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Last Updates Published: November 15, 2023

Welcome to the wonderful world of linocut art! If you’re dipping your toes into this creative pool for the first time, or if the idea of lino printing has sparked your curiosity, you’ve found the right place. For over ten years, I’ve journeyed through the intricacies of linocut creation starting when I was a teenager at school (How time flies!) , and I’m excited to share this path with you. As a beginner, you might feel a mix of excitement and uncertainty – fear not! I’m here to guide you step by step, unraveling the joys and challenges of lino printing, and helping you discover the artist within. Let’s embark on this artistic adventure together!

What is Lino Printing?

What is Lino Printing? Lino printing, a traditional relief printmaking method also called lino cutting, involves carving a design into a linoleum block. The raised, uncarved surface is inked with a brayer and pressed onto paper or fabric using a baren, enabling the creation of multiple copies, or editions, of the artwork.

Lino Printing Earth Brown

Earth – Linocut on Brown Craft Paper


Lino printing shares similarities with traditional woodblock printing. However, linoleum is favoured over wood due to its carving-friendly nature.

While some linocut techniques, such as single-colour prints, are straightforward, others involve more intricate processes. These can include reduction printing for multi-coloured outputs or registration techniques for using multiple blocks. This guide focuses on the single-colour linocut technique. Given the high cost of a lino printing press, we’ll be using a baren or wooden spoon for our printing.

Why Choose Linocut?

One of the most appealing aspects of linocut is its simplicity, making it an excellent choice for home artists. Personally, I gravitated towards linocut for this very reason. Unlike other printmaking techniques that often require complex setups or a plethora of tools, linocut is beautifully straightforward. With minimal equipment, you can transform a simple piece of linoleum into a stunning work of art right from your kitchen table or home studio. This ease of access not only makes linocut a practical choice but also opens up a world of creative possibilities for anyone, regardless of their artistic background or experience.

Can You Lino Print at Home?

Absolutely, lino printing can be done at home with just a few basic, affordable tools. Among various relief printmaking methods, linoleum block printing stands out as one of the most user-friendly and easiest to pick up from home.

Whether your goal is to craft homemade Christmas cards or delve into lino print art, our step-by-step guide for beginners will set you on the right path. Due to its approachable nature, many artists choose lino printing as their introduction to printmaking.

Sustainable Printmaking Guide

Explore Further: In-Depth Lino Printing Tutorials

For those passionate about mastering the art of lino printing, we provide meticulous guides for every facet of the technique. As you journey through our materials, look for hyperlinks that lead you to these extensive tutorials, guaranteeing proficiency in each phase of your lino printing journey. Conveniently, these guides are also linked in the boxes below.

Lino Printing Kits

Click here to find the best Lino printing kits.

Lino Cutting Tools

Click here to find the best Lino cutting tools.

Lino For Printing

Click here to find lino for printing.

Lino Printing Rollers

Click here to find lino printing rollers.

Lino Printing Ink

Click here to find lino printing inks.

Printmaking Presses

Click here to find out about printmaking presses.

Disposing of Old Lino

Click here to find out about disposing old lino.

Printmaking Books

Click here to find books on printmaking.

Lino Printing Artists

Click here to find lino printing artists.

Luke Hickman

Author at Hickman Design

Luke Hickman is a printmaker and artist with over 15 years of experience. He studied at Norwich University, graduating with a BA (Hons) Fine Art, and has worked in both the commercial printing and digital marketing industries for over 7 years. Luke’s work revolves around the idea of creating art that can illustrate a story with topics covering war, politics and history.

Read Full Bio

The Lino Printing Process Step by Step

  • Setting up Studio and Workspace
  • Designing Your Lino Print
  • Transferring Your Design onto the Lino
  • How to Cut Lino
  • Inking Your Lino
  • Printing Your Lino Cut
  • Clean Up

Step 1 – Lino Printing Workspace and Equipment Setup

Preparation of Your Work Area for Lino Printing

Before embarking on a lino printing project, ensuring that your workspace is clean, organised, and free from dust and debris is paramount. A well-prepared space not only promotes efficiency and precision but also ensures that your prints remain pristine and unblemished. Below are key steps to adequately prepare your work area for lino printing:

