Welcome at To be defined

Welcome at To be defined, a website filled with creativity. Here you will find numerous manuals in words and images on various subjects. On this page you can only see a selection. Choose from the menu on the left for more articles on your favorite topic.
Girl, exampleI have had tools and materials for cutting linoleum for ages but have never actually gotten around to it. The last time I really cut linoleum was at least 30 years ago. Time for a refresher course. I am going to use the attached photo as a starting point. Hopefully, this article will inspire more people to try linoleum cutting. It's actually a very simple but enjoyable technique.

cutoutI find the entire photo unsuitable for replicating with linoleum; it's too crowded. I choose to extract a cutout from the image, which I will further develop. I adjust both the cutout and the piece of linoleum I'm using to match each other in size immediately to avoid problems later. Both the cutout and the linoleum have a ratio of 5:6. My linoleum measures 25 by 30 cm.
Mirrored imageLinoleum cutting is a printing technique. In printing techniques, the print is generally mirrored. However, I want my print to match the image I've chosen, so I mirror the image before further editing to avoid forgetting later.
Enhanced contrastLinoleum cutting is a technique where you can use multiple colors. However, this requires some practice. The colors are printed one by one, and the prints must align exactly. For this first attempt, I won't make it too difficult and will make a print in one color only. I need to convert my chosen image into a two-color image: the background color (usually white paper) and the ink color. It can be any color as long as it contrasts with the paper. I will edit the image in Paint Shop Pro 9 until I'm satisfied. The actions I'm taking are quite general and can be done with many drawing packages. To start, I'll increase the contrast to enhance the difference between, for example, hair and skin.
Convert to grayPaint Shop Pro has a fun function called "posterize." This allows you to specify how many shades a picture should be divided into. This function can be applied to both color and grayscale images, but for what I want to do, I need to convert the image to grayscale first. Essentially, I now only have black and white in my picture, although it's not yet suitable for linoleum.
PosterizeNNow that the image has been converted to grayscale, I will use the "posterize" function. I choose 2 shades. After the function is executed, I only have black and white in my picture. That's precisely what I need to convert it into a linocut. However, I'm still not entirely satisfied with the details. I can never get the exact details I want; for example, the eyes are missing. That's okay; I have a good starting point, and I'll add the details myself.
The designI combine the black and white version with the original cutout. For example, you can see that the eyes are now visible again. I also added some more contour to the cheeks, a collar because I like it, and a background of circles. In linoleum cutting, there shouldn't be too large cutout areas. Paper can be pressed into those areas, causing unwanted ink stains on your print. A good linocut has a ratio of about 50% between the cutout parts and the uncut parts.

Transfer the sketch with carbon paperNow that the design is done, it needs to be transferred to the linoleum. You can easily do this with old-fashioned carbon paper. To ensure that your design doesn't slide on the linoleum during transfer, you can pin it down with thumbtacks. Just push the thumbtacks through your design and the carbon paper. Be sure to place the thumbtacks on points that will be cut away. Those are the white parts in your design.
The design is transferredThe design has been transferred to the linoleum using carbon paper, but as you can see, those lines don't have much contrast. Therefore, you need to trace the lines again with a waterproof marker in a good contrasting color. Here, I used a black marker.
Darkening the sketch with black markerWhile tracing with a black marker, I also fill in the areas that are black in my design. All black parts will be left, and the red parts will be cut away with a linoleum cutter. By clearly marking the parts that should remain, I reduce the risk of mistakes later..
Ready to cutOnce I'm done, I double-check to ensure I haven't forgotten any parts to make black. The red parts will be cut away, and once cut, they cannot be restored. So, it's essential to carefully check if the image is as I want it to be.
Linoleum cutting boardWhen carving linoleum, you need to exert some force at times. At the same time, it's important not to lose control of your cutting hand and not to cut too far. Always cut away from yourself when linoleum cutting. So, you cut away from yourself and not towards yourself. Linocutters are very sharp, and you can injure yourself badly if you cut into your hand or arm. To work more easily and safely, linoleum cutting boards are available. You can see I have my linoleum on one here. I made my cutting board myself, which is straightforward. On a plank of a handy size, you make two slats horizontally, one at the top and one at the bottom of the plank. The bottom slat rests against the edge of the table, and your linoleum rests against the top slat. Now you can exert controlled force without your linoleum sliding.
The carvingCarving is quite time-consuming. Most linocutters come in sets with a holder and 5 different-sized blades. Choose small cutters for precise work and larger ones for larger areas. Ensure good lighting and only cut away the uncolored areas. In my case, those are the red areas. It's sometimes helpful to rotate your linoleum on the board. That's not a problem. Always choose the position that allows you to cut away from yourself most effectively.

SuppliesNow that the design is complete and cut out, we can start with the actual printing. For printing, we need paper and ink. I use oil-based block printing ink. It dries a bit slower, allowing you to work more leisurely. Additionally, some wiping cloths are handy. Sometimes, after the first print, you realize that not enough linoleum has been cut away, so keep your cutters at hand. To apply ink to the linoleum, I use a narrow roller and a glass plate, and to transfer the print to the paper, a wider roller. Of course, we also need the cut-out linoleum.
Ink on the glass plateApply a blob of ink to the glass plate. Here, I used black, but you can mix colors or apply different colors to your print.
Rolling the inkAfter applying the ink to the glass plate, I will roll the roller over the glass plate. Now, a nice even layer forms on the roller. And I will transfer this layer back onto the linoleum.
Applying inkNow gently roll the inked roller over the linoleum. Keep the roller nice and flat, especially avoiding touching the cut-out part of the linoleum on larger areas. The roller needs to be inked again regularly.
Cover the edges wellMake sure to also cover the edges of your design well. By looking slightly askew over your linoleum, you can tell from the shine of the ink whether you have applied enough ink everywhere. The shine should be consistent everywhere. Duller areas are not sufficiently inked. By the way, I'm simply using A3 printer paper for printing.
Press the paper with a rollerIf everything is properly inked, you can carefully place the paper on the linoleum. Place the paper on it at once, and then do not move it anymore. With the wider roller, now roll over the paper in various directions. Press firmly, but try to keep the roller flat and avoid pushing into the cut-out parts. Really go over all the pieces in multiple directions.
Lift the paper carefullyOnce you have pressed the paper everywhere, remove it from the linoleum in one motion. Start at one of the points and pull it up carefully. Oil-based block printing ink dries slowly, so do not touch the print yet.
The first printWell, there's the first print. A nice result. Evaluate your print and see if you might need to cut away some more linoleum somewhere, and where you might need to press the paper better next time. For each print, you need to ink the linoleum again.
Dry on the clotheslineIf you don't have much space at home, a clothesline is an ideal place to let your prints dry. Preferably use plastic clothespins, and let the print hang quietly for a day. After you're done, all materials with ink on them should be cleaned thoroughly. The best way to do this is with odorless turpentine. It smells the least and is also the least harmful to your health and the environment. If you want to make more prints later, you can. Just start again on page 3 of this article.

Have fun.