When we were first told in class to produce a reduction linocut I was terrified because of the risk involved. One mistake and the entire plate (and capital invested in printing paper) is jeopardised. An accidental cut can be difficult to salvage, but I have found that a small mistake can be fixed by filling the reduction with superglue.
Before engaging with a reduction print, you need to consider how big the edition will be. This can influence what paper type you use and ultimately, the cost of the paper. For this print, I used Smooth Canson 300gsm printing paper and a Silk Cut 30x30cm Lino plate.
I'd recommend devising a colour coded reference picture of what zones your image will have. I used a photo reference of my dog, so that ahead of time, I would know which section would need to be cut when and where.
Below are the colour proofs of each inked layer, so you can see how the plate was reduced. Proof prints are important in printmaking and are used to check: press pressure, ink distribution and plate faults, so that your final prints on potentially expensive paper aren't ruined accidentally.
Also, keep in mind that as the colours layer, they can influence each other. For example, if you choose to use a red-based initial colour, do not print on top with a blue-based colour as it can muddy the image. Make sure each ink chosen has the same base colour.
Layer 1: Yellow.
After sketching the outline of my design, I cut away what I wanted to remain white (since I was using white paper). What ever I did not cut was inked in yellow and printed. I chose this colour because my dog has gold markings.
Layer 2: Orange.
Now I have cut away whatever I wanted to remain yellow. In this case, it was the background and highlights in my dog's markings.
Layer 3: Black.
My dog has a primarily black coat, so I wanted to print this tone last. It is largely for outline purposes.
The reason I have placed these proofs below is to allow comparison. I experimented with different paper types to record the proof, each showing various degree of detail.
This proof was made on cheaper 300gsm printing paper than the editions prints. It shows some detail, but not every minute cut like the print below.
The lower print was made on tissue wrapping paper from an arts equipment supplier, and shows far more detail than the above print. This paper is very thin at less than 80gsm (the weight of standard printer paper).
I would put this difference in image retention to pressure. Because the top image is printed on thicker paper, the press would have pushed it further into the shallow cuts of the plate, thus reducing the image quality. The thinner paper, under less pressure (but enough to maintain plate contact) retained detail because I wasn't forced into the shallower cuts.
As a student, I find it educational to study the plates of printmakers because they show the working process. The plates remember the ways they were cut.
For example, here I have used a hatched method on the background for smoothing, to stop texture reprinting in later proofs.
The final image can be seen on my website: denlscheer.weebly.com
More work in progress (WIP) images can be found on my Instagram or Twitter: DenLScheer