  1. Choose an Appropriate Space: Opt for a well-lit, ventilated area with a sturdy, flat table or bench. Avoid carpeted areas, as lino ink can stain them permanently.
  2. Deep Clean:
    • Begin with a thorough cleaning of the workspace. Dust and wipe down all surfaces.
    • Ensure there are no leftover materials or debris from previous projects.
    • Sweep or vacuum the floor to avoid the inadvertent transfer of dust or fibres onto your lino or paper.
  3. Organise Tools and Materials:
    • Lay out all the necessary tools, such as lino cutters, rollers, and inks, in a logical order, ensuring they’re within easy reach.
    • Store sharp tools in a designated container to avoid accidents.
    • Keep cleaning materials, like rags or paper towels, handy for quick wipe-downs.
  4. Prepare the Lino:
    • Brush off any dust or particles from the lino surface using a soft brush.
    • Ensure the lino is flat. If it’s warped, place it under a heavy book or use a warm (not hot) source like a hairdryer to soften it, then press it flat.
    • I personally prefer to mount lino onto a block of wood or old foamex board to keep lino flat.
    • Here is a short guide on how to flatten lino out that has bowed/curved.
  5. Dust-Free Environment:
    • Consider using a dust sheet or cover to keep your work-in-progress protected when not actively printing.
    • Ensure any open windows or vents don’t encourage the flow of dust or airborne particles onto your workspace.
    • If you have pets, try to keep them away from the work area, as they can introduce both fur and dust.
  6. Hygiene:
    • Wash your hands before starting. Natural oils and residue from your skin can interfere with the ink’s adherence to the lino or paper.
    • Keep a damp cloth nearby to quickly clean your hands if they get ink on them, ensuring you don’t accidentally smudge your work.

Remember, the quality of your final print is significantly influenced by the condition of your workspace. By taking the time to properly prepare and maintain a clean and organised area, you’ll not only foster a seamless printing process but also ensure the creation of impeccable lino prints.

What Equipment Do You Need for Lino Printing?

  • Linoleum Block – My preference is grey lino backed with Hessian due to the detail it captures.
  • Lino Cutting Tools – Over the years I have used a range of cutting tools, my preference are Pfeil cutting tools due to quality of detail you can cut.
  • Lino Printing Ink – I swear by Cranfield Caligo Inks, these inks offer the quality of oil based inks that can be washed with warm soapy water for easy clean up.
  • Paper – For hand printing I recommend lightweight paper around 60gsm to 160gsm, if to heavy then it will be harder to print by hand.
  • Printmaking Brayer (ink roller) – Personally I use a Japanese printmaking brayer, however the Essdee red handle rollers are a good roller to start with.
  • Baren / Wooden Spoon – I use a glass Iron Frog Baren which I had to order from the USA (worth every penny), however a wooden spoon will do the job when starting out.
  • Glass or Perspex Sheet – This is handy to roll ink onto, I have a few old shelves from a fridge, the glass is usually reinforced.
  • Hand Scraper / Palette Knife – Very handy to be able to get the ink out of the pot and work it before rolling ink out.
  • Pencil – Always handy to move an inked lino block about or help plan out any further edits.
  • Carbon Paper – I use carbon paper to help transfer my design from paper to the lino before cutting, however you can draw your design straight onto the lino.

Most of the resources needed for the lino printing process are relatively inexpensive, Hickman Design also sells a range of printmaking equipment and kits to get you started.

Step 2 – Designing Your Lino Print

Equipment Needed


Used to draw onto or print image onto.


Use a pencil or pen to draw out the design.

For beginners, it’s advisable to opt for a straightforward design that can be effectively executed in a single colour. You might consider crafting an image of an entity, such as an animal, or perhaps a subtle repetitive pattern. Additionally, you can lino print from a photograph, tracing over it once its back is coated in chalk or graphite – a method we’ll explore in the subsequent step. Some artists even prefer to sketch their lino cutting ideas directly onto the lino using a brush and ink.

Tips for Creating Your Design:

  1. Remember that the final print will essentially be a mirror image of your block. Therefore, if your design includes text, you’ll need to draft it in reverse.
  2. Initially, draft your design on paper using a pencil, allowing for easy modifications and rectification of any errors.

