Reduction Print: Step by Step Guide to Creating a Multi-Colored Print | Jeslyn Sebold | Skillshare

Reduction Print: Step by Step Guide to Creating a Multi-Colored Print

Jeslyn Sebold

Reduction Print: Step by Step Guide to Creating a Multi-Colored Print

Jeslyn Sebold

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
9 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Planning + Inspiration

    • 3. Transfer Image

    • 4. Carve First Layer

    • 5. Gathering Materials

    • 6. Prep Print Station

    • 7. Print First Layer

    • 8. Add More Layers

    • 9. Final Thoughts

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Level up your printmaking game by creating a multi-colored print using only 1 block! This step by step walkthrough will give you the confidence you need to master more nuanced printmaking techniques such as registration while creating something beautiful you can share.

This class will focus on mastering this more advanced technique by breaking it down into simple steps:

--How to plan for a successful multi-color print

--How to transfer or draw directly onto your linoleum block 

--Carving the layers of your design

--Walkthrough of prepping your paper and print station

--Printing each layer of color in a specific order to achieve your vision

By the end, you will feel confident to create your own decorative print.

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

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Your creative journey starts here.

  • Unlimited access to every class
  • Supportive online creative community
  • Learn offline with Skillshare’s app

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.



1. Intro: Hi, guys. My name is Death Lynn. I'm a freelance illustrator living in Florida. I'm passionate about printmaking and use techniques in all of my work. One of my favorite ways of incorporating printmaking is using reduction prints. This is an old method of block printing that produces a limited amount of original prints. This class is going to focus on the basics of creating a reduction little print. You'll be following me through my process, beginning with idea generation sketches and then pulling each layer of color as I walk you through each step. Keep in mind that you'll be pulling a print of your own at the end of this class that you can use. Decorate your home or to share with others. I hope you'll share with us on the project page as well. Let's get started 2. Planning + Inspiration: The print I'm creating for this class is inspired by the local beaches. I enjoy finding inspiration in my local area, whether that be a place, an event or the nature here. When I'm out, I always have my phone and snap a lot of pictures for a leader use. This has been a great habit that has gotten me away from using images found on Pinterest or Google. When beginning a new piece, I start with thumbnail sketches. This is just a fancy way of saying I make a lot of small rough sketches to figure out what I want my competition toe look like when starting. I like to look at reference photos in peace, bits of them together to create a multitude of ideas. I'll often try both horizontal and vertical compositions to see what I think looks best when sketching. I'm also thinking of limiting my colors so I have made notes of what colors. I think I'll use out to the side of each of these sketches. After creating about 68 designs, I step back and decide which one's my favorite here. I think I like the flying Siegel's rising above the crashing waves the best. This is the one that I'm gonna work up in color to get an idea of what the final print might look like. My sketchbook paper is too thin for paints on cutting a scrap to a size I'd like to work with and then gluing it in. This is a good opportunity to use scratch paper that might be sitting around your studio. When planning a reduction print, I'll often work up a final sketch in watercolor. This media gives me the most realistic idea of what the colors of my print will look like layered on top of each other. Take your time here and create as many sketches as you feel you need before moving forward . This is the most important stage of planning your print and the best way to set yourself up for success. Challenge yourself to limit your colors to somewhere between three and five. Remember, each cut will be a separate layer on your print that you'll have to carve register, which will talk more about leader and then print. It's time consuming, and you want to make sure it's worth it before diving into the labor of love that is printmaking. Once my final color sketches complete, I'm ready to transfer the image to the block. Now, I want you to take a minute to develop your own sketches before moving on to the next video . What inspires you? Is it a place? A memory structure? Think about what brings you joy right now and get some sketches on your page. Remember, this is the most important stuff in the planning process. Set yourself up for success and I'll be seeing you for the next step when you're ready. 