Block Printing Like a Boss | Emma Woodthorpe | Skillshare

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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

10 Lessons (36m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Carving Practice

    • 4. Principles of Relief Printing

    • 5. Transferring an Image

    • 6. Creating a 'Register'

    • 7. Single Colour Prints

    • 8. Multi-Coloured Prints

    • 9. Project Options and Adding Value

    • 10. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Hello and welcome to this class on Block Printing Like a Boss, where we will be learning: how to block print; all about the different tools, materials and techniques you can use; and the types of projects that you can create using the skills learned in this class.

  • To accompany this class I have created a workbook that keeps a track of everything we will cover in the class, and you can find this in the 'Your Project' tab.



I have also created a  Pinterest page that is full of block printing inspiration. Please do not copy any of the works pinned, the page is intended to give you inspiration about the types of effects you can create using block printing. Use this inspiration to create unique works of your own. Find the link below.


To create your own block print for this class you wil need:

  • Block cutting tools (I use Pfeil carving tools, but beginners tools with interchangeable heads are fine too)
  • A bench hook, or a hand safety guard - safety is the most important thing when carving.
  • A carving block: either lino or soft cut blocks. If you are a beginner and especially if you are using tools with interchangeable heads I recommend soft cut rubber.
  • Block / lino printing ink or a raised ink stamping pad.
  • Ink Roller
  • Paper or card
  • A soft leaded pencil
  • Tracing paper
  • A brayer or wooden spoon to transfer your image to your cutting block

Some extras you might eventually need are:

  • Soft leaded coloured pencils, or pastel pencils (for two colour prints)
  • A permanent marker
  • A craft knife
  • Masking tape
  • Sandpaper (for sanding the surgace of grey lino to make the ink stick better)
  • A sharpening tool (for keeping a sharp cutting edge)

Find the Pinterest page here:

Pinterest Inspiration Board

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Emma Woodthorpe

Illustrator. Author. Artist.


Hi I'm Emma Woodthorpe, also known on the internet by my business name Embers & Ink! I'm a freelance artist and illustrator based in Sheffield (UK). Using my background in Art and Literature I'm  currently writing and illustrating children's books!

I work in multiple media and have created a range of art using many mediums ranging from charcoal and pastel through to acrylics and oils to pencils and watercolours - and many more!