Additional Steps for Creating Your Design:

  1. Research and Inspiration: Before starting, spend some time looking at existing lino prints. This can provide inspiration, give you a sense of different styles, and help you understand what works well in this medium.
  2. Simplification: Especially for beginners, intricate details can be challenging to carve. Consider simplifying certain aspects of your design to make the carving process smoother.
  3. Tonal Studies: Do a quick tonal sketch to understand the light and dark areas of your design. Lino prints often rely heavily on contrast, so knowing where your darkest darks and lightest lights are can be very beneficial.
  4. Scale Test: Experiment with the size of your design. Sometimes a design might look great small but lose impact when scaled up, or vice versa.
  5. Mock Prints: Before transferring your design to the lino, do a mock print on paper. This can help you visualise the final product and identify areas that might need tweaking.
  6. Feedback: If possible, show your design to someone else. Fresh eyes can offer new perspectives and might spot areas for improvement that you hadn’t considered.
  7. Consider the Negative Space: Remember that in lino printing, the areas you carve away will represent the negative space (or the colour of the paper/substrate you print on). Think about how this negative space will interact with your design.

By taking these extra steps, you can ensure a more well-rounded and thought-out design that will likely lead to a more successful print.

Lino Print Design Image

Use a photograph for your design, print it off and then trace over it.

Lino Printing Design Idea

You can sketch a more complex design for Lino printing.

Step 3 – Transferring Your Design onto the Lino

Equipment Needed

Carbon Paper

Use to transfer the design from paper onto Lino.


Used to outline design once transferred.

Lino Block

Blank Lino block used for printing.


The alternate method to carbon paper.

Once you’re satisfied with your design, the subsequent step is to transfer it to the lino, facilitating an easier carving process. Alternatively, drawing directly onto the lino can be a time-saving option, but keep in mind that this method doesn’t leave you with a reference back to your original design.

Tips for Transferring Your Design:

  1. Transfer your design onto a piece of lino that’s slightly larger than required. This provides a margin for error, especially if your print is slightly off-centre.
  2. Position carbon paper or chalk-backed paper between your sketch and the lino. By tracing over your design, it will effectively transfer onto the lino. It’s vital to remember that when doing so, your design might appear as a mirror image.
  3. After your design becomes visible on the lino, enhance its clarity by retracing with a fine-tipped pen.

Additional Tips for Transferring Your Design:

  1. Transparency: Using tracing paper can help you visualise how your design will look when it’s reversed, especially important if you’re working with text or directional elements in your design.
  2. Stabilise Your Work: Ensure that both your paper and lino are on a non-slip surface. Holding both securely in place will assist in an accurate transfer.
  3. Consistent Pressure: When tracing, apply consistent pressure to make sure all parts of your design are transferred evenly. Missing or faint lines can lead to errors during carving.
  4. Double-Check Before Carving: Once transferred, cross-reference with your original design to ensure that no details have been omitted or incorrectly mirrored.
  5. Lightbox or Window Technique: If your lino is somewhat translucent (like soft cut lino), you can hold it against a window or use a lightbox to see your original design beneath. This can aid in more accurate transfers.
  6. Tape It Down: Use a low-tack tape to temporarily fix your drawing or tracing paper to the lino. This will prevent any movement and misalignment while transferring.
  7. Clear Workspace: Ensure you have a clean and well-lit workspace. Good lighting will enable you to see faint lines more clearly, and a clutter-free area will reduce the chances of accidental smudges.

Remember, preparation is key. Taking the time to ensure your design is accurately and clearly transferred can save you time and frustration in the carving stage.

Types Of Lino For Printing

There are a variety of types of lino sheets for printing. The 2 main types of lino that you come across are soft lino with no backing and tougher lino with a skrim/hessian backing. Generally speaking both types of lino can produce high quality prints. The more accessible softer lino is easier to cut and cheaper, however more traditional tougher lino gives you more control and detail. I personally prefer to work with the grey lino due to the quality of the print it will produce, as well as the longevity of the lino block.

For further reading on this you can check out a blog by Handprinted, where they tested various types of lino for printing.

