5 Essential Steps for Beginner Linocut Printing
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Gather Your Linocut Printing Materials
  2. Create Your Design
  3. Transfer Your Design to the Linoleum
  4. Carve Your Design
  5. Print Your Design

Diving into the world of linocut printing can be an exciting journey. This traditional technique of printmaking offers endless opportunities to express your creativity. Whether you're an artist exploring new mediums or a DIY enthusiast looking for a fun new project, learning how to linocut print can be a rewarding experience. In this straightforward, easy-to-understand guide, we'll walk through the five basic steps of linocut printing.

Gather Your Linocut Printing Materials

Before you can start your linocut printing journey, you'll need to gather a few key materials. Don't worry, this isn't some lengthy shopping list. Just a few basics to get you started.


At the heart of linocut printing is, of course, linoleum. It's a durable material that's great for carving, and it's where your design will come to life. You can find linoleum in a variety of sizes at a local craft store or online.

Carving Tools

Next, you'll need some carving tools. These come in a range of shapes and sizes, each designed for different carving tasks. A basic set usually includes a few different sizes of U and V gouges, which are perfect for beginners.


You can't print without ink! For linocut printing, you'll want to use block printing ink. It's thicker than other inks and works well with the linoleum. You can choose from a range of colors to suit your design.


The brayer, a small handheld roller, is used to apply ink to your carved linoleum. You'll want one that's slightly wider than your linocut to ensure even ink coverage.


Last but not least, you'll need paper. Any paper can technically work, but printmaking paper is typically thicker and absorbs ink better. Plus, it'll give your prints a more professional look.

Now that you've gathered your linocut printing materials, you're ready to begin. Next, we'll cover how to create your design. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don't be afraid to experiment and have fun with it!

Create Your Design

Now that you have your materials, it's time to let your imagination fly and create your design. This is where the magic of linocut printing truly shines — transforming your unique ideas into tangible prints.

Sketch Your Ideas

Start by sketching your ideas on a piece of paper. This doesn't have to be a masterpiece, just a rough visual representation of what you want your final print to look like. Feel free to play around with different shapes, patterns, or even text. Your sketch will serve as a blueprint for your linocut print.

Consider the Negative Space

When designing for linocut printing, it's important to remember that the areas you carve away will become the negative space, or the uninked areas, in your final print. This can be a tricky concept to grasp at first, but once you get the hang of it, it can open up a whole new world of design possibilities. So, as you draft your design, consider how the interplay between carved and uncarved areas will impact your final print.

Simplify Your Design

As a beginner, it's wise to start with a simple design. Complex designs with lots of fine details can be challenging to carve and may not print as clearly. A simple design will not only be easier to carve but will also help you learn the basics of how to linocut print. Once you've mastered the basics, you can gradually start experimenting with more complex designs.

Designing for linocut printing can be a process of trial and error, and that's part of the beauty of it. So, don't be discouraged if your first few designs don't turn out exactly as you envisioned. With each attempt, you'll learn something new and improve your skills. The important thing is to enjoy the process and have fun with it.

Transfer Your Design to the Linoleum

Once you're content with your design, it's time to transfer it to the linoleum. This is a key step in the linocut printing process, so let's break it down.

Prepare the Linoleum

First, you'll want to prep your linoleum. This might involve cutting it down to the size of your design if it isn't already. You'll then want to lightly sand the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper. This helps to create a slightly rough texture that will hold your design transfer better.

Transfer the Design

Next, you'll transfer your design onto the linoleum. One common method is to use a pencil to heavily shade the back of your design then place it face down on the linoleum and trace over it with a ballpoint pen. The pressure will push the pencil lead onto the linoleum, leaving a mirror image of your design. Remember, everything you carve away will be uninked, so think about how this reversal will impact your final print.

Double-Check Your Work

Once you've transferred your design, take a moment to double-check your work. Is everything where you want it to be? Is there anything you want to change or adjust? This is your last chance to make changes before you start carving, so it's worth taking the time to ensure everything is just right.

Transferring your design to the linoleum is a crucial step in learning how to linocut print. It takes a steady hand and a bit of patience, but the reward is seeing your design start to come to life in a whole new way.

Carve Your Design

Now that your design is transferred onto the linoleum, you're ready to start carving. This is where your vision starts to come alive in three dimensions. Let's see how to linocut print by carving your design effectively.

Pick the Right Tool

The first step is to pick the right tool for the job. There are various carving tools available, each with its own strengths and uses. For example, a V-shaped gouge will help you carve fine lines, while a U-shaped gouge is great for removing larger areas. Remember, you're not just carving lines, but also creating textures