Easy "Line-O-Print" Contour Portraits using Relief Printmaking | Jennifer Belair | Skillshare

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Easy "Line-O-Print" Contour Portraits using Relief Printmaking

teacher avatar Jennifer Belair, Printmaking + beyond

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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

7 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. Howdy Printers + Class Project

    • 2. Class Materials

    • 3. Creating Your Drawing

    • 4. Image Transfer

    • 5. Carving Your Block

    • 6. Printing Techniques

    • 7. Printing + Play

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About This Class


In this Skillshare Class, Easy Line-O-Print Portraits in Relief Printmaking, you’ll create a contour line portrait in your sketchbook, learn how to transfer it on to a linoleum block, carve and then print!

This class is meant for true beginners who really want to explore lino cut without too much risk. It is meant to help you fully comprehend the process while using something as simple and non-committal as a contour line drawing. I will show you two methods of printing in addition to some more experimental approaches to printing using some ink pads and small blocks to create some truly unique fine art prints.

It’s always helpful if you have some printmaking experience but not necessary.

If you want to learn more about relief printmaking please check out my other classes

Some Beginning Relief Printmaking Classes:
Illustration Based Linoleum Block Carving + Printing
Mark Making with Linoleum Blocks

Class Pinterest Boards
Contour Portraits
Relief Printmaking

Meet Your Teacher

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Jennifer Belair

Printmaking + beyond


Jennifer Belair Sakarian is an artist, educator, and writer living in Michigan. She received her Master's in Fine Art in 2013 at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Her primary focus is printmaking and mixed media approaches to art-making. As an avid nature lover, she tries to instill green practices into her studio practice and subsequently into her Skillshare classes. 

She loves working with students and creating projects that are fun, inspiring and approachable. She is transitioning from traditional academia to online platforms such as Skillshare and hopes to keep learning along the way!

During graduate school, she had been designing and silkscreening gig posters for her favorite bands--some of which you can purchase on her Etsy page-cle... See full profile