Lino TypeSuppliers
Easy Cut (Black) - Low Detail Designs For BeginnersSoft Lino Block - 10 Sheets 150mm x 100mm
Speedball Speedy Carve Block (US) 9"X11.75"Pink Soft Lino Block
Hessian Backed (Brown)Backed Lino Block 1 Sheet 300mm x 390mm
Essdee Art LinoEssdee Art Lino 2 Sheets 305mm x 203mm
Zieler Easy Carve LinoZieler Easy Carve Lino 5 Sheets 210mm x 148mm
Battleship GreyHessian Backed (Grey) - 5 Sheets 300mm x 200mm
Essdee Mounted LinoEssdee Mounted Lino - 2 Sheets 75mm x 75mm
Artway Soft Cut Polymer SheetsArtway Soft Cut Polymer Sheets - 3 Sheets 594mm x 420mm
Types of lino for printing

Different types of Lino for Printmaking.

Types of Lino for Printing by

Transferring Your Design With Chalk/6B Pencil

Transferring design onto lino

6B Pencil rubbed on the back of photo which will make a mark on your Lino when drawn over, you can use chalk too.

Transferring design onto lino

Sketching over photo with graphite rubbed on back will produce an outline on Lino.

Sketched design on lino

Outlined design on Lino after drawing over image with graphite on back of paper.

Sketched design on lino

You can hand draw design onto Lino, lines are to help drawing to scale.

Transferring Your Design With Carbon Paper

Other methods include using carbon paper on the back of your design.

Hand drawn design transferred with carbon paper with detail redrawn.

Step 4 – How to Cut Lino

Equipment Needed

Lino Cutter

Lino cutter to carve the design.

Utility Knife

Use a utility knife to cut small areas.

Now you’re prepared to carve the lino. Please note, art-grade lino is easier to work with compared to floor lino. Utilise a Stanley/utility knife or specific lino cutting tools to remove the ‘negative space’ or white areas of your design.

Tips for Carving Your Lino:

  1. Always carve away from yourself when working on your lino print. This helps prevent accidents should the tool slip. It’s prudent to have a first aid kit nearby, just in case.
  2. Begin with small, shallow incisions until you become more accustomed to the carving process.
  3. Lino varies in type: while some are soft and malleable, others can be tougher and may require heating before carving.
  4. Ensure all the carved-out lino bits are thoroughly cleared away.

Additional Tips for Carving Your Lino:

  1. Sharp Tools are Essential: Ensure your cutting tools are always sharp. A dull tool requires more force, making it harder to control and increasing the risk of accidents.
  2. Test Cuts: Before diving into your main design, make some test cuts on a scrap piece of lino. This allows you to understand the material’s resistance and how your tools interact with it.
  3. Use a Bench Hook: A bench hook is a tool that can help secure the lino block while you carve, preventing it from slipping.
  4. Lino Quality: Always invest in good quality lino. Cheaper alternatives may crumble or be inconsistent in texture, making them difficult to carve.
  5. Varying Tool Sizes: Different parts of your design may require different tool sizes. It’s beneficial to have a variety of cutting tools on hand to accommodate both large areas and fine details.
  6. Avoid Over-Carving: Be cautious not to carve too deeply, as this can go all the way through the lino and affect how it prints.
  7. Clean As You Go: Regularly brushing away the lino shavings helps keep your workspace clear and gives you a better view of your progress.
  8. Practice Makes Perfect: Like all artistic processes, the more you practice lino cutting, the better you’ll become. Over time, you’ll develop a steadier hand and a more intuitive understanding of how deep to cut.

Remember, safety first! While lino cutting can be enjoyable and rewarding, it’s crucial to always be aware of where your hands and fingers are in relation to the cutting tools.

Cutting Tools For Lino Printing

Depending on how much money you can spare to buy tools for lino printing determines the quality of the tools available. Shown are a mixture of cheaper and more expensive tools, if you are a beginner I would advise looking for the red handled lino tools which allow you to change the size of the cutting tool. Read the lino cutting tools review to get a better idea of what may be best suited for you.

Lino Printing Tools

Various Lino cutting tools.

Make sure to use the correct sized blade when cutting your Lino.

You can use a utility knife/stanley knife to today up rough edges.

Step 5 – Inking Your Lino

Equipment Needed

Printing Ink

Lino/block printing ink.

