Low-Tech Printing: Get Started in Print Design! | Leitha Matz | Skillshare

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Low-Tech Printing: Get Started in Print Design!

teacher avatar Leitha Matz, Maker

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

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

    • 1.

      Class Intro


    • 2.

      Welcome! + Class Overview


    • 3.

      Printing with Found Objects


    • 4.

      Printing with Carved Objects


    • 5.

      Printing with Quick Stencils


    • 6.

      Mixing Methods


    • 7.

      Final Thoughts


    • 8.

      Bonus: The Bunny Napkin Fold


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About This Class

While there are a lot of complex ways to make prints, you can also create lovely, simple designs with very little time and a just few things you probably have around your house.

In this class, we'll explore the wonderful world of Low-Tech Printing.

I'll show you three methods to experiment with. Using just little paint and creativity, today can be the day you print something stellar!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Leitha Matz



I work as the head of product at a startup, but when I'm not at the office, I'm always making things of my own. I especially love illustrating, writing and design.

Here at Skillshare, I usually focus on creating classes in printing -- everything from stencils to woodblock.

I find printmaking inspiring because anyone can quickly start making successful prints with very few tools. It really opens the doors to producing a vision of your own on all kinds of materials: t-shirts, walls, stationery, stickers and so much more.

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1. Class Intro: One of the things I like best about printing is how flexible it is. If you're a print master, you can do these beautiful, multicolored, and multi-layered pieces. But at the other end of the spectrum, you can also just start with whatever you have around the house. That's perfect for any day. In this course, I'm going show you three easy ways to take on Low-Tech Printing. No special equipment necessary, no computer needed. All you really need to have is some ink, a surface and an idea. Whether you're five or you're 95, you can get started in Low-Tech Printing. It's fast, it's fun, I think you're gonna have a great time. 2. Welcome! + Class Overview: Thank you so much for enrolling in this class. I think you're going to find that printing is a really easy and approachable art. If you've done some printing before, then you're going to find this class maybe energizing. There's a lot of experimentation involved. If you've not done any printing before, I think you're going to find that this class is an easy way to ramp up and you can build more skills later. Where do you start? Well, you've probably already done some basic printing if you've ever put down a thumbprint or footprint. Basic low-tech printing is about a surface meeting in ink in an intentional way that leaves an impression. We can leave impressions by introducing ink to a design and then transferring that design to paper, or fabric, or wall, or wood, or any number of surfaces. Screen printing and stencil printing are slightly different. In that case, we make use of a barrier to cover up areas where you don't want any ink. In this course, we'll look at two different ways to approach direct impression printing, and a simple stencil or serial graph method. For your project, you can focus on one of these techniques or a combination. Unlike the maths. In case it wasn't already obvious, I'm a printing enthusiast. I find that teaching printing is a way to allow people to do more with the objects in their lives. You can approach something and say I can do something with that, I can make that myself. That is really satisfying. I have a series of videos here on Skillshare that are about printing. It doesn't cost a lot. It's very easy to approach. If you want to, you can get really good at printing and do amazing things. Of course, please feel free to use me as a resource. I answer all the questions you guys post, I love to interact with you. If you have any questions at all, if you're unclear on anything, please post a question in the community discussion area and I'll get right to it. Let's get started with found object printing. 3. Printing with Found Objects: The first of the printing methods I'm going to show you is the most simple. It's just find an object and print with it. It doesn't get much easier than that. So travel around your apartment or home and keep an eye out for the things that have interesting patterns or textures. Try and think about the places where the thing is going to hit the surface of your paper or a fabric, or whatever you're going to print on. The things I'm using here include hair accessories, toys, kitchen tools, fruit, rubber bands, all kinds of stuff. It's all fair game as long as you don't mind washing some paint off of it. I'll put a list of a few ideas of things you might want to try in the class materials. So look for a PDF there. Once you have a few items, just pour out some paint onto a plate, and take a piece of scratch paper to see what it looks like when you actually printing. When you're printing with these objects, try to consider the different ways that they can look. If you turn them maybe vertically or horizontally, or maybe repeat them in a pattern, how can you make it look really interesting? I'm using a water-based paint here and I recommend you do the same. It's just so much easier to clean. Using various tools and objects, I get a variety of cool textures. I've decided I'm going to focus here on the block that's wrapped in rubber bands which I think makes it really fun zigzag. I think it's going to look great on a set of napkins that I have. First, I iron the napkins for a level surface. Then I pour out a good amount of fabric paint and I'm using a piece of glass as my paint repository because it gives me a lot of room to work with and my block is actually pretty big. Now after I do the printing, I'll just need to iron these to heat set the paint, and in not much time at all, I've got a set of custom printed napkins. Now, let's look at another way to print and we're going to be using vegetables and erasers. 4. Printing with Carved Objects: If you want an effect that's a little more planned, carving a design into an eraser or a root vegetable can be a quick and easy way to accomplish that. For this printing method, you'll need a sharp paring knife or maybe some carving tools if you happen to have them. Now, potatoes are a classic printing vegetable, but you can also use beets or apples or kohlrabi or turnips. It's up to you. This yellow beet was getting a little too soft be appetizing. So I'm carving it now. Just like any other printing method that involves carving, you'll want to do some tests to make sure you're getting the effect you want before you apply that design to a final surface. For this carved potato, I've taken some inspiration from the Scandinavian designer Lotta Jansdotter. In her book, Lotta Prints, there's a great collection of organic looking design that's drawn from plants and trees. Repeating the print down this napkin, I've used some different angles to vary the look. I've also blended a couple of different colors of metallic fabric paint to create the tones that blend together to help make texture in the print. Once I'm done with this, I'll need to dry it and then, I'll iron it to set the ink into the fabric, and here's the final result which I love. If you're interested in knowing how to fold this napkin into a bunny, let me know in the community discussion area. In the next video, we'll look at doing some stencil printing. 