Find out about the Children's books I've created on my Author Website and follow my Author Instagram page @emmawoodthorpe for regular updates. You can find me on YouTube where I post weekly videos exploring my art and life as a full time creative. You can also join my exclusive gang over on Patreon where I offer a range of exclusive con... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Emma. Welcome to this class on block printing. Like a boss, I'm an artist and I love the whole process of creating Prince. I love how funky and unique the finished results are and how hands on the whole process is from concept right through to princes. I've made this class for everybody, from beginners, right through to the more confident creators and artists so anyone can just jump right in. I've also created some helpful downloads in the project section just to help you. Along with block printing, you can create your own masterpieces on a limited budget, being in control of what you prince, how you prince it's and how many copies of that print that you want, all from the comfort of your own home or studio. In this class, I'll talk you through the types of tools that you can use, but more importantly, I'll show you how to use them safely and effectively. I'll show you tips and tricks and how to create or transform an image suitable for carving , and I'll show you how to reverse that image onto your car medium ready for cutting. There's nothing more annoying than having carved Gourevitch inks and printed it to find it's the reverse of what you needed to be, and we all be. Finally, we will explore together some of the different types of projects. You can use your book printing skills on on your options as an artist at extra value to your printed books. Whatever your project is, I can't wait to see it. So don't forget to add it to the project section of the class, right. We've got a lot to cover, so let's jump into a materials list. 2. Materials: so you don't need a lot of expensive materials to get started. Block printing If you're a beginner, there's some fairly inexpensive tools out there for you to start your journey with, for example, tools like base with interchangeable heads convicted quite cheaply. If you are going down this route, however, I would recommends getting wooden handles interchangeable headed tools because the Woodfield nicer in the hand and it just gets less sweaty. If you're looking to upgrade your tools to something more long lasting and durable, I would recommend these tools by file. They are, ah, high quality carbon tool and a strong enough to carve wood as well as lineup, so they'll see you through any developments in your line of Prince. In Korea, these tools are more expensive but come in a variety of different blade choices. Now this variety can seem a bit overwhelming, but very mind that most relief printing online on rubber uses U shaped gala jizz for removing large amounts of material on the V shaped Galaxies for final details. So with a small selection of maybe 2 to 4 gal JIS ranging from V shaped Galaxies for fine detail on the U shaped Galaxies for removing large amounts of material, you'll be ready to carve almost any image online over a rubber. My tools of choice are that's 7/6 U shaped scoop 9/5 deep U shaped scoop on 15/2 V shaped scoop For fine detail, start with a limited set of these more expensive tools. And then the more you carve, the more you'll know if you need anything more specific or not, there's no need to spend more money than you need to. Before we start talking about the different types of carving blox available, I want to talk to you about safety when carving. Now carving tools are very sharp on when you are pushing pressure behind them. They do have the potential to slip and cause home. This actually happened to me right at the beginning of my block printing journey. I was very eager just to dive right in on As I was carving. I was holding my line it with one hand under carving with the other, whether it'll slipped and cut into my finger down to the bone. Now, needless to say, it's put me off carving for a while but I don't want this to put you off because they're always out there protecting yourself. When Calvin, which I found out about four years later when I just couldn't stay away from block printing anymore. Firstly, always cut away from your body. A tool for the finger is one thing, but till to the belly is quite another. Secondly, get a bench hook or hand safety guard. At least these tools help you to keep your carbon block steady while keeping you out of danger. They are definitely an essential investment, so you're going to need something to call. There are many different types of line. Oh, a rubber carbon block available in many different shapes and sizes. Now lie no or linoleum tends to be great, but you can get to end of colors, and it has a Jew. Backing begins. Tools with the interchangeable heads aren't the best long term choice for Lina, because Lina is hard and denser than rubber, and it does dull your blades quickly. I moved away from all I know because it does dry out over time, and it does become harder to work with, although that being said you do get a really crisp print and carved with line. Oh, so don't write it off completely. I now tend to use soft cut carbon blocks made from rubber. They come in a variety off densities and thicknesses, and generally they hold the line light lineup, but they don't dry out or crumble, and they don't until your blades is quickly, because they reason to carve their suitable for beginners as well as advanced users. And you can easily trim into size with craft knife. And here's a pro tip. When you wanted to store any of your car pieces, either in lineup, all rubber separate them with a piece of card, and it will stop them sticking together. Now, the next thing to think about is ink. As without ink, you can print Traditional oil based inks are beautiful and vibrant, but they can cause problems for the home printer as they require proper ventilation and chemical FINA. Therefore, I don't use them. Soy based inks on safe wash vegetable oil inks are designed to mimic the traditional oil based inks, with the benefit of being able to be washed out with soap and water. Water based inks clean up easily in the same way, but they do tend to dry up quicker than the other options mentioned. So most oil and water based inks that you're going to be using for block printing come in a tube or tub, which you need to spread onto an inking palette. So either gloves for a plastic sheet, and then you roll with a brave like this one in the same ways. When you paint a wall with a roller, you roll the Breyer in the ink until it is thinly and evenly coated, and then you think you're carved image. From there, you can put the paper on on transfer your image to