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1. Howdy Printers + Class Project: Hi, everyone. This is Jennifer Beller, Sac Korean, and today's class is titled Easy Lionel Black Portrait's in Relief Printmaking. In her class, we will take a simple contour Line portrait drawing, learn how to transfer onto a Lionel black carved and then ultimately print. I'm qualified to teach his class not only because I love printmaking, but also because I received both my bachelors and masters degrees in printmaking I used for making not only for my commercial based artwork but also for my fine art prints. For your class project, you'll be creating your very own Contour Line portrait print using the techniques that were about to discuss. You can decide to print your image as is so it's kind of your standard line drawing very simple contour. Or you can take it to the next level by introducing some of the movable, black tight there we talked about. I am so excited to see what you create for your class project. I hope that you can take the time to upload it and also leave a review for our class. This class will give you the great fundamental knowledge of exactly what relief printmaking is and take you back to the basics so you can have a little bit more confidence to tackle some of those more challenging projects. Now that we know everything about what to expect, let's go ahead and get started. 2. Class Materials: Now let's go over our class materials. If you've already taken a skill share classes me, chances are you probably already have some of these, but let's go ahead and take a quick look. The first thing you'll need is a sketch pad or some drawing paper, some tracing paper. A linoleum block. I have actually two different varieties. This one is a speedball easy carve, which is super easy to carve with. As the name implies, there's also another variety that's called the Battleship Linoleum, and this one is just a little bit harder to carve it. It's actually the one that I will be using for the demo for our class today. Some of the key differences are obviously the difficulty of carving, but because of that, it also holds detail really well. It's a little bit thinner, and it also has a burlap back to it. So just some notable differences. Both of these were great, though additionally, will also need some relief. Printmaking Inc Just make sure that it says black printing or relief printmaking on it. We'll also need some transfer tools, such as a wooden spoon that has a flat back to it or a traditional Japanese printmaking baron. You also need some carving tools. I just have a standard speedball set, and it works really well. It's great for beginning to intermediate students and relief printmaking king. You also need some standard tools, such as a Sharpie marker, a soft pencil, also a ballpoint pen. Also, you'll need a Breyer so you can roll out your ink. With that being said, you also need either a piece of plexiglass or glass. So that way you can roll your ink out and then transfer onto your block that way and as kind of an additional thing that I go over. You also need some stamping pads. If you have these, great If not, you can also use Actual Relief Inc This is just kind of an easier, quicker one to work with. Otherwise, you'll just need some printmaking paper for your final prints on that can be traditional rice paper, Eastern paper or even a very thin drawing paper. The key is that it needs to be very thin and not too too thick and durable. Other than that, you'll just need some materials to clean up with, such as paper towels, rags and some soapy water. Now that we know all our materials, let's go ahead and get started 3. Creating Your Drawing: to get started will want to trace the outline or the shape of the line Oh black that we're going to be using for a project. I like to just use my sketchbook and then trace the outline in some permanent marker just so I can see what my boundaries will be for my actual drawing. It's never a bad idea to trace multiple shapes of your line. Oh, blocks. So that way you can practice a couple different approaches to the line portraiture to get started. I just like to use a standard pencil and try to sketch out exactly how I see myself approaching this project. I like to kind of have more of a sketchy or loose approach at first, and then I'll go ahead and use something like a permanent marker to better define my lines . I have a lot of experience withdrawing. So if doing portraiture is something that's new for you, you might want to go ahead and check out our Pinterest board on simple line Contour drawings to figure out how you want to get started. Remember that we are focusing on the overall quality of the line. I would omit too many extraneous details and keep to the bare minimum, and you can always add things from there. We're really placing an emphasis on line and gathering the information of the portrait, which is something that has been going on in our history for a really long time. They can be very easy to get carried away. So just keep in mind that we are focusing on a more minimal approach to mark making to line quality and the overall portraiture that we're trying to express through this project. Even though we're keeping it simple, there's always room to embed your own personal style. You can do this through Mark, making through line quality through the way that the images rendered and through subtle aesthetic esters and approaches even things like composition at a touch of your own personal style. You could even decide to add some information in the background area. Once you feel happy with your image, you're going to use a piece of tracing paper and place it on top of your drawing. From there, you're going to use pencil and gently trace an outline exactly where you want your lines to be. Notice with this one that I'm being a little bit more decisive. I'm not doing the overall sketchy approach that I had previously done. Therefore, giving me some really great solid lines to work with when I do my transfer. When creating your tracing, you want to make sure you use a nice soft pencil, something like a mechanical pencils, a little too hard for this part of the process. So I would prefer that you stick to something like a six B and eight be even a to B to HB works really well, too. During this part of the process, you could also trace the outline of your black onto your tracing paper. That way, it's a little bit easier for us to transfer the image now that her images traced with some great contour lines, Let's go ahead and learn how to transfer it over to our liable 4. Image Transfer: now onto our image transfer we're gonna place are tracing paper image face down on top of our Lionel block. We're going to go ahead and try to align as best as we can with the rectangular shape that we made to make sure it fits exactly how we want. From there. We're going to use something like a ballpoint pen and trace over or graphite marks. That way, the pressure from the pen transfers the actual image or the lines that we had created from our initial drawing. During this part, you'll want to trace over all the relevant information to