September 25, 2023


How Art Works

Linocut Carving Methods for Learners

7 min read

Linocut: Be taught in a Weekend is a brand new e-book by Margate based mostly linocut artist and printmaker, Nick Morley. Printed by Skittledog (an imprint of Thames & Hudson Ltd.) the e-book guides you thru the instruments and supplies you have to, and offers various initiatives to get you began. Under is a chapter from the e-book that outlines the varied linocut carving strategies you should use to familiarise your self with linocutting earlier than you make a begin.


Linocut Carving Techniques

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Linocut: Be taught in a Weekend – Linocut Carving Methods

Textual content by Nick Morley | Images by Rita Platts

Carving lino may be very stress-free; some folks discover it nearly addictive. Like every talent, it takes apply to construct up your confidence. Earlier than you sort out any of the initiatives I recommend you carve a check block to get used to the instruments, and check out all of the totally different strategies that observe. The initiatives every use a number of of those strategies. You may refer again to this part at any time for those who want a reminder.


What You Will Want

• Lino block

• Everlasting marker pen or acrylic paint

• Paper towel

• Chopping instruments

• Non-slip mat


Begin by making a check block to experiment with carving a wide range of marks and to get a really feel for the totally different instruments. You should use the instance on web page 21 as a information however be at liberty to check out your individual concepts. Don’t fear about making your marks appear to be a coherent design, consider it extra like a sampler which you’ll be able to refer again to. After getting completed carving your check block, print it by following the directions within the Printing part.

Earlier than you begin, color within the floor of the block with the marker pen or brush some acrylic paint diluted with water onto the floor after which wipe it off with a paper towel. You need simply sufficient to stain the floor, with out leaving any bumps or ridges of paint. This stage is optionally available, however makes it simpler to see your carved marks. The components of the lino you take away are going to be white, assuming you might be printing on white paper. Colouring the block helps your mind get used to this, because the components you carve out will seem lighter than the uncut areas.


Linocut Carving Techniques


Linocut Carving Security

The instruments are sharp, so to keep away from slicing your self, all the time carve away out of your fingers and away out of your physique. You’ll need to carry the lino along with your second hand, so ensure you are holding it to the facet or behind your slicing device. Place a non-slip mat beneath the block if you end up carving to cease it shifting round.


Holding the Instruments

Maintain the device so the deal with is within the centre of your palm. Your fingers ought to be pretty relaxed, along with your first finger pointing straight down the shaft. Make certain the device is the suitable manner up, with the innovative pointing straight down.

The angle you maintain the device at will decide whether or not the slicing tip strikes ahead in a stage manner as you push on the device, or strikes up or down. By elevating or reducing your wrist you possibly can management this. Elevate your wrist barely to make a steeper angle and the device will go deeper into the lino. Decrease your wrist to make a shallower angle to deliver the slicing tip again up in direction of the floor. In between you need to discover the precise angle at which the device travels ahead in a steady line. This angle might fluctuate between instruments.


The precise angle it’s essential maintain the device will fluctuate barely relying on which device you might be utilizing.


Two widespread issues can occur right here. If the device goes too deep it may possibly begin to tear the lino, and even get caught utterly. If this occurs, decrease your wrist barely to deliver the slicing tip up. Alternatively, if the device retains skidding and you are feeling that you just’re not 
in management, deliver your wrist up barely so the slicing 
tip goes down. These changes are refined and take 
a bit time to grasp, however it’s higher to practise now 
so you possibly can management your slicing if you do your 
first challenge.

You can find that it’s important to push tougher with the bigger instruments, as you might be eradicating extra lino. Attempt to push the device along with your complete arm, utilizing your physique weight to generate the drive. While you use the smaller instruments or make shallower cuts, you want much less drive – a small motion of the wrist could also be sufficient. Your slicing approach will develop over time, however do attempt to maintain every thing relaxed as a lot as doable … and keep in mind to breathe!


Linocut Carving Techniques


Take a look at Block Print Key

1. Various widths of line made by totally different instruments. Discover how the 2 ends of every line you carve are formed by the device. High to backside: 1 mm U, 3 mm U, 5 mm U, 1 mm V, giant V (shallow minimize), giant V (deep minimize).

2. Traces with a sq. finish. High to backside: 3 mm U, 5 mm U, giant V.

3. Curved traces. High to backside: 1 mm V, 1 mm U, 3 mm U.

4. Various width line made with giant V.

5. Circle made with 3 mm U.

6. Dots. High to backside: 1 mm U, 3 mm U, 5 mm U.

7. Semicircles made with 3 mm and 5 mm U. Triangles made with giant V.

8. Stars made with giant V.

9–10. Giant V.

11. Giant V carving with sideways and up-and-down movement.

12. Giant U semicircles.

13. 1 mm U wavy traces.

14. Giant V tapered traces.

15–17. 3 mm U.

18. 1 mm V.

19–21. 5 mm U.


Carving a straight line

Practise making straight, even traces of various lengths in your check block with every of your instruments. A good width of line is greatest made with a U-shaped device, with the scale of device figuring out the width. Use the big V-shaped device to chop a wide range of widths of line, together with a really positive line.


Various width of line

By various the depth of the device you may make the road wider or narrower. That is particularly efficient with the V-shaped device. Elevate and decrease your wrist as you carve. Attempt a curved line by shifting your wrist backward and forward in addition to up and down.


Making a line with a sq. finish

As a substitute of reducing your wrist on the finish of a line, cease the device the place you need the road to finish, leaving the lino shaving connected to the block. Carry the slicing tip straight again about 2–3mm. Raise the slicing tip to bend the lino shaving up and over till it breaks off.

Linocut Carving Techniques


Carving a circle

To make a circle or a pronounced curve, rotate the block as you carve. This method is simpler with a U-shaped device and with out the non-slip mat. Lean into the device and push the block in opposition to it along with your different hand, being cautious to not minimize in direction of your fingers. Rotate the block as you chop, maintaining your slicing hand regular.


Curved traces

Mild curves may be made by shifting your wrist or arm left and proper as you chop forwards. Extra pronounced curves might require you to maneuver your complete physique. Attempt to maintain your hand stage as you progress, so the slicing tip of the device stays upright.

Linocut Carving Techniques


Little semicircles and triangles

To make a semicircle, maintain the U-shaped device at 45 levels and stick it into the lino, then pull it again out midway. Raise the device to bend the piece of lino again on itself till it breaks off. Triangles may be made in the identical manner as semicircles, however utilizing a big V-shaped device.



You may make different-sized dots utilizing every of the U-shaped instruments. Maintain the device at 45 levels and stick it into the lino a bit manner, then maintain the device regular whilst you rotate the block round it in a circle. The dots won’t all the time be completely spherical, however with a bit apply you may get them fairly shut.

Linocut Carving Techniques



To make a star, carve inwards from the tip of every level of the star in direction of the centre utilizing the big V-shaped device. Maintain the device at a steep angle so the purpose goes down in direction of the centre of the star.



Textual content Copyright © 2023 Nick Morley
Images Copyright © 2023 Rita Platts
Linocut: Be taught in a Weekend revealed by Skittledog (an imprint of Thames & Hudson Ltd.)



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