Tag: printmaking how to

Linoleum Relief Printmaking Basics + Colored Pencils

Printmaking is such an interesting and historic art making process. My students especially love it because they have the ability to make multiple prints of one image. They often refer to the linoleum block in relief printmaking as a “stamp,” which I have an irrational hatred for. Somehow calling it a  “stamp” lowers the artistic value for me. Or maybe I am just annoyed because they aren’t using their art vocabulary. Regardless, I always try to incorporate printmaking into at least one of my art classes, and relief printmaking is typically the way I go.

For this particular assignment I use linoleum blocks and a number of printmaking specific tools. However, there are a number of ways to incorporate the same basic concepts without the expense of the tools. One option for a simpler version of this is using natural materials you can easily find around your house to create designs to print with. Check out my supply list and how to for this portrait based relief printmaking project below.


An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

SUPPLIES:

  • Computer and printer to edit image and print it
  • Pencil
  • Graphite paper
  • Linoleum block
  • Linocutters and/or other carving tools.
  • Brayer
  • Baren (a wooden spoon also works very well)
  • Printmaking ink
  • Newsprint (for proofs)
  • White paper and rulers, to create registrations
  • Printmaking paper
  • Colored pencils (Prisma colored pencils are my number one choice)
  • Erasers
  • Black paper to mount and display the finished works of art

HOW TO

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

For the first step you need to select your image. For this particular assignment, my students focus on a portrait. I always encourage them to select someone they know personally. I have found that if my students can develop a personal connection to the assignment they become more committed to the end product. It is also a great way for students to express themselves individually within the constraints of a general topic.

Once you select the image, you must simplify it. For this assignment, my students are creating prints with a single color, so they must simplify their image to just black and white. Not all images work well when converted to only black and white, so it is helpful to try editing at least three different options and select the most successful one.

For this step I use Photoshop. I open the image, select “Image-Mode-Grayscale.” Next, you select “Image-Adjustments-Posterize” and set the number to 2. This leaves just black and white in the image. With printmaking, you are creating a mirror image of the original design. Therefore, it’s helpful for students to flip their images before printing (to do this go to “Image-Image Rotation-Flip Canvas Horizontal”). This is especially true when dealing with portraits. It’s shocking how different a person can look when you create a mirror image of them. Next, size the image to the linoleum block. These were smaller, so I sized my image to 4″x4″ then printed a few copies out. SIDE NOTE: I have done 4″x4″ prints in the past, which saves money on linoleum, but with the colored pencil addition at the end, it is much more successful with a larger size such as 6″x6″ or 8″x8″

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

After your picture is printed and ready to go, you need to re-draw it on the linoleum block or transfer the image to the block. Because this is an introduction to printmaking I prefer to have students transfer the images. This frees up a lot of time for them to focus on the printmaking process. To do this, place graphite paper between the linoleum block and the printed image. Trace over the lines. TIP: tape the top of the image to the linoleum block. That way you can lift the image and make sure you didn’t miss anything without accidentally moving it.  TIP x2: Fill in the areas you want to keep un-carved with pencil, leave the areas you want to carve blank.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

At this point you are finally ready to start carving. Start with larger areas and make your way down to the small details. Switch out the linocutter blades as necessary. ALWAYS cut away from your body and hands. It’s very tempting to cut towards your hand, but these suckers are sharp and it’s very easy to gouge yourself. As I tell my students, “please don’t make me fill out an incident report today.”

With this lesson you can either print onto a sheet of paper, without worrying about the placement and trim the edges later, or you can create a register to help you line up pre-cut paper and center your print in the printing process. I prefer the later because it also introduces a measuring and precision element to the assignment, which covers a different skillset and pushes them to think a different way during the assignment.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

Once your image is fully carved out, it’s time to ink and print! I like to work directly on my tabletop for this, although a flat piece of tile would work well and be easier to clean. Place a small spoonful of ink onto your surface, and roll it out using the brayer until you have an even application on the roller. Roll the ink onto the linoleum block, make sure you cover the entire block and have even application. You may notice ink catching areas that aren’t carved low enough. This is why your first few prints are printed on newsprint. It’s cheap paper you can test your prints on until you have the carving just right.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

If using a register, place your block in the center and line your paper up with the outer lines. Use a baren (or a wooden spoon) to burnish the back of the paper. Press down and move in small circles hitting every section of the block. Carefully peel the paper off and admire your print!

