October 09, 2011

Hiatus *update*

Hey folks, so as some people may already know, I'll be taking a hiatus from the illustration/art thing.  I'm going to be living in West Africa for the next two years!  My email will remain the same: david@pencildrifter.com.  Unfortunately however, I will be unable to pursue any freelance gigs for quite some time.  But fear not, you can life in Africa too, well at least vicariously through me; minus all the sweat and heat, by following my adventures on my new blog: davidgoestoafrica.blogspot.com 

*update* March 16th 2012 - just go to pencildrifter.com for pics.

October 27, 2010

D.I.Y.T. Part III of Printing without a Press: Inking & Printing

This is the third and last part of a series of posts about printing without a press.  To view the other post click I, II

Part III - Inking, Registration and Printing
Before I start, just some notes about cutting:
  • You want the gouge to do most of the work for you, you shouldn't be forcing too much pressure into the lino.  
  • Always turn the matrix (linoleum) around as you cut and ALWAYS CUTTING AWAY from your body. 
  •  Keep your free hand behind your cutting hand, never in front of it.  
  • It may also be helpful to make or purchase a cutting bench for added support.

So you've completely cut your image, now we can print.  You'll need your inking slab, brayer, paper and inks.  I used water based inks for these prints for the sake of convenience and quick drying time, normally I would use oil based inks.  I've found that oil based inks give off a richer color, but the clean up is messier/ involves turpentine.

When printing multicolored prints, just like in silkscreening, you start off by printing you're lighter colors first, and the darkest color last.  In my case thats red first then, black. When you roll out your inks on your slap (I use a plate of glass, that I've taped a white matting board underneath) you want the ink to look like velvet and have an even texture that covers the entire brayer.  (It also gives off a certain sound when you roll it, which I can't really explain, but you'll know it once you pull a few prints.)  

Ink your image by rolling the brayer in one direction over the linoleum.

Make sure each part  of the image is completely inked.

Pick a corner of the paper and line it up with the registration indentation you created and line up one of the edges.  

I like to place a separate thin sheet of paper (newsprint works) in-between the back of the paper I'm printing on and the barren/wooden spoon.  Sometimes the barren gets dirty and you end up rubbing that dirt onto the back of the paper, so it's just a buffer to keep the prints clean.  

Try to always keep one hand holding the print down, to prevent it from shifting while you rub with the wooden spoon.  Rub the barren or the back of a wooden spoon on the print, applying equal amounts of pressure.

You can check how the print is doing by lifting the corner opposite the registered corner.

Once you covered the entire surface, you're done lift up to see your print.

Once your print is dry, repeat the same method for the next color, and so on.  If you measured properly in the beginning your colors should register perfectly.  If not you have three other corners you can use to get that registration right.  (I had to shift my marks, hence the additional cuts you see on the block) 

If you're using water baed inks, you'll notice that they start to dry up on the slap, and sometimes right on the block itself, to prevent this I'll have a small cosmetic bottle filled with water nearby.  Give it a a small mist, so it won't dry up soo fast.  I also don't put out a ton of ink from the tube onto the inking slap, in fear of it drying up before I get to the next print.  If you use oil based inks, this isn't a problem, the only problem is you'll need a drying rack to hang up your prints, it takes a least 24 hours for the prints to touch dry. 

It's all trial and error at this point, some prints need a little more elbow grease than others, and results do vary, but thats kind of the beauty to this method, each print, although the same image, is unique and original in its own way.

I hope this helps, good luck printing!
There are a few prints left in the shop, just in time for Halloween, so head on over to the shop and snatch one up before there all gone.

October 20, 2010

D.I.Y.T. - Part II of Printing without a Press: Set-Up and Tracing

This is the second of a series of posts about printing without a press.  To view the 1st part click here.
Part 2: Set-Up Registration marks and Transferring your image.

Once you have your materials and your image ready, you'll have to prepare the linoleum.  It's very tempting to just start cutting away, but if you take the time to do a little measuring in the beginning, it lends itself for better results in the long run.