3. Transfer Image: there are multiple ways to transfer an image to a block before carving it. In this video, I will show you three different ways. You can accomplish this, but before we dive in, let's first take some time to copy our final sketch onto a piece of tracing paper. When tracing, I like to take my paper in place so it doesn't slide around while I'm trying to capture all the line work I need. Then I use a soft, leaded pencil to go over my lines. I recommend at least a to B pencil because it will give you a clearer line when you transfer your image to the block. Using a tracing paper sketch to transfer an image is a great way to get exactly what you're expecting. When you're creating a print, it takes a little extra time on the front end. But I find I like the guaranteed results of using the tracing paper. - Once I have successfully traced all of my shapes. I'm ready to transfer my image. The first transfer mess did we will go over is the spoon method. To transfer an image this way, tape your traced image face down to your block. Then, using firm pressure and circular motions, rub a spoon over the tracing paper. Thus will transfer yourself pencil lines to the linoleum block. This method is great because it's quick and it saves you from having to draw your image again. But I sometimes find that my lines could be light and hard to see. The most common way I transfer my final image till the linoleum block is using the second method the pencil method. For this method, you will again need to have your tracing paper image taped face down on the block. Then take your regular HB pencil and carefully go over all the lines you've already drawn. This will transfer the graphite from the tracing paper to the linoleum block. I really like this method because it's more precise, and it provides a darker line on the black. However, it means you have to draw your image again, and it can take more time than the spoon method. The third method isn't really a transfer at all. If you prefer, you can draw directly onto your block with the pencil. Or, if you're really brave, you can jump right in with a Sharpie. Sometimes when transferring my image really isn't working out all scrap, transferring altogether and just draw my sketch directly onto the block, using my initial sketch as a reference. This is a nice way of adding any last minute adjustments, but keep in mind that the printed image will be the mirror image of what you draw on the block way. - Before starting to carve, I go over all my pencil lines with Sharpie. I use Sharpie specifically because it doesn't dissolve when cleaning my block between print colors toe add even more clarity to this print. I have filled in all the areas I want to carve away first with a red Sharpie. This keeps me from getting confused and carving areas. It shouldn't be carved yet. When you're finished, it's time to set up your print station and get started. I'll see you there 4. Carve First Layer: So these are the carving tools that I will be using these air my Japanese carving tools if you're interested in a set, I got him from McClain's printmaking supplies online. Now, to start with, I'm going to be carving away all of the areas that are red first, and then I'll pull my first print when you Carvey's and your tools. You don't have to carve really deep. You just want to carve low enough to where you create a valley so that the ink when you roll it over will not catch these lower areas. If you have trouble carving your linoleum because it's too hard, take a hair dryer and go over it a couple times. It will soften it up for you. If you look here, you can see kind of the peaks of valley, so I'm creating using my U shaped gouges. As long as thes ridges are lower than the initial gold linoleum, I'll be okay as I print. So for the body of this bird, I want it to be white. Anything I've marked red is gonna be white. If you want really clean blinds, I would recommend outlining all of your shapes with the knife tool, it really is best practice also. When you're bringing any kind of knife or carving tool towards your body, use this finger or any other finger you're comfortable with as a guide. That way, if your knife accidentally slips, your finger will stop it before you can do any damage to the rest of your body. I only carved this part of the body where I'm gonna be pushing the knife towards the edge that I created. So it's nice and crisp anywhere that I'm just going to start my blade to create, like the scalloped edge. I'm not gonna worry about lining with the knife first, because my U shaped gouge will automatically give me a nice, rounded starting point, which is what I want for feathers. And really almost everything in this design starts with that nice, rounded shape which keeps me from having outline a lot of it. Okay, so for this I'm gonna mostly be using this medium u shaped gouge. And depending on how much pressure you put on this tool, you can get a variety of width, so you can start on the smaller side and then it will get whiter for you if you kind of press further into love linoleum. Another tool that I like to use to get into these tight corners is my V shaped couch. Now I know these come in different sizes. I only have this one, and I find that it works really well for everything. So this little guy will get right in here and get that tight corner taking care of for me. Another option if you do not have a V shaped gout, which you should, even if you're using the speedball starters that it comes with the V shaped couch. But if you just don't like it or if it's not working properly, another thing that you can do you can also take your knife tool in carved that corner. And then when you come through with your U shaped gouge, it will take that part out of the so two ways to do the same thing. Try and both and see what's comfortable for you. So you'll see here. This had a rounded edge on both sides, and I stopped before I got to the other rounded edge. What I'll do is I'll just turn my whole plate and then I'll start on the other side. So I get a nice rounded shape on both ends here. When you're carving, it's really advantageous to think about the kind of marks your tool can make. If this is, you know, your second or third print, you're still kind of figuring it out, do a couple of practices and highly recommend really getting to know your tools. They will save you a lot of time and energy. I will say with the splashes here, I'm not sticking super closely to the drawing close as I can, but we just wanted to have, like, a nice foamy