Lino Roller

Lino printing roller for ink.

Latex Glove

Latex gloves to keep hands clean.

Should you wish to print in multiple colours, please refer to this step first.

Now, gear up for the thrilling segment of the lino printing journey – the actual printing! Establish a well-organised workspace, acknowledging the propensity of lino printing ink to stain. It might be prudent to don an apron. Numerous varieties of block printing ink are available for linoleum printing: while oil-based inks have the advantage of a slower drying time, their clean-up can be somewhat cumbersome. Caligo Safewash inks, however, are oil-based, deliver a splendid print, and can be conveniently washed off with soapy water.

Preparing Your Lino for Printing:

  1. Stabilise the Lino: Adhere the lino to a wooden or plastic board (like Foamex) to guarantee a uniform printing surface.
  2. Degreasing: Cleanse the lino block with white spirit or warm soapy water to ensure consistent ink application.
  3. Tidy the Edges: Purge the edges of the lino and trim any dangling fragments to prevent their interference with the ink.
  4. Mask the Cut Areas: If there’s unwanted ink in the carved sections, design a mask for those areas using thin paper, ideally around 80gsm or lighter.
  5. Correctional Measures: Utilise a cotton bud doused in water or white spirit to eliminate any undesired lino ink from the carved areas.
  6. Edge Support: Craft a border using surplus lino around your current print’s edges. This acts as a ledge for the roller, preventing it from dipping into carved sections, which could inadvertently introduce ink to unwanted zones of the print, such as the white paper backdrop.

Additional Steps for Preparing Your Lino for Printing:

  1. Test Printing: Before committing to your final paper or fabric, do a few test prints on scrap material. This allows you to understand how the ink transfers and if there are any areas of your lino that need further refinement.
  2. Temperature Considerations: Remember that the room temperature can affect the consistency of the ink. If you find your ink too thick and it’s a cool day, you might want to gently warm it. Conversely, on hot days, ink might become too runny; consider working in a cooler environment or adding a retarder.
  3. Ink Mixing: If you’re looking to achieve a specific shade, mix your inks in advance and make sure you mix a sufficient quantity for your entire print run to ensure consistency.
  4. Keep Your Hands Clean: Ensure your hands are clean when handling both the lino and paper. Oils and dirt from your hands can affect the ink’s adhesion.
  5. Brayer Maintenance: Ensure your brayer (roller) is clean before application and rolls smoothly. An uneven or dirty brayer can lead to inconsistent ink application.
  6. Dry the Lino: If you’ve washed or degreased the lino, ensure it’s thoroughly dry before applying ink. Any moisture can interfere with the ink application.
  7. Backing Material: Consider placing a piece of non-slip material beneath your lino while printing, especially if not mounted on a board. This will prevent it from moving and ensure even pressure when printing. Check out this guide for mounting tips to stop your lino from curving / bowing, which can happen after printing multiple times or cleaning the lino.
  8. Register Marks: If you’re planning a multi-layered print or doing multiple prints, consider creating registration marks. These will help you align your paper consistently for each print.

Remember, lino printing is as much about the process and learning as it is about the final product. Taking these extra precautions will set you up for a smoother experience and a better result.

Inking Your Lino Cut

  • Ink Consistency: The perfect ink for lino printing should have a certain tactile texture. It’s worth noting that printer’s ink is significantly denser than the likes of fountain pen ink.
  • Quantity of Ink: Begin with a minimal amount of ink — roughly the size of your fingertip should suffice for starters. It’s easier to add more ink than to manage an excess.
  • Preparing the Surface: Place a modest dollop of ink onto your glass or Perspex sheet. Utilise the roller to distribute the ink, aiming for an even layer on both the sheet and the roller. As you manoeuvre the ink, it will develop a luxurious, velvety consistency.
  • Rolling Technique: Roll out the ink on the sheet, then shift the block by 90 degrees. Continue to roll ink onto the block, rotating it after each application. This rotation ensures an evenly inked surface across the entire block.
  • Inking the Lino: With your roller laden with ink, apply it to your carved lino block, ensuring uniformity across the design. Remember, consistency is key for sharp, vivid prints.