make sure that it's easy for you to carve. While doing this. You'll want to apply a good amount of pressure but not digging into the line of block too much. Remember, I'm using the battleship linoleum, so it has a little bit of a denser, harder surface. So marks that I make during this part shouldn't transfer over. But if you're using something like the soft speedball speedy cut, it could carve or cut away into the actual linoleum, and we don't want that to happen during this part of the process. You want to make sure that you have your tracing paper drawing held down by either your hand or a piece of tape. The paper can move really easily, so it's best to be careful during this part, so you don't transfer into the wrong area. You can also lift your image from time to time to make sure that it's transferring in the proper way. Using the right materials is essential to making sure this part of the process works. Remember, I use the soft HB pencil for my initial basing, and now I'm using the ballpoint pen, which provides ample pressure. Once you feel like you have all your image transferred, you can go ahead and lift your image from the line of luck. You'll notice that my graphite transfers a little bit light, so something I like to do is go over it with a Sharpie marker. I like to make sure I have a nice fresh Sharpie, so that way the information gets transferred exactly as I like it. During this part, you could also experiment with different wits of markers, but you could even play around with the thicker chisel, cut Sharpie or even the fine mark Sharpie. This part of the process is just reinforcing the overall line quality that I would like to have in my piece. It doesn't have to be perfect, and I don't have to stay married to the graphite transfer. This is also a part where I could have some creative expression and change things up a little bit. Remember that we are keeping this portrait fairly simple. So trying not to get too excessive with your line quality or areas that you plan on carving this part of the process sort of works in reverse, too, what we're actually going to be doing right now, I'm drawing with a black Sharpie to create black lines on my line. Oh, block. In reality, I'm going to be carving these areas away, which lead to the white of the paper. Anywhere that I carve will not hold the ink and anywhere that is still left. Rays will hold on to the ink, so it's just something to think about. As we work on these Contour Portrait's, they're going to be simple. They will emphasize line so it's more or less a project and how we can explore line and how we can make prints and line. Oh, Prince at home in a relatively easy and fun manner. Once you feel like your drawings in a good place, we can go ahead and start carving. I'll meet up with you in the next video. 5. Carving Your Block: now onto carving. Since you are working and kind of more simplified manner, I've decided to just use a couple of my different gouges. I like shallow. You gouge just because I feel like it's the right width and the right depth of what I'm trying to create. Essentially with this part, we're going to be Carvey away the areas that we had previously drawn with our permanent marker, which makes it really easy to understand and transfer. Just remember anywhere that we carve will be the white of the paper, and anywhere that's raised will be the color of the ink. When you're carving, make sure you rotate in position your block and ways that point the blade away from your body. Some artists like to use what's called a bench hook, which can be really helpful in holding your plate in the right place. It's always good to keep a clean space while you're doing this, so that way you don't get any debris stuck on your hands or stuck into your groups. Carving, in my opinion, is almost the very therapeutic approached are making your thinking, but not too much, and you're just sort of going with the flow something to be careful of us not to apply too much pressure and to move slowly while you're doing your carving. If you move too fast, you might slip and carve the wrong area of your line of black. Or you could carve and hurt yourself. So it's best to be careful and move in slow and controlled ways. So that way you can carve away exactly what you mean. Teoh, As mentioned, I am using the battleship linoleum so it's a little bit harder and denser to carve. I do have some intermediate tools that I like to use that are a little bit sharper than your standard speedball. One thing I can recommend, though, is using a hair blow dryer or heat gun and applying a little bit of heat to the area that you're going to carve. I don't necessarily need this for mine, but it's a great trick that I learned during graduate school. What I would recommend is plugging in the hair dryer or your heat gun close by your workstation and just working selectively in small areas. Blow drying it for maybe 5 to 10 seconds, but not getting too close to the surface, and it should help make it a little bit softer and more malleable and easier for you to car . One thing to notice is the placement of my hands. As I'm carving, I'm always making sure that my fingers are behind the blade. That way I'm not risking any injury while I carve like I mentioned, you don't have to stay married to the lines that you create, although it is a lot easier to do so. I've decided to play around in the eyebrow area of my portrait to kind of add some textural elements that almost looked like hair. Let's see what happens. It's never a bad idea to experiment and explore a little bit. So just something to think about as you're doing. You're carving for the next portion of the video. I'm mostly going to be doing a time lapse of my carving. In a bit. I will be adding some more elements using my Sharpie marker, so feel free to skip ahead if you like. - At this point in the process, you could also decide to add some new elements to your drawing. I've decided to go in with my Sharpie marker and add some more details that make the image more characteristically my style. From here, I can go ahead and carve thes areas away and get my image ready for printing once you're done carving. And it's never a bad idea to look at the image and decide if you need to do some work carving. Sometimes we might miss something. We might decide not to include something. So now that are images trace. Let's go ahead and learn how to print our image. 