Here are a few measurements you should know before you cut anything.  You should know:
  1. How big the paper you're printing on is going to be.  Keep the paper size consistent for your editions.
  2. Figure out where you want the image to sit in relationship to the paper's edges. (ie. Do you want a big border around the image)
These measurements will help you maintain consistency if you're printing editions, but more importantly they help you register a multi-colored print.

Once I have those measurements, I draw out on the linoleum, two perpendicular edges.  These two lines will make up our registration corner, and side tabs. Note: if you're going to print different colors on a different block.  The measurements should match for each color/block. So do that first

Now we can cut the registration tabs.  I cut a deep score into the corner and then cutting at an angle I cut a piece out, creating a "stopper" or indentation in the linoleum (see picture below). This indentation on the linoleum will keep the paper flush up against the linoleum, so the paper won't move around while your printing.  

Then, I measure out, about a hands width away from the corner and cut-out a side registration tab, the same way I cut the corner.   Do the same for the other blocks.  
Now you're ready to transfer the image onto the linoleum.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You must flip the image around horizontally onto the block, if not you will end up with a mirrored image as your final print.  This is especially important  if you have any sort of typography in the image.

I scanned my drawing in, flipped it so now I have a mirrored image and printed it out.
I also used the measurement from before (artwork to edge of paper) to figure out were I'd like the image to sit.  Now I can match up the registration marks with the printout.

The simplest way to transfer if you don't have carbon paper, is by simply rubbing a dark pencil, or charcoal pencil on the back of the print out and tracing on top. You can also, make faux carbon paper using vellum, a charcoal stick and rubbing alcohol(email me if you can't figure it out)

So now I traced my image onto each block.  I had already made my color separation decisions before hand:
Straight from the sketchbook.  Sloppy I know, but it works for me
Notice I only traced the part of the image I need to cut for each color. If it were a complex image with more than two colors, I would probably figure out the separations using the computer.

black block
red block
Now comes the fun part cutting.  Notice I kept my sketch pretty loose, I like to do the actual "drawing" while I'm cutting away into the lino, if not it just feels way too mechanical for me.
about an hour or two later and tada!
That's it for this week, next week we'll wrap it up and print using the registration tabs we made and I'll mention a note about cutting safety, so stay tuned. Also, thanks to everyone that was interested in the print I'll be mailing those out shortly.  There are a few left in the shop, get one before its too late!

October 05, 2010

D.I.Y.T. - Part I of Printing without a Press - Materials

This is the first of a series of post where I'll show you guys how I print my linocuts without having to use a printing press.

This is what the final image looks like, it's a two color print 8.25"x11.5" printed on Rives RFK 250 gsm printmaking paper. 
I'm giving one print away, all you have to do is leave a comment at the bottom of this post, by the end of the week I'll randomly select someone (if anyone) and send it to you in the mail, it'll be like your birthday! but not really.

Part I of Printing without a Press - Materials

First off you need to have the appropriate tools and supplies.
You'll need some cutting tools, I use a linoleum cutter handle with a variety of gouges, mainly the large #5 gouge, for scraping away large areas and the #1 liner cutter for fine detail.  You also need a craving knife, the x-acto #5 handle with #24 blades is perfect for scoring around your image on the linoleum it works great on wood too.  I also have a  regular x-acto knife on hand, just in case I need to cut away small leftover pieces where the #1 liner cutter might not cut out, it's also good for getting clean tight corners.

You'll also need of course you linoleum block and your image.  I use un-mounted linoleum, instead of the mounted lino on a block of wood, it's just easier to store away once your done, and I find it easier to manuer when you're cutting away.  The mounted linoleum is just too bulky and clumsy for me.  You can also use the easy-cut linoleum which is a grey color, they also make this thing called "wonder cut", but that stuff is too soft, and your image will warp a little under the pressure from the printing.
I like to have my linoleum block a lot larger than the actual image, and I don't cut all the way to the edge of the linoleum.  This will be important to create a registration if you're printing more than one color, and even if your not, this will allow you to print the image on the paper on the same exact spot for each print.  You'll see how that works as we go along.