look. It's OK if it's not perfect now. Some of these edges here are too small, even for my trusty You shake out here so I'll come in with one of these to this little baby . This one is really delicate, and I only tried to use it for these really small areas you can use the V shaped gouge to I'm just I'm partial to the U shaped gouges. They're a little bit easier for me to sharpen and work with these or what I started with. This is my personal preference, but it might not be yours. So as I'm carving right here, you can see this really defined shadow of a ridge. That's probably gonna be too high when I print. I'm gonna be looking for a little areas like this. Like anything that's got that defined of a shadow in person, you'll be able to see that it's a taller ridge that's going to catch some EQ. So you want to just take your tool and go over one more time to get rid of that really defined peak there so you can see the shadow went away there. You can see I left this old guy right here for last. That's because he is surrounded by all of this white spray. So I'm gonna have to work really carefully. Toe leave faint outline all way around him. Otherwise, we're gonna lose his body in order to not lose the body. I'm going to have to take my knife tool an outline very carefully. After outlining all of the parts of the bird with the knife, I can go back in and carefully scoop away all the parts that I want to keep white. This takes a little bit of time, and there is a risk that I can carve through a part of my bird. But the fine detail will look really nice on the final print, so it's worth taking the extra time and making the extra effort to do this now. 5. Gathering Materials: before you can plan and pull a successful print, you'll need to gather the proper supplies. The first thing you'll need to pull your print is your paper. For this print, I've chosen a 200 GSM rag paper that's made of 100% cotton. This paper is very thick and able to withstand pulling a multi color, high quality print. However, it must be soaked before I can pull a successful print by hand. In order to soak this paper, I feel an inexpensive Tupperware halfway with water and carefully slide the paper into soak . This paper needs to be soaked for at least 30 minutes before pulling a print. This gives the paper time to soften and toe lift any residue or debris that might have been carried over from the supplier. The next material I will need in order to pull this print is ink. For this print, I have chosen to use oil based ink. I prefer oil based toe water based ink when pulling reduction prints because the layers air smoother and more consistent. I purchased my ink from Graphic Chemical and Inc Company. This ink last for a long time and creates translucent layers for a more complex print. This brand is not found in common art supply stores and must be ordered online. I recommend process Blue process yellow process red, white and black. If you're building a base set of printmaking supplies, you will also need rags to clean up a Yugo and keep the block looking crisp and neat. I use old T shirts passed down from friends and family that I cut into strips but any old fabric. In order to roll ink onto a smooth surface, such as a glass palette, you'll need a Breyer. This burger is covered in a soft rubber, which is ideal for picking up sticky relief, printing ink and rolling and even layer across a black. If you are serious about printing this to be one of the first major investments, I would advise making if cared for properly. A Brera can last an entire career For a reduction print, you'll need to devise a method that allows you to lay your paper in the same place over and over again, so that the layers of ink stack on top of each other neatly is called registration. For this print, I'll be using your registration board. This board is a thin, flat piece of wood with another thinner L shaped block of wood glued or nailed to two sides . Thes elevated sides. Catch the block and hold it in the same place so you can lay your paper over in the exact same spot with very little fussing. Lastly, in order to pull your print, you'll either need a spoon like the fancy when I've got here or a baron for my print, I'm gonna opt for the spoon. It gives me a little more control over the smaller surface of this particular point. You're also going to need a smooth, flat surface in order to roll out your ink, such as a piece of glass or plexiglass and some scrap paper to pull test prints and for laying over your damp rag paper to prevent Terry 6. Prep Print Station: Before I start my print, I need to first dry my paper. This paper has been soaking for a little over an hour to loosen the fibers and remove any excess debris. However, I can't print on it when it soaked. The risk of tearing it is too great, so I need to block my paper before I can get started. In order to dry my paper, I first laid a towel over my workspace. I also have an additional towel to press gently over the paper to absorb even more water. When you've got your work area set up, grab a corner of one sheet of paper and hanging over the water to allow it to run off the paper before laying it on the towel. Once the water dries from a stream into drips, lay it down flat on the towel. Lee each to sheet of paper side by side until you fill the space. Once full, lay your second tell on top and apply medium pressure to squeeze out the most water you can . I prefer to block all of my paper before beginning to pull my print. That saves me time and keeps my paper free of ink and dirt spots to keep my paper from drying out too much, I stack it all together in a pile and wrap um, in a piece of newsprint. This slows the drying process so that I can still achieve a crisp print without my paper drying out too much. Once my paper has been