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

This is the second post of a series of posts about printing without a press.  To view the Part I click here.

Part II: Setting 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 bit of measuring in the beginning of the process, 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.  You should try and keep your paper size consistent when printing 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 or do you want it to sit close to the border of the paper)
These measurements will help you maintain consistency if you're printing editions, but more importantly they help you align your paper to you blocks when printing a multi-colored print.

Once you have your measurements, I draw on the linoleum two perpendicular edges.  Where these two lines meet will make up our registration corner and side tabs. Because I'm using to different linoleum blocks, one for each color, I'll have to draw these lines registration marks twice.

Next cut a deep score into the corner and then cutting at an angle creating a "stopper" or indentation in the linoleum (see picture below). This indentation on the linoleum will keep the corner of the paper flush up against the linoleum, and prevent the paper from moving around while your printing.  

Next, 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 block.  
Now you're ready to transfer the image onto the linoleum.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You must flip your 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 text incorporated 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 printouts.

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.

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 or use markers/colored pencils and tracing paper to separate.

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 linoleum.
about an hour or two later and tada!
Follow the link to Part III of Printing without a Press, where I will go over printing using the registration tabs and I'll share some tips about cutting safely.


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