And finally, you'll need printing materials to print you're lino-cut.  You'll need a brayer (ink rollers), your inks (I'm using speedballs water based inks), and a wooden spoon, the barren is optional. You're also going to need an inking slab, I use a piece of glass, to roll out your inks (not pictured) Plexi glass can work, but it'll get scratched easily in the clean up process, I prefer sticking with the glass if you can, if not you can also use pallette paper just make sure you tape the edges down onto a flat smooth surface.  If you don't have any of that, a plastic shopping bag works to, just cut out a square, flatten it out, make sure theres no creases, stretch it out  and tape it onto something flat and smooth.(It works fine and is an easy clean up)

If you have any questions about materials, just let me know.

Part 2 next week, Preparing your linoleum and cutting! So stay tuned, and don't forget the giveaway! Just drop me a comment, even if it's a hate comment, for your chance to win a free print, you know you want one.

September 28, 2010

D.I.Y.Tuesdays! - How to keep your paint wet

In an attempt to keep this blog updated on some sort of consistent basis I know dub tuesdays, D.I.Y. Tuesdays!  Ever week (or two) I'll post some sort of tutorial or tip about art-making and my process.  This gives me an excuse to do things I haven't done in a while like printmaking, yay! For this week I'll start off with something simple, something I didn't learn this from school, but from a buddy of mine April.

How to keep your acrylic paints wet on your palette:
I use acrylic gouache for my paintings, it's this stuff Holbein makes called Acryla, I love this stuff it dries quickly and feels like gouache and dries matte, which makes things easier when scanning in the artwork.  A problem I found when first using this paint though, was that it would dry out on my palette way too quickly.  You can buy a Stay-Wet palette that has a sponge underneath, but that costs like 15 bucks and you have to buy their special palette paper-pad every time it runs out.  Screw that, you can make one yourself using stuff you probably already have.
This is what you'll need: a butcher's tray, some paper towels, and wax paper.

Fold and place a sheet of paper towel into the tray

Next add water (just enough for the paper to be completely damp, don't over do it)

Cover with a sheet of wax paper.  The wax paper acts as a layer between the paint and water, it's poreus enough that is give the paint a continuous supply of moisture, while at the same time not allowing the paint to bleed everywhere.

Add your paints and start painting!  As long as the paper towel is moist you can continue to use your perfectly wet paints for as long time, up to a few days (or until the palette gets too muddy from mixing) Cover it with a piece of saran wrap if your'e leaving it out overnight. 

This works great for acrylics and gouache.  One of my former mentors also gave me this tip: using a cosmetics bottle you can spray the paints with water, to extend the wetness of the paints (you can get one at your local CVS, Duane Reade, Walgreens, etc in the travel section).  I also like to reuse the paper towels once they dry; after a while the paints will bleed through the wax paper and onto the paper towel, at which point I use it as a rag to wipe my brushes with.

Sweet, I hope this is useful for someone.  Next week, I walk you through how to print without a press,  prepare a linoleum cut, and maybe some two color registration? we'll see.  I have a bunch of ideas for future posts, but if you guys have any suggestions or questions, just shot me an email or leave it in the comments box.  later.

March 22, 2010

back to basics

Over the past couple of weeks I've been working with my mentor on exercises that have helped me really understand some basic principles of picture making.  Some of these are really basic art school stuff, some I've done before and others I haven't but felt that I understood the concept well enough that there was no need for me to do it.  But, going through these exercises I realized just how little I really was grasping these principles.  It's one thing to talk about something and another thing to actually do it, and you won't learn until you actually do.
These are some of the recent exercises I've done:

Like I said basic stuff, like foundational art school stuff, but I've come to these with a different mindset and really appreciate what one learns from them.  

Here is a clear example of what I guess I'm trying to say.  The first two images below where painted during my 2nd year in college in my color theory class (that was the first time I used gouache and hated it)  
laughable to me now (thats suppose to be an apple!)  But I wasn't really grasping what I was to learn later on (maybe except that the backgrounds were complementary colors) The images below were created recently, they're not perfect, however they illustrate my learning curve: 

When my mentor gave me this assignment, I thought it was going to be easy and I'd be able to bang them out quickly, but they were actually kind of challenging, and because of that I felt like I was learning something while doing them.  

Anyway boring post, I just thought I'd share that. the end.