Lino Printing Rollers & Brayers

One of the key tools for lino printing are the rollers and brayers, they are used to roll ink ink onto your lino printing plate to enable you to print. You can get a variety of lino printing rollers online or please check out our guide on lino printing rollers for more information.

Types Of Inks For Lino Printing

When you create your lino print you need to consider one of the most essential & important materials, which is the ink. You can use waterbased or oil based ink for block & lino printing, each have there own pros and cons which have been listed below to help you make a decision of what you need.

Out of personal choice I would recommend using Caligo Safewash inks that are oil based and can be cleaned with warm soapy water, offering the best of both worlds.

Read The Lino Ink Review
Pros of Oil Based InksCons of Oil Based Inks
Ink is rich in colourClean up uses chemicals
Does not dry quickly on rollers or plate/blockMore expensive & costly
Less flecking (Paper showing through ink)Can cause a mess if on clothing or shoes
Waterproof inks don’t run when wetLonger drying times
Pros of Water Based InksCons of Water Based Inks
Cheaper than oil based inkDry quickly on your plate
Easy cleanup with warm soapy waterColour is not as dense
Quick drying time of printsNot all ink is of great quality/density
Lino backed with foamex board

Lino print backed with foamex plastic to make sure the plate does not warp.

Lino print backed with card and tape to make sure the plate does not warp.

Create frame from old Lino around your Lino print stops roller from slipping off edge when rolling ink.

Clean Lino plate before printing with warm soapy water to remove any grease as this can stop ink printing correctly.

Use a small amount of ink about the size of a pea.

Roll ink until smooth and velvety.

Roll ink onto plate, rotate the plate 90° and then repeat until the plate has been rolled from all angles giving a smooth layer of ink.

Inked lino plate.

Step 6 – Printing Your Lino Cut

Equipment Needed

Printmaking Paper

Paper to print onto.

Printing Baren

Baren to print Lino.

Consider starting with a few trial prints on materials like newsprint. This allows for any necessary adjustments to your linocut – always remember that while you can carve away more material, it’s impossible to replace what’s been removed.

  1. Workspace Preparation:
    • Ensure you have a clean, flat surface to work on. This prevents debris from interfering with your print. Lay down some protective paper or a mat to avoid unnecessary mess.
  2. Placement:
    • Carefully position your inked lino block onto your workspace, ensuring it’s steady and doesn’t wobble or shift. This stability is crucial for an even print.
  3. Paper Selection:
    • Choose a quality paper suitable for lino printing. This often means a paper that’s sturdy yet porous enough to absorb the ink.
    • Gently lay your selected paper over the inked lino block, ensuring no creases or bubbles form.
  4. Pressure Application:
    • Roller: For a uniform print, apply consistent pressure. A pristine ink roller can help you achieve this. Roll firmly but gently across the entirety of the paper.
    • Spoon: Alternatively, if you’re using a spoon, the back of it can be used to apply pressure in circular motions. This technique can be especially useful for intricate designs.
    • Baren: For those who prefer hand printing, a baren is the tool of choice. Its flat surface is ideal for transferring designs from lino to paper with even pressure.
  5. Peeling and Revealing the Art:
    • Starting from one corner, gently and slowly lift the paper. Ensure you’re peeling at a consistent rate, and hold the lino block down to avoid any unwanted shifts.
    • As you lift, your lino artwork will gradually be unveiled. If you notice an area that didn’t transfer well, you can carefully lay the paper back down and apply more pressure to that specific spot.

For the final presentation, print your finest works on high-quality printmaking paper. I personally vouch for Zerkall: Mould Made Printmaking Paper, which boasts an extra smooth finish, dimensions of 53x73cm, and a weight of 150gsm, offering exceptional results for hand printing.

Tips for Printing Your Linocut:

  1. Paper Weight: For designs that show the paper through the print (flecking, not a solid print), opt for a lighter weight paper. When using a baren or hand printing, consider papers weighing 160gsm or less.
  2. Minimise Movement: Ensure stability to prevent any unintended smudging.
  3. Reveal with Care: Gently detach the paper from the lino cut to disclose your masterpiece.
  4. Drying Time: Allow ample time for your print to dry fully.
  5. Securing the Paper: Reserve some margin space on your paper for taping the edges, which can deter any potential shift during the process.
  6. Achieving the Perfect Print: If areas of white are appearing through your ink, increase both the ink volume on the plate and the pressure applied during printing.
  7. Reprinting: Your linocut can be re-inked and reused.
  8. For Challenges: If issues persist, you might want to try dampening the paper. Soak it briefly in water, press between newspaper sheets until it reaches a damp state, and then proceed with the print.