the paper. Another nice. She's a friendly way to ink is by using these stopping parts. They come in a variety of colors on a ridge. Dickie's. The downsides are the amount of plastic using the packaging on the fact that you can't mix them to get a bespoke color. But it's a great way to get started with block printing. If you just want to jump in and get going with regards to paper, think about what your final project will be. So Japanese washing papers have been used for hundreds of years alongside wooden block prints, and they're seen but incredibly strong, and they'd be perfect for something like a framed print. However, you can use watercolor paper drawing paper card, depending on what your projects going to pay. For example, you can create great greeting card projects using block printing, and therefore card would be the suitable master. Finally, to transfer your image onto your carbon median, ready for carving, you're going to need a soft B pencil on a Braille or something to push your paper with to transfer your image onto the carving medium. Some extras you may find useful are soft lady color pencils or pastel pencils, and you can use these for two color print projects, a permanent marker, a craft knife masking tape tracing paper and some paper, which can be used to sun down the surface of the grey liner to make the ink idea better. Also, very mind that the more that you carve the blood to your tools will get so eventually it will be worth investing in the shopping to just to keep a sharp cutting edge 3. Carving Practice: with every project you want to take. It's important to familiarize yourself with your tools and their capabilities without practice and without knowing what your tools capable off, you won't be able to get the most out of them. So I spend some time experimenting, and that's what I'm going to do here. I've got my Ben chicken place and I'm going to practice carving and show you what my favorite tools called like. I'm using a soft cook river blocked potency, and so you can see the marks a time make. I've colors it with permanent marker. This will also give you an indication of how you're carping will look when inked, as the penned areas will be the areas to be inked if this were to be a carved piece of printing. So firstly, I'll show you my V shaped scoop my 15 over to V Shapes. Group V shape scoops are great for details. They create deep, crisp lines. Cross hatching is a great way to create texture. When I'm creating dots, I'm not pushing with my scoop. All I'm doing is twisting it round once the end is in. If you push, you might slip, dashing and dotting is a great way to fill space. If you want to break up a big area of thinking with texture, for example, with the for effect, remember to always get away from yourself and turn your line if you need to. Now use the U shaped scoops. This one is the 7/6 you shape. Scoops are great for removing large amounts of material. You can use them for small details. Bush. The courts won't be is defined because the design for removing large amounts of material they're less suited for fine details. So now I would use the nine of a five scoop. The deeper the angle of the scoop, the more control you've got over the lines that you make. When you're carving, you don't want the angle of your tool to be too deep. If you keep the angle of your tool shallow, you're more likely to cut smoothly. Remember as well that the more you experiment, the more you'll know what you want your tools to achieve in which tools are going to achieve those things. The more you practice, the more confident you will become and will develop your own handling technique and cutting style. In comparison, my multi headed to doesn't have an option for something as sharp Andi defined as my V shaped scoop from file bushed. That being said, the beginners tools do still have the ability to Carl. I know you just need to make sure you practice and are confident using the tools that you've got. Having upgraded my tools to the file tools. I don't feel as comfortable or is confident with the beginners tools anymore, but really, it's just a personal preference. 4. Principles of Relief Printing: Before we start talking about how to transfer any move onto your carbon medium, I'm going to take a minute to talk you through the principles of relief Printing Block printing is a form of relief printing where a car block has in complied to the surface and then he's brought into contact with paper. It's important to very mind that the areas that you carve away and not go to be inked, only the areas that are left raised or in relief will be inked. Hence the name relief printing. So if, for example, I wanted to carve ah, heart print with a solid colored center, I would carve away the surrounding block so that the area I wanted to be inked is left raised. I could add further detail to the raised space that would be picked up in the inking, too. You can see that some of the carved away areas weren't deep enough, so using this is a test print. I could carve more away to refine the image if I wanted to. To give you some inspiration for your block printing, I've created a Pinterest board for you to browse, which I've linked below so you can familiarize yourself with the types of effects that can be achieved. The aim of this board is not copy, but to provide you with inspiration at the starting point for your own future projects. 5. Transferring an Image: So transferring your image as you've just seen, you can draw directly onto your car for medium, be it line. Oh, would rubber. But what if you've already got an image you want to transfer like a photo or a previously completely don't work Well, this is where you're tracing paper and just soft lady pencil. Come in. Get the image that you want to transfer. Place your tracing paper over it, then trace your image in soft lady pencil. Once you've done this in virtual tracing paper onto your carving medium pencil, lead side down. Then on the back of the paper, scribble over with another pencil or burnish with a hard edge. This will transfer the lead of your traced image onto your carbon medium, and it's now ready to carve. The image on your lineup is a reverse image to the one that you traced. This is okay. Once you've inked and stamped it, your image will be the right way around the game. This is something to bury. Mind if you're going to be drawing directly onto your carving media. If your image has a specific orientation, then it's probably best to trace and transfer it just to avoid disappointment. 