Friday, May 4, 2012

The Continuous Line Technique

I  have a rule that all my lines be continuous in order to preserve the integrity of the subject matter. Where they join other lines, I am careful to keep all the lines intact. So for example, you can see in the linocut and print of the Burmese cat below, all the lines are continous.
One continuous cut all the way round the cat.

At the tail, for example, none of the lines which meet are cut -
the tail is very much connected to the body.

This technique helps to make different parts of a design stand out.  Take my Christmas card design of mice decorating a tree.

Christmas tree mice
If you take a closer look, you will see that each of the mice are defined by a continuous line, so that they stand out from the background of the tree and the snowflakes.

Each mouse is defined by a continuous line all the way round.
Like these prints?  Have a look at:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

White or Black Lines?

The creation of lines is very important, and you need to give some thought to this prior to hacking gaily into your lino!  First of all, there is the basic decision of whether you want to use your lino tool simply to create a white line on coloured background - see the example below by one of my workshop participants.
Fantastic linocut of a cone created by a
workshop participant at the Birnam Institute.
The alternative is to use your linocutting tool to create a black line by clearing the lino out from either side of the line and leaving the lino raised, which means it will take on the ink.  On the whole, this is the approach I favour.   

The linocut and the print below demonstrates both techniques.  The lettering is created by using the tool to 'write' the letters directly - so it turns out as a white line on a dark background.  The mice have been created by using the tool to scoop out the internal part of each mouse and the area around each mouse - but leaving the outlines intact.

The original linocut showing the techniques for creating both black and white lines ...

...and the print of the linocut.  Clear white lettering and bold black outlines for the mice.

In creating an outline, you must be careful not to over cut and make your line too thin as this leads to a weak, uninteresting print.  In the example of the Daddy Bear designs below, you can see that the second version is much stronger as the external lines of Daddy Bear are much thicker.  He has a much more defined shape, particularly in comparison to the first print.

Unclear linocut design, where the outlines are too thin and ill-defined

Successful linocut design, with thicker lines creating better definition of the subject

Like these prints?  Have a look at:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Areas of Contrast in One Colour Linocuts

When planning your linocut, one of the first things you will need to consider is creating areas of contrast: solid colour vs blank areas; and plain vs. textured areas.

Plain vs textured

Blank vs solid

You should try to seek achieve a balance between these.  The dachshunds print below is a good lesson in achieving a balance of contrast between solid colour and blank areas. 
Linocut demonstrating good balance of solid vs blank areas.

The badger print illustrates a harmonious balance between textured, solid and plain areas.

Badger print illustrates successful balance of solid, plain and textured areas.

Have a look at the design below of Daddy Bear using the printing press.

In this first print, the details of Daddy Bear are lost in an area which is too textured.  Texture dominates the print with too small an area of solid colour.

This second linocut is much more successful.  Daddy Bear is seen from a different angle.  Although the coat is still textured, the new pose opens up more opportunities for creating contrast.  The press occupies a greater area of the linocut.  As it is a solid area, it acts as a better background to Daddy Bear, and allows him to stand out more. Finally, the background is plain which works much better than the textured background in the linocut above.