Woodcut printing

Like linocut, woodcut printing is a relief printing technique. The areas of the wood block that should not print are cut away using various gourges and knives. A mirror image of the desired picture is cut.

There are two approaches:

1. The multi-block method: A different wood block is cut for every colour of a multicolour woodcut print. The different colours do not have to be printed on top of one another. Regions where the different blocks overlap have a ‘mixed colour’ depending on the transparancy of the inks used cf: watercolour techniques.  The artist is able to test various colour combinations and print different series.

2. The single-block method: The same block is used for all colours. Once the first colour has been printed the block is cut further and used to print the second colour etc. One colour is always printed on top of the other i.e., all colours except the first are mixtures depending on the transparancy of the inks. The artist has to decide on a colour scheme before starting to print. There is no ‘going back’.

Printing: The wood block is inked up evenly using a roller; only the raised areas are coated.  The type of press used determines exactly how the print is made i.e., whether the block is placed face down on the paper before pressure is applied or face up on the press and the paper rolled over it. The use of too much ink or too much pressure will fill up the finer lines and result in loss of detail.

Further information can be found in Wikipedia under Woodcut and Woodblock printing.