6. Printing Techniques: in this lesson, I'm going to show two different printing techniques. The first thing you want to do is get your ankle and start charging your Breyer. I like to go in multiple directions to make sure that My Breyer is nice and charged. From there, you can start applying your ink to your actual vinyl block. You'll notice that if it's a fresh black, it does take a little bit of time to get the image fully built up. The's Blacks Air Super absorbent So sometimes the line oh black itself soaks up the ink, thus making it harder to charge her image. So you might have to go over it many more times than you think you should to make sure that there's a nice even layer. Your first impression will usually take the longest to build up. But as you continue to print this and usually if you do in the same color, it should be pretty easy. Once your image looks nice and fully charged, it's time to get printing. We'll go ahead and place are printing paper directly. On top of our image is evenly is it we can with nice borders all the way around from there . I like to use my hands to kind of rub into the image itself than following up with a barren . You can decide to use something like a traditional Japanese Barron. A wooden spoon, even a metal spoon has worked well. In my opinion, it's in good practice to make sure that you're covering the entire image with pressure as your printing, I sometimes like to go over it with a wooden spoon just because it has a little bit more of a pressure. Contact can always peek at the image and see what it's looking like as you go. If, for some reason it doesn't look fully charged, you can gently lift the image and apply a little bit more ink to the area that's lacking from here. You can use your barren or your wooden spoon and apply pressure to make sure you're getting something that's nice and solid. When printing relief prints, it's best to have a piece of paper that's relatively thin. Otherwise it might not transfer when you're doing him pulled prints. This one's looking pretty good. Now I want to show you another technique for printing. This second technique doesn't differ too much from the 1st 1 but I want to make sure I give you some options. So that way you can use what works best for you. For this printing technique, you'll make sure your area is nice and clean, and then you'll put your printing paper directly down on your desk or you're working space . From there, you'll put your linoleum block face down onto your piece of paper, and then we're going Teoh, hold it as best as we can and flip it over because the Printmaking Inc is quite sticky. It showed it here quite well. While you're doing your flip, you'll just want to make sure you have nice contact pressure between the line oh, black, the paper and then your hands acting as the bread of a sandwich. From here, the printing process is generally the same, just applying pressure through different elements things like our Japanese baron and are wooden spoon and making sure that our image transfers the way that it should look. Sometimes these prints can get a little bit spotty, and that could be due to things like the ink drying out the type of ink that you're using, not enough pressure. But it's something to remember that it's also the nature of the printmaking process. So if it doesn't look 100% perfect, that's OK to me, it's all about the aesthetic or the visual look. So once it looks like it's transferred really well, you can go ahead and reveal your print. And again, if it's not looking 100% the way you want it, you can apply more pressure, apply more ink and just make sure that your image turns out in a way that satisfying for you. Once you feel like you've put enough pressure on the back side of your printing papers, you can go ahead and pull your print. This, to me, is the most rewarding part of printmaking, being able to see what the image actually looks like, especially when you've gone to the process of drawing of transferring of carving. Now I want to show you a couple other printing techniques. I'll meet you in the next video 7. Printing + Play: Another fun option for doing this type of printing is that you can selectively cutaway areas. So that way you're only printing up some areas in a particular color at a time. To do this. I'm just using a utility knife, and I'm going over the selected areas by scoring them multiple times. It might not cut away at the very first or the second try, but by repeatedly going over it makes it a little bit easier. You can even use a pair of really sharp scissors to start cutting. If you're using the battleship linoleum like I am, you want to cut away some of the frayed burlap on the back side to make sure that it doesn't interrupt the printing process. If you are using the speedball easy cut. This should be a lot easier for you to dio. Now that I've cut out the figure from the background, Aiken selectively print her in one color. I've decided that I'm going to print her in this lovely ultra Marine blue. If you decide to switch colors while printing, you're black. You want to make sure that you clean. It's by using a little bit of soap and water and some paper towels or rags be much the same process. Just charging my image up, making sure that the ink is nice and solid. There's no streaks in it. So going at it from different directions, especially with the battleship linoleum, as it does, tend to curve. You'll notice in this set up that I do have a piece of plastic between my registration paper on the back and my block itself. That way, if I get ink off of the actual block, I can go ahead and just use a piece of paper tall to wipe some of it away. Sometimes when when we print, it can get a little bit messy. So it's just an extra precaution to take. Now I can go ahead and print this in the same manner as I showed before notice that I'm using the piece of paper behind the plastic to act as a registration to show me exactly where my printing piece of paper should go. From here, I printed with my barren my spoon. Whatever works best for me. Once you feel like you've applied enough pressure, it's time to go ahead and pull your print to see what you have. This one looks pretty good and could be considered finished and complete. But I wanted to show you guys some additional options for playing around and adding some new elements to your image. The great thing about linoleum black printing is that one to carve a black, you pretty much can use it indefinitely as long as they're properly taken care of. By using multiple blacks, you can have a lot of freedom in your image. You can create something that is truly unique and kind of pushes the boundaries of what printmaking can be. It can also open the opportunity to include multiple colors into a single piece simply by inking them with different colors, which you'll see some examples of at the very end of this video. For now, I'm going to do a time lapse so you can see my process and study it along the way. It's meant to be playful and fun and something that looks truly unique to your style or your vision. Next, I wanted to show you another technique. You can use small lineup blacks with ink pads to create and limited approaches to your project. Most of these air from previous print editions where I had some scrap pieces left. As you can see, the approaches super intuitive and create so much variety in the work. While your image is fine as it is, it could be fun to play around and see what you can come up with. Remember for your class project that you will be creating a contour line drawing using the process that we went over. I'm so looking forward to seeing what your take is on this project. And please feel free to find me on instagram at Bel Air fresh prints or to document your progress by using the hashtag happy printing with Jen like you see on the screen. Thank you so much and happy printing.