Additional Lino Printing Tips

  • Ink Consistency: Before applying, ensure that the ink’s texture is suitable for your lino. It shouldn’t be too runny or too thick. Test the ink’s consistency on a scrap piece of paper to determine if it’s ready for application.
  • Positioning the Lino: Secure your lino block in place using non-slip mats or a bit of double-sided tape on the underside. This ensures the block doesn’t shift during inking or printing.
  • Pressure Consistency: Whether you’re using a roller, baren, or spoon, ensure you maintain consistent pressure across the entire block for even ink transfer.
  • Cleaning: Once your printing session is complete, clean your lino block, tools, and working surface immediately. This prevents ink from drying and becoming hard to remove later. Use white spirit or a special lino cleaning solution.
  • Storage: Store your lino blocks flat and in a cool, dry place. If stacked, ensure they have a protective layer between them to avoid unwanted ink transfer.
  • Evaluation: After your trial prints, evaluate the clarity, sharpness, and contrast. Make note of areas that require adjustment or more careful inking next time.

Tips for Drying Your Linocut Ink:

  1. Humidity: Choose a drying spot with minimal humidity.
  2. Traditional Drying: During my studies, we often utilised a simple technique: string stretched between two points, from which we hung the prints using pegs.
  3. Layering Prints: If you intend to layer different colours or designs, ensure the previous layer is completely dry before proceeding.
  4. Flattening: Sometimes, the paper may curl slightly after printing. To flatten your prints, place them under a heavy book or in a press once they’re fully dry.

For additional insights, consult this article that offers invaluable advice on the rapid drying of lino prints.

Printing Barrens

Printing barrens are an optional tool you can use for printing your lino cut, they come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. The basic idea is to use a smooth surface and rub on the back of your paper, after the paper is laid onto the inked lino cut. Whilst applying some pressure and rubbing in circular motions it pushes the inked lino cut and paper together, this will print the design onto your paper. For this guide we are using a basic Speed Ball Printing Barren.

Types Of Paper For Lino Printing

For Lino Printing I would recommend using heavy weight papers, 250gsm+ which are designed for printmaking or watercolour painting to get the best results possible. Personally I have always used Fabriano 300gsm paper which is cotton based, the weight stops the paper from warping when there is a lot of ink applied. The heavyweight papers are best if you have a printing press, if using a baren or printing by hand go for lightweight papers which will give you better results.

READ THIS IF NOT USING A PRESS: Check out this great guide on the choosing the best paper for lino printing by hand by Boarding All Rows if you are using a Baren for hand printing.

A Lino printing Baren such as this one from Speedball is ideal to help with printing.

You can use a Lino printing roller to print with, however, results can vary.

Lay paper on top of inked Lino lightly, rub very lightly to make sure the paper wont move.

If you use a Baren rub the back of the paper in circular motions, covering all areas. If you use a roller then roller all areas with a lot of pressure to ensure a solid print.

Slowly peel back paper to reveal your Lino print.

Final Lino print revealed – Paper too thick (Printing with a baren or by hand try paper 160gsm or less)

Step 7 – Clean Up

Equipment Needed

Soap & Water

Hot soapy water to clean Lino.


Sponge to help cleaning.

Don’t worry if your firstborn lino print doesn’t look quite as you imagined; practice makes perfect! Clean your linocut with soapy water; this is important, so it remains unblemished should you wish to use it again. Clean your lino cutting tools carefully to keep them in good condition. If you have any troubleshooting issues during the lino printing process or have any questions on how to do lino printing feel free to contact me via the about page.

Disposing of Lino Guide

How to Store Lino Prints?