5. Printing with Quick Stencils: A third way to do low-tech printing is by using a stencil. Now, I covered stencil methods more thoroughly in my first screen printing with stencils course, but the truth is, you don't need a screen to start printing with stencils. I want to turn this cute hippo from my candy wrapper into a design that goes on my new notebook. I'm going to draw out my hippo on a piece of paper. But if you have a lot of fiddly little details to deal with, you might have better luck in cutting your stencil from contact paper and if your design is simple enough, then cutting it out of a plain sheet of paper or a thin piece of plastic can also work. When your stencil is ready, lay it down on the print surface and either push the ink through a screen, the way I'm doing here or tape down the stencil really well and apply the ink directly with a dense brush. You'll see the image is reversed when you lift your stencil so keep that in mind when you create your design. I'll just wait for my hippo to dry and now I have a much cuter notebook. If you haven't already done so, go ahead and open up a project in the project gallery. I can't wait to see what you guys are working on. 6. Mixing Methods: Now we've had a look at three different ways to approach low-tech printing. Where do you go from here? Well, I'd recommend you try mixing methods. I'm interested in making some Valentines with this potato heart. The eraser is also looking really good and I like the geometric shapes that I've made with the wine corks here and the marker cap here. I'm going to do a couple of test cards using a black ink on the stems to contrast the pink blossoms. You'll see I'm able to repeat the stem pattern for the taller plants. I'm just lining those up and it makes it easier if when you do your carving, you leave a little bit of the tail end at the edge of the eraser. After my test prints are dry, I'll do the next color with the cap of the marker and the wine cork. I really like how this design turned out. I'm going to print now on a nicer card stock that's made of bamboo. You can also see how much better the ink is taken up by the bamboo paper than the printer paper and there's a reason that we print on nicer papers. I just repeat the pattern that I did on the test prints and I wait for that to dry. Then I add the contrasting pink. My final print shows a little Valentine garden and this is an example of something that you can do when you find patterns and shapes that you really like as you're doing your test prints. 7. Final Thoughts: What I hope you're going to take from this class is exactly how simple this printing can be. We've seen three different methods of doing low-tech printing, each with different results, but all very approachable. I think you're going to find this style of printing really fun and liberating. I think it's a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. Thank you so much for taking this class. If you enjoyed it, I hope you'll follow me and check out some of the other classes that I have in things like screen printing, or linocut, or rubber printing. Now there's a lot of fun that you can have in printing. If you've had fun in this class, hopefully you'll have fun in the other ones. I'd love to see the stuff you guys come up with. Please post your project in the project gallery once you have some stuff that you've been working with. If you have any questions at all, post one in the community discussions area. I'll wrap this up. But I hope you guys had a really wonderful time in the class. I can't wait to see what you produce. Happy printing. 8. Bonus: The Bunny Napkin Fold: I'm going to do something a little different here, a bit of a departure from printing. This is a bunny fold napkin. You can see the cute little bunny rear and bunny ears here. I'm going to show you how to do this particular napkin fold as a bonus. You don't have to watch the video, it doesn't have anything to do with printing. But if it's a skill that you want to pick up, let's do that now. What we're doing here is essentially napkin origami. You're going to need, first of all, a flat surface. You can see that this napkin that I'm about to use here has some pretty prominent creases in it. The first thing I'm going to do is to go over this napkin with an iron. I recommend that if you're going to be showing this off to guests, for example, you want to start out with a nice crisp surface so that it's easy to work with. Lay your napkin out, you'll need a square napkin so make sure it's perfectly square. I've done this before with other napkins and wondered why it didn't work. Well, it doesn't work because sometimes they're not the right shape, they're not square. The first thing you're going to want to do is fold the napkin into thirds, make it perfect thirds, so that the lines are lining up. You want to make sure the bottom hem is perfectly along the edge of the fold. So then, imagine a crease that's right in the middle of your napkin. You're going to want to bring the sides in to the crease here. I'll show you how to do that. You just fold these top corners down along your imaginary line. Next, you're going to bring up the bottom corners. So fold them each up at a right angle. The next thing we're going to do is bring these left and right edges together on the center line. Now this is a little easier seen than imagined. Now flip the whole thing upside down and turn it over. See, it's already beginning to look a little bit bunny-like. You've got those kind of ears going in there on top. You turn up the bottom point just like this. At this point, you can pick your bunny up. If you look at it one way, you have that bunny butt coming along. Then the front of it, you have these two pockets. These pockets are where you're going to want to tuck one into the other, so I'm just going to do the tuck right here. Now you can see that I have one side which we'll straighten out there, fold it there. From the front, you can move out the ears from behind. We have our little bunny tail. He's going to be a little lopsided. When I put him down on the table, I'm going to want to fluff him out a bit so that I can find a bottom, and he stands upright. That's all, there is to it. We have one bunny. I can make lots of bunnies. If you want to have a party for Easter or something, you can have a whole fleet of little bunny napkins.