blotted and wrapped in newsprint, I need to prep my registration black. I've chosen to cut my paper one inch larger on each side than my linoleum block because I want to have a clean border around my image. However, if I lay my linoleum block along the raised edge of my registration board and placed the paper on top of it, you could see that the image will print high in one corner and leave a lot of dead space along the opposite corner. In order to troubleshoot this problem, I kept to one inch scraps from the block that I cut to size, and I'll push those into the raised corner of my registration board decree a border or a buffer. This will keep my print centered on the paper now that my paper on my block are ready to go , the last thing I need to do is makes my first color When pulling a reduction print. It's easiest to start with the lightest color first and slowly work your way towards the darkest color. My first color will be yellow because of the sun in the background. If you have chosen to use oil based ink like I am, it's really important to have a stock of clean, dry rags to keep your block and print station clean. Also, you will need vegetable oil to clean up after pulling all of your prints. You can use mineral spirits or turpentine to clean up the ink in the block, but I don't recommend it because of the fumes. I tend to purchase £1 cans of each ink color because they hold up well. This particular can of ink has lasted me over three years, and I'm still using it. It will develop a thin film of drying over a pool of what ink over time, but I have found that it isn't a problem because it keeps the ink underneath fresh. Be careful when mixing your ink because there's some crumble ease that can get into it. Take the time to pick them out. Otherwise, you won't get an even print. Begin simply wiped them away with your palette knife and then scoop them up into a rag leader. My palate knife is not very flexible, so I need to take a second palette knife to wipe off the excess ink to keep from wasting the extra. It's a lot like cooking with a spatula in the kitchen, except don't eat it. Be sure to wipe off your palette knife before switching colors. Are you? My accidently contaminate a color. I'll be lightning my yellow ink with white to get a nice light color. When I'm mixing my ink, I keep my color separate and slowly mixed one into the other. This gives me more control so I can get the color. I'm searching for more quickly without wasting ink. When using oil based ink, especially if you're not mixing a different color. Take the time to play with the ink on the palate. This warms the ink, making it softer and gives a more even roll onto the block. You can feel the change because the ink starts stiff and the more you work with it, the easier it becomes to move around. That's what you want. I have some extra white that I won't be using for this color so I can put it back and reuse it later. That's another reason I really love buying the cans of ink over tubes of ink. Once you squeezing out of a tube, you can't put it back. But you can always put it back into a can to use again. Now I can clean off the stuff palette knife and put it away. I won't be needing it again for this color. Now it's time to get started pulling my prints. 7. Print First Layer: Now that my ankles mixed, I'm going to roll it out with a Breyer to get a smooth, even block of color I can use to get my block. When spreading your ain't try to keep the well. This is the wide block of ink you're smoothing with your palette knife about as long as you're Breyer. Then you'll be ready to roll your ink when rolling the ink. Make sure to lift the Breyer each time you roll it up or down. This helps cover the entire roller evenly with ink. Take your time, spreading the ink. It will start out being very sticky and will sound like Velcro every single time you touch it. Keep on rolling. Make your patch of ing even wider. If you keep hearing that loud Velcro sound when the ink is ready, the Velcro sound will be much softer. Be patient if you get too excited in the ink is too thick. When you roll it onto your block, you will lose the finer details of your carving. You can see here that my Breyer is totally covered with a thin layer of ink. It's ready to be rolled onto the block. I like to income my block on my palette to help minimize the mess. So I have turned my palate around to give myself the extra room to accomplish this. When I roll a Brera up and down the length of the block one time, the ink still looks translucent. This is a good sign that the income, my Breyer, is not too thick. Now all roll more ink onto my Breyer and repeat the process. Doing this allows the heat to slowly build up my on my block to give me a nice even print that won't damage my details. Rolinco, over your block at least three times, especially if this is the first print you're pulling. Be sure to roll over your block in different directions as well to make sure you have everything covered. Once the block is inked late, carefully down on your registration board. Keep track of the direction you laid down this first time because it will need to be the same every single time after this. Now we'll take my first piece of damp paper and carefully lining up along the bottom and left edges of the linoleum scrap border. Your alignment might look different than mine, and that's okay. Just make sure it's exactly the same for every print or this won't work. Make sure to keep the paper lifted in your other hand while you're trying to fiddle with the registration. So it's not touching the inked up block until you get it right where you want it. When you're ready, released the paper and gently rub your hands over the entire piece. This helps that here the paper to the block and reduces the chance of it sliding. As