Over time lino may dry up and crumble if stored incorrectly, please check the tips below to ensure your lino blocks are kept in best condition:

  • Back the lino on Foamex or thin plywood to help stop the lino bloc curving
  • Keep flat maybe under a book or something heavy
  • Store in a air tight sealed plastic box
  • Store with tissue paper between each block, in case they stick to each other
  • Before carving an old block, heat it up for a minute or 2 on a radiator just to help soften it a little

Make sure to wash all ink off your Lino plate.

Washing after printing

Make sure to wash all ink off your hands.

Bonus – Lino Printing Multiple Colours With A Mask

Equipment Needed

Utility Knife

Use a utility knife to cut small areas.

Newsprint Paper

Newsprint to create your mask.

You will need to repeat the steps up to step 4.

  • Print a copy of your design onto newsprint
  • Cut out areas of the printed design that you want to have a different colour
  • Keep the cut out areas and also the main part of the mask, you will need both later
  • Ink your lino block the light colour first, then apply your mask to stop the light colour being printed in the undesired areas. For example in the design shown I have red and black, the red ink was applied to the block first and then the bulk of the design had the mask applied so only the man was printed in red
  • Print as many of the first colour as needed and then clean the ink off the block
  • Now apply your darker ink, in my design this was black. You will now place the other cut out of the mask onto the lino, the man in my case over the desired area on the lino block to stop the darker ink being printed over the lighter one. Repeat this step for amount of lino prints needed

You can also try reduction printing, which is not covered in this guide yet, but can follow this great guide by Michelle Hughes Design.

2 tone lino print – Greece Riots

Mask used for creating 2 colour print.

Challenges and Common Mistakes in Lino Printing

Lino printing, like any artistic technique, has its set of challenges, particularly for newcomers. Adeptly navigating these pitfalls can be the difference between a print that sings and one that falls flat.

Potential Pitfalls For Beginners:

  • Uneven Ink Coverage: Inconsistent ink application can result in patchy designs. Ensure your ink is spread evenly on the tray and the lino block for consistent prints.
  • Blurred Edges or Smudging: The finished print lacks sharpness. Maintain stability while placing and removing paper from the inked lino. A registration system can help.
  • Difficulty Carving Fine Details: Struggling with intricate details? Always keep your carving tools sharp and consider softening the lino for easier carving.
  • Paper Sticking to Lino: If the paper adheres too strongly, it may be due to excessively wet or thick ink. Adjust ink consistency and drying times accordingly.
  • Lino Block Movement: A shifting lino block can result in mistakes. Secure the lino with non-slip mats or double-sided tape for a stable carving surface.
  • Ink Adhesion Issues: If ink beads up or doesn’t spread evenly, the lino may be oily. Clean the block with detergent or white spirit before inking.

Tips To Avoid Common Errors:

  • Gradual Progression: Begin with simpler designs. As your confidence grows, tackle more intricate patterns, honing your skills incrementally.
  • High-Quality Tools: Quality tools, such as professional-grade carving tools and brayers, can prevent many beginner issues.
  • Maintain a Clean Workspace: Always clean up residual ink and debris post-printing. A clean work area ensures clearer prints.
  • Join a Community: The lino printing community is a rich source of knowledge. Seek advice from seasoned artists, attend workshops, or participate in online groups.
  • Always Test: Before diving into the final print, make some test impressions. This can highlight issues with ink consistency, carving depth, or paper quality, allowing for adjustments.

By immersing yourself in the nuances of lino printing and preemptively addressing possible challenges, novices can swiftly enhance their skill set, producing captivating prints in the process.

Lino Printing History

Block printing originated in China around 200AD. The use of lino was introduced in German early in the 20th century for wallpaper printing; the lino printing process became a popular method for illustrating children’s books in the 1940s. Lacking the directional grain of wood and being easier to carve, lino can produce a greater variety of results and is a much less expensive medium to work with.

Chinese block printing

Diamond Sutra from Tang Dynasty China | AD 868 | The worlds earliest printed & dated book.

Famous Lino Print Artists

UK Modernist artists Cyril Power and Sybil Andrew produced successful linocuts both independently and in partnership, often inspired by the boats on the Thames. Spanish Cubist artist Pablo Picasso turned his hand to the lino printing process in the 1940s and 1950s, producing striking graphic posters presenting abstract portraits and bullfighting. Current US street artist Swoon leaves linocut human figures in public spaces.

Comments & Notes

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