6. Creating a 'Register': whether creating a single color print or a multicolored print. It's a really good idea to get used to creating a register whenever you print. Now a register is basically a guide, and it make sure that your carved image prints in the same place on every copy that you make. Registers are essential when you're doing multicolored prints as it make sure that your different layers lineup. I found many ways out there of making a register, but the easiest that I found is this. It's a piece of paper the same size that you want to print on in place. Just dump in the center or wherever you want it to be. Now draw around these. Your paper is now your template. When thinking, make sure that your in stump is inside your pencil outline, and then whenever you print it will be in the same place on the print. I'm going to use a race stump up just for ease. Now, when you print line up your paper with the bottom of your template. Now, every print that you do will be in the same place 7. Single Colour Prints: single color prints are the easiest to begin with us. The carving and printing are relatively easy. To get your head around, you can create some seriously stunning single color prints. They are in no way less effective than multicolored prints. Line drawings lend themselves really well to single color prints. You can decide if you keep a solid background and carve your detail into the solid background or have your detail in relief. Andi, carve away your background or you can have a mixture of both. Either way, take it slowly instead of the more you rush, the higher your chance of slipping and making a mistake. Images with a high contrast are also really good for single color prints. You can either create a high contrast image from scratch or use a computer program to help you. If you're using the computer, play around with the image settings. Firstly, I d saturate the image, so it's monochrome. Then I increase the contrast under just the brightness playing with these two settings until the images close to something that I can work with. You can then print it and trace and transfer it onto your carbon block to get going. Creating an image from scratch requires a bit of creativity in fort. Have a think about how you can use positive and negative space to your advantage. And if you need any more inspiration, why don't you go and check out the Pinterest board that I created for you? 8. Multi-Coloured Prints: There are three main ways to make multicolored prints, and with each one it's really important to use a register to make sure you're different. Layers lineup. The first way is to create different layers using different carved blocks, generally printing light through to dark. Start with your image is your starting point. Get a piece of paper bigger than your tracing paper and take your tracing paper along the top edge mark along the bottom edge, right corner of your tracing paper. This is where you will lay your paper when printing using tracing paper that is the same size is your finished piece trace and cool your image. Using pastel pencils. Take your tracing paper pencil side down, get your first carving block and lay it under your tracing paper, ensuring that it is big enough for the whole image. Mark, the top edge and left corner and label is layer warm. You may also like to label your carving block layer one a swell burnish the image to transfer the lead. Do the same again for layer two on a new carbon block. - My first layer is going to be the foliage, so I'm going to call all of that out. - Do the same again for layer two on a new carbon block. Do a test print to make sure that he told lines up. Using your register, start with your background layer and let it dry before printing your upper layer When removed. Both images should be lined up to create your image, and from here you can see if you need to carve anymore away or not. The second method only uses one piece of liner and either uses small rollers to think different parts separately. All you can use a craft knife to carve areas away for separate inking before bringing them together for carving. You still need a register for this to ensure that your image is centered in the paper. Method three is called Reduction Printing, and it's called this because you use one carving block and do carbon print your background layer before carving and printing. Your mid layers are foreground layers with more and more details. Okay, 9. Project Options and Adding Value: block printing can be used for many projects. I'm not going to be prescriptive and say you must do this warm task, the skills and now yours to do with what you will. What time will show you some projects that I have used book printing on in the past. So block printing lends itself really well to card making, and I have made this little Christmas gift cards. It boggles. The great thing about them is that you can princess medical position like and you could also make matching present labels by getting some of these paper luggage labels that you can get online on Prince seeing them up with the same design or something different. I've even used my block printing on rocking paper where I've got plain brown paper wrapping paper and printed my stamps on there. And that is a really nice effect. You can also use your block printing skills to create art. Now, this is a piece that we created together using a reduction printing skills, and you can see the time number date and signed it. And this is something very important if you go to be adding value to your art. If your item is of a limited run. So for this one, I've done a limited run of 10 because I couldn't go back and do anymore because we carved away the first layer. It's very important to put that it is a limited room by adding that it is limited. It will add extra value to potential buyers because they will know they're getting something that isn't must produce. That isn't something that they can go and pick up with supermarket. This is unique. This is special. On it is something that isn't gonna come around again. It's not something very important to very mind. If you are an artist and you want extra value, also, don't forget to sign it. That's kind of value making one I want if you make a name for yourself in the future, if you're art gets to become more valuable, having your signature on something is going to add extra value to your work. But as I've already said these skills and now yours to do with what you will, so have a little think about the type of projects that you want to do and please please out them to the project section off class. I really can't wait to see what you come up with. 10. Final Thoughts: I hope you found this class enjoyable and instructive, and I hope it's inspired you to have a go block printing or to push your boundaries and try something new with your block printing skills. If you have any questions, comments or feedback, you can post them up in the discussion section of the class below, and I'll get back to you on that. So all that's left to say is good bye and happy printing. I can't wait to see what you make.