you're pulling your print, I recommend using a spoon for smaller prints like this and lay a piece of dry scrap paper over the damp sheet of paper to prevent Terry go over your whole image, pressing down firmly while movie in circular motions, just like you did. If you use this boon method to transfer your image to the Leno block when you think you've covered your entire image, carefully peel it off the block. You can see remnants of red Sharpie on this print, but that's OK because the darker colors will cover it up later. Make sure you press a hand down gently over the paper as you peel it back to keep it from moving across the bloc is allow you to peel up and check each side of your print to make sure you've transferred all the ink from the block to your paper. On mine, you can see I missed a couple of small spots so I can take a moment to fix them. With this boot, I'm finished. I'll remove the print and hanging up to dry because I'm using oil based ink. It can take anywhere from three days to a full week to dry. You want to make sure each in Claire is dried before adding another one on top of it. Or you heard it to get some strange prints. After pulling one or two test prints, you'll get into the rhythm and pull all of your prints fairly quickly. I'm creating a run of 10 prints for this image, so I have 12 sheets of paper. This leaves me with two test prints so I can make sure my registration and colors are correct each time I add a new layer to this print. Once you're finished pulling your prints, it's time to clean up quickly before your ink dries. Either on your palate or on your block. If you're using oil based ink, I recommend cleaning up with vegetable oil. Any brain will do as long as it's in liquid form. Before dousing your palate in Boyle, use a palette knife to scrape up all the extra ink you can. This will save you a lot of time in frustration. Once all of the excess ink has been removed, place your Breyer on your palate and pour about two tablespoons worth of oil over your Breyer and your palate. Use your Breyer to roll it over your palate. Then press your block face down into your oil to code it and begin loosening up the EQ. I always clean my Breyer first because it's the most time consuming and is at the greatest risk of drying out first. Then I follow up cleaning the palate and saving the block for last. I use the same dirty rag for both the palate and Molyneaux. Liam Block Cleaning the palate first allows me to build up the oil in my rag, which will make removing the ink from my block even easier. Make sure to go over your block one more time with a clean, dry rag to remove any excess vegetable oil. You want a clean, dry surface for carving your next color. After your print station is nice and tidy, it's time to carve your block and add the second color. 8. Add More Layers: at this time, I have already pulled the second color on my print. You can see on my block that I carved away the half circle at the top of the image that represented the sun. I did this before pulling the second color to ensure that area would stay yellow when I added the first pass of light blue to the image. When you finished adding the first color to your print, you're ready to start on the next color for each color you carve away. You want to keep in mind that you're carving away the things you want to keep the previous color. In this case, I'm starting to carve away sections of foam and waves to keep them like blue when I add a layer of darker blue on top. If it feels confusing, take a pencil or a colored sharpie and color over all the areas you want to keep the color you just printed, Then start carving. When printing a reduction print. It's most common to begin with the lightest color and slowly work your way towards the darkest color. It's why I started this print with yellow instead of dark gray as I move forward, I will continue to carve away more and more surface area of the block because the darker areas exist in smaller spaces. Each time I carve away the sections, I want to keep the previous color. I will add a slightly darker color to my print. I recommend pulling at least one test print each time you add a new layer to ensure that everything is registered properly and that your colors are all working together. Use your rag to keep your edges squeaky clean and make sure to lay your paper down in exactly the same spot every time. This will keep things lined up nicely and give you a professional looking print. This print had five layers of color, but to save on time, you're only seeing the third color, and the fifth color is being applied. You can see the fifth player had very small pieces to link up with quite a bit of space. In between, I used a smaller Breyer to help keep ink off of the dead space on the plate and really took my time cleaning up my block with a rag before laying the paper on top. I often find the last layer to be the most challenging because it's often the smallest details that are the darkest, and it takes a lot of extra time to make sure the block ist free of ink in places where it's unwanted. Don't get discouraged if this is happening to you, it's completely normal. Just stay with it and remember, it will all be worth it after this final layer is complete. 9. Final Thoughts: Now that you have a firm grasp of the basics of reduction printing, you can apply them anywhere. The sky's the limit. You can print on anything from fabric to notebooks to any smooth, hard surface you find you might make mistakes. But that's OK. Embrace them. Use them as experiments to find your own style or solution to the problems that come up. Don't forget I'd love to see your prints on the project page. If you have any questions about anything, reach out. I'm here to answer them for you any time. Good luck and happy printing.