25 Easy Design Ideas for Linoleum Block Printing Patterns

I finally finished a project I’ve been planning for a while - a print showing a variety of linocut pattern examples. It’s for students in my How to Linocut online class, who can download the print as a PDF. I came up with 25 black and white block printing patterns including grid, circle, line, dot, square and triangle designs.

The monochromatic lino print designs were carved in a block with U- and V-gouges and the photo below shows what I came up with.

Simple Lino Print Pattern Designs
Dealing with Ink in the Negative Space of a Linocut Design

One of the challenges when making a linocut is not getting ink in the negative space of your design - assuming you don’t want it there. The negative space is the carved away area of your linoleum block that you don’t want printed. For example, perhaps you want a nice, clean background to your linocut.

A number of students in my beginner’s linocut course have asked about this issue. There’re several ways to help solve this common problem.

First and foremost, run your fingertip in the cleared negative space (the space you don’t want printed) and feel for high spots. See if you can carve down a little more of the negative space with a “U” gouge, like in this video. Use the widest tool you have at your disposal. This helps with unwanted embossing of the paper, too.

Carving away the linoleum block’s negative space with a “U” gouge.

Carving away the linoleum block’s negative space with a “U” gouge.

Here are some other tips:

  • If I really want a pristine background, I will methodically wipe away any unwanted traces of ink with a rag or Q-tip (cotton swab) before printing.

  • Use the narrowest brayer possible to better control where the ink ends up.

  • You can block off the negative space with a small piece of paper, cardstock or tape while inking the rest of the lino block.

  • Take scraps of linoleum and run them along the side of your block when inking it up. This will help keep the brayer from dipping down into the low areas of your block.

  • Cut a basic stencil in the shape of your image out of a scrap piece of paper. Place your stencil over the block before inking. This will help keep ink off outside areas.

  • If you’re printing with a press, keep in mind that press blankets can push the paper into areas you don't want printed or embossed. I put a thin sheet of MDF wood on top of my paper before putting just one press blanket on top of that.

Online Reduction Printmaking Class

I’m excited to have a follow up to my How to Linocut online course for beginners, it’s an intermediate class all about reduction printmaking! In the class, I walk students through the step-by-step process of making a reduction linocut print. I also show how to make a registration jig. If you want a little background on this printmaking process, check out my reduction printing page.

Example Linocut Print from the  Reduction Printing Course

Example Linocut Print from the Reduction Printing Course

I’ve used the reduction printing technique for many years, making prints like this linocut called Solitude II. Here’s a short trailer for the course.

By the end of this class, through practice, you'll be on your way to creating your own reduction prints. Here’s a kind testimonial from a student in the course:

I really enjoyed this course. The presentation was clear, concise and well thought out. Thank you so much!
— Kathryn, How to Make a Reduction Print Student (2018)
Art Print Inspired by the Approach into SFO Airport

This is a one-of-a-kind print that combines several printmaking techniques, including linocut, trace monotype and stencil. It's part of a series of artworks depicting the final approach into San Francisco International Airport (SFO) as you fly over the Bay and the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge. The East Bay hills, including Mt. Diablo, are in the background.

Landing at SFO Airport

Landing at SFO Airport

The unframed print is on white paper measuring about 14" x 22" and comes numbered (1/1), titled ("Approach I") and is signed in pencil. It’s available in my shop.