2.1 Linocuts

Linocuts introduces the tools, techniques and range of mark making possible using linocuts.

Keywords from the project brief:

  • Marking out a grid on your lino of four squares by six squares
  • Make cuts and patterns using one blade only in each square
  • Make a note in your learning log of which square has marks made by which tool
  • Make notes about how you might use the different textures and cut lines to represent your ideas


For this exercise I created three test prints:

  1. Experimenting with different blades, mark making and textures
  2. Marking making, shapes and textures for my first single cut linocut
  3. Marking making, shapes and textures for my second single cut linocut

For me this exercise was about learning how to use the tools and familiarisation with medium and print process.


I bought a set of lino cutting tools for an exercise in Illustration 1 and was subsequently advised to invest in sharper tools. I got a second higher quality set from Intaglio.


There is a big difference between using the different sets and after creating my first single colour lino cut I’m not not using the red set at all.

Test cut 1 – mark making and textures

The first test cut used all blades from all the tools in different combinations. I didn’t have a fixed idea of the marks, I just let the different blades suggest what I should do.

The cut was quick; probably finished in a couple of hours. I took a print at both home and then again in the print studio. Note that there is a more detailed reflection of the print process in Exercise 2 – Single colour linocut.

Test Cut 01
Test Cut 01 – Image size 20cm x 30cm

I’ve referred back to this print on numerous occasions for texture ideas.

Test cut 2 – Lucky find

I needed to check whether the different components in my Lucky find design would work. In this test cut, I tried out each key element of the design including variants to test which was most successful. These were then taken forward into the final print.

The cut took a long time and in hindsight I was using the tools in a very controlled and unexpressive manner.

The print was made at home without a press so the ink is a bit patchy in places.

Test Cut 02
Test Cut 02 – Image size 20cm x 30cm

Test cut 3 – St Nicholas’ Church

Like Test Cut 2, this print was made to test out different elements of two ideas I had for a print:

  1. Cat on a wall (a narrative idea I may develop later)
  2. A view of St Nicholas’ Church (a print I went on to create in Exercise 2 – Single colour linocuts


I think the final print is really interesting. I like the way the different panels work, with single, double and quadruple panel combinations. I find the composition and inter-relationships between the different panels engaging; this composition is something I’d like to explore further, and is analogous to the way a reader might read a comic strip.

Test Cut 03
Test Cut 03 – Image size 20cm x 30cm


What went well

  • I found this a valuable exercise because opened my eyes to the possibilities of mark making and being inventive around creating textures. It will provide reference for future prints.
  • It gave me insight into how best to use the medium; I discovered that it is possible to force the lino to behave in a certain way (like in most of Test Cut 2), but is hard work and the results are not very expressive. I changed my approach for Test Cut 3, and started to work with the tools which I think resulted in a much more interesting and successful print.
  • Spending money on high quality tools pays dividends.

What would I differently/better

  • Using the printing press at Kew Studio gave better, more even results than working at home, and the process was quicker. Using a press will save a lot of time when printing editions.
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