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

With the first few prints you are looking for changes that need to be made. I had many areas where I didn’t carve low enough and the ink kept catching small lines in the background. Go back, carve those areas down, and start the process over. Once you are satisfied with your print, start printing on printmaking paper.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

It will take a few tries to get the correct ink application. Keep printing until you get at least five quality prints. Make sure you aren’t going too light (a fuzzy, uneven look) or too heavy (small lines in your image are filled in with ink).

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

To add another element (and a little color) to the print, I decided to add a colored pencil aspect. Since this project specifically focuses on portraits, I decided it was a great opportunity to include a lesson on creating skin tone with colored pencils. The students select one of their five prints to add color to. For my portrait I needed a lighter skin tone and used the following Prima colored pencils colors:

  • White
  • Cream
  • Beige
  • Light Peach
  • Peach
  • Rosy Beige
  • Lilac
  • Light Umber
  • Chocoloate
  • Sienna Brown
  • Tuscan Red

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

When using colored pencils it’s very important to work in light layers. If too much pigment is put down at once, it creates a waxy layer. The waxiness prevents additional color from sticking and you will end up with a much flatter looking image. It’s important to get layers of various colors to create more depth in your image.

When I work with colored pencils I add in a few highlights to start blocking out the color, then move to the darks and work dark to light from there. With something soft, like skin, it’s best to color in small circles to mimic the softness.

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

In addition to adding skin tone, I also decided to add a pop of blue in the background. It gave me a way to define edges at the top of the image to create more of a frame and blue reminds me of my grandmother who *unknowingly* became the subject of this lesson. She is a wonderful 94 year old woman who has an iPad and regularly texts on her iPhone (with text special effects I didn’t even know existed) and made me mac n’ cheese and animal shaped pancakes as a child. It doesn’t get much better than that in the realm of grandmothers.

Want to discover more art lessons? This relief printmaking post is part of an art education specific blog hop. My lesson connects to Karen Phillip’s lesson on printmaking with natural materials by making stamps out of potatoes and dying fabric with cabbage, onion skins, and blackberries. Check out Stacey Peter’s lesson next, which connects through mixed media. Her students create mixed media collages that focus on their hometowns, and has a literary tie in. Don’t miss anyone in the loop (or any of the amazing lessons) the list of art teacher’s involved in the blog hop is below:

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Help me spread the word about making art education personal and getting kids creating by sharing on your social network of choice. Also, if you are interested in purchasing this relief printmaking lesson plan, PowerPoints, handouts, and other materials I use for this lesson, check it out on my TPT store here. Thanks for stopping by!

An introduction to relief printmaking that covers the basics of using linoleum to make a portrait print. This assignment is turned into a mixed media project by incorporating Prisma colored pencils to fill in the skin tone of the portrait. This is one post in an art education blog hop. Visit and check out more!

Semester High School Drawing Curriculum: 12 Lessons in 18 Weeks

In my teaching career I have taught a wide range of art courses: Introduction to Art, Drawing, Painting, Advanced 2D Design, AP Art, 3D Design, 3D Design II, and 3D Design III. I have loved teaching such a variety because it has given me the opportunity to develop and test a breadth of lesson plans. The past two years I have been working on compiling my favorite lessons into curriculum packs to sell on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. My most recent posting on my store is my semester long drawing curriculum pack. I have taught every single one of these lessons (plus more that I tested, failed, and left out so you don’t have to) and these are my top twelve.

This drawing curriculum includes information and resources to fill every single day of the semester in your drawing class. Other than making copies of worksheets and doing a handful of demos, you don’t have to plan a thing for the semester. Each project includes a detailed lesson plan (including big ideas, essential questions, national standards, vocabulary, and step by step instructions), rubrics, critique information, and handouts. In addition to the project packs I have included my syllabus, get to know you worksheets, a timeline, breaking down the semester into days and weeks, and supply list.

Check out information on the individual projects below:

The first project of the semester is learning the Belgian bookbinding technique and using it to create your own sketchbook. This not only saves money on purchasing sketchbooks, but it also introduces the students to book cover design and bookbinding techniques. In addition to a PowerPoint, lesson plan, and rubric, this also includes a how to worksheet and how to video. This product is sold individually here.

In every class I teach I include a weekly focus on visual journals. Each Friday students have the option to work in their visual journal, have free art time, or catch up on an assignment. By the end of the semester they must have at least 12 pages completed in their book. The PowerPoint to introduce this project, lesson plan, and rubric are included in this pack.

Before the students start longer drawing projects, they complete a shading review. Seven worksheets are included that cover graphite pencils, hatching, cross hatching, scribbling, stippling, and a general shading worksheet. The front of the worksheets include information and the students must complete the activities on the back. This product can be purchased individually here.

The first true drawing assignment is a still life drawing. However, I put a twist on it by requiring the students to bring in objects to create the still life. Before starting the drawing, the students learn about still lifes at various periods in art history. at both traditional and modern versions of still lifes. They must apply their understanding of various shading techniques by including at least three of them in their drawing. Check out the individual link for this product here.

Once the class has a few drawing projects under their belt, we look at combining technology and art by creating their own GIFs. They must draw the majority of the design, then use various computer programs to compile their drawings, add to them, then create an animated version of them. You can read more about this project in my blog post here.

Once the students have a handle on using pencils, we move onto charcoal drawings. One of the best ways I have found to teach how to shade using charcoal is through the traditional charcoal drapery drawing lesson. A PowerPoint about charcoal, in depth lesson plan, rubric, and critique are included. You can purchase this lesson individually here.

After learning about charcoal, the students apply their knowledge to a mixed media work of art that includes shading with charcoal. For this assignment, the students must select an object and redraw it on a background layered with color and text. The object is meant to serve as a metaphor for who they are, a part of their personality, or interests. I love any cross disciplinary lessons, and this does a great job combining English and art. Check out specifics of this project here.

After completing a metaphorical self portrait, the students are asked to create an actual self portrait drawing, with a twist. The students must select a current event that interests them and reflect it through their portrait. In addition, they have to scan their faces using a copier or scanner to create an unusual and ethereal look to their portrait. They then re-draw their scanned image using pencil. This project pack includes multiple PowerPoints to introduce the project and show examples of current artists who create social and politically driven artwork. In addition to the PowerPoints are an in depth lesson plan, rubric, critique sheet, and brainstorm worksheet. Check out more here.

After working mostly in black and white, students have the chance to do a full color drawing using colored pencils. They are asked to think outside of the box and take a photograph that reflects the topic, “unexpected beauty.” They then turn the photograph into a colored pencil drawing. Colored pencil techniques are covered in the introduction PowerPoint. Check out more information about it here.

After learning about colored pencils, we start moving towards different media that still use traditional drawing techniques, such as scratchboard. Social media is the focus of the lesson and students are asked to create a scratchboard image that reflects a snapshot of their day. History about scratchboard, as well as techniques, are included in the PowerPoint. Detailed instructions on how to teach the lesson are included in the lesson plan, as well as the rubric and critique sheet. This lesson can be purchased individually here.

Printmaking is a natural next step after learning about scratchboard. The basic concepts are similar, removing highlighted areas and leaving dark areas. For this assignment, students create a portrait out of a linoleum block. They use traditional relief printmaking techniques to create at least 5 quality prints and one print must be colored in using colored pencils. In addition to a PowerPoint, lesson plan, rubric, and critique sheet, this also includes a handout on which colors to use to create a range of skin tones and a worksheet to test various color combinations. An in-depth look at this lesson will be coming soon. In the meantime, check out the product listing here.

The final lesson in the curriculum is design your own project. The students can try out a technique or material they didn’t get a chance to or redo a project they liked or could improve on.

It took me years to develop this curriculum and it is very gratifying to see it all compiled in one place. Check out the individual product links above or check out the entire curriculum here. You save $16.00 by purchasing it as a bundle pack. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and my latest TPT product. Help me spread the word about art education, lessons, and art in general by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!