits with the theme that I chose. Now, before I start transferring this image to carve onto a block, I will take the time to test it by tracing the outline of thes three rabbits on separate sheets of paper and then laying them next to each other to see how I want them stacked in my final pattern. So take a minute to do this, either by hand or you can use a copy machine or your at home printer. If it has copying abilities for me, I'm going to trace this rabbit design two times and lay them next to each other to make sure that the close proximity of each rabbit doesn't look too busy but still fills the page in a way that satisfies me Now. I doubled this so I could lay out three different rows of this pattern to really see it work. I was worried that it was going to look too busy with all of the little rabbit stacked closely to each other. However, I found that I really liked the design. So now it's time to clean up this and transfer everything to a piece of linoleum. For this pattern, I am still using scraps of linoleum. As I stated before, I'm a big believer in if you buy some supplies, you should use them all up. I got really lucky this time and found a block of linoleum that fits all three rabbits together to transfer my rabbits onto my block. I'm taking my tracing paper and taping it face down onto the block, and then I will use a pencil to go over all of my lines, which should give me a really nice light transfer that I can then go over with Sharpie. Take your time with this part of the process, because this is the map you're going to essentially be using to carve your final image. Although my transfer came out a little bit light, I feel confident enough about thes icons to just go ahead and trace over what I have with a Sharpie, you will notice if you look at my pencil sketch versus the final image on with Sharpie that I did save a lot of the little fiddly details until I was actually working with the Sharpie . This is because I'm comfortable with this part of the process, and I don't see the point and redrawing something multiple times at this stage for me, if you're not comfortable yet with this, that's OK. Once you have finished transferring your design and going over all of your details in Sharpie, it's time to start carving. I personally like to start with each icon, carving out all the detail inside the icon and then going back and carving around the dead space. Give me a nice graphic look, and it also helps me work my way across the bloc without feeling unorganized by going back and forth across big spaces, carving as probably one of the most painstaking parts of the printmaking process. But in my opinion, it's also the most important. This is the template that you're using to create whatever peace you have in your mind's eye . So really, take your time and carve something that you're going to be proud of because this is going to be a reflection of your final piece. When I'm finished carving my rabbits and all the space around them, I'm going to take the time to cut them roughly into a silhouette shape. This helps me with the registration whenever imprinting my pattern, because I will know where one rabbit ends and where the next one begins. So we'll have a better idea of where to place my block each time I would highly recommend, especially if you're doing more complex pattern like this one doing the same thing. It takes a little extra time, but in the long run, it's really worth it. 8. Half Drop: Prep & Print: before printing, you need to mix up your ink for these rabbits. I'm gonna mix up a neutral brown color. And in order to achieve that quickly, I am using a little bit of oil paint as well as my Usual Inc. Be careful if you're going to use oil paint because it's not a sticky as regular printing ink so it can affect your final print. So just little bits. If we're going to go the oil paint route, you can see it's taking me a minute to get the exact color that I want. Be careful if you don't get the exact color that you want right away. Just keep mixing little bits of ink into the pile of ink You already have. That way, you don't end up wasting ink. Now that I have the color, I want mixed and ready to go. I'm going to start rolling my Breyer through it. Now remember, whenever you roll your Breyer through your inky wanna lift every time you hit the end of your role one way, in the end of it the other way. That way you ensure that you think your entire Breyer also in your ink in your block. Make sure you ink in both directions before you pick it up to print with it. Now I am taking a rag to wipe off any of the access that I don't want, cause I like my prints to look really graphic without having any of the extra little texture in it. From the linoleum Printing 1/2 drop pattern starts exactly the same way as printing a full drop pattern where you want to go ahead and pull one full horizontal wrote of Prince. However, the half drop pattern, unlike a full drop pattern, staggers with each row. So your second row, whether that be above or below the first row you've pulled will be like bricks. You wanna skew chur block in just a little bit, so won't stack perfectly on top of each other like a full drive pattern would. This is what makes the difference between a full drop and 1/2 drop pattern and see that my rabbits, because they're small, they take up a lot of room on the paper. So I've got a really active pattern here, whereas with my full drop pattern, I had the chunkier icon, so there was more even space between them. I really like pulling half drop patterns with smaller icon because it's an easy way to achieve a complex looking pattern. Now that I've got my rose built up, you can see just how easy it is to create 1/2 drop pattern. 9. Your Turn: So once you finish pulling your prints and their dry, there's a lot of things that you can do with them. I like to embellish them to give them more detail with colored pencils or maybe even watercolor. I will often use them in illustrations as well. But around the holidays and four special birthdays, I like to print on big pieces of Kraft paper or colored paper, and use them to wrap gifts for friends and family. They really love that. So now for your assignment, I would love for you to share your favorite pattern or some process images that you've been working on, or any additional patterns or images that really were inspired by this class. I would love to see what you guys have been up to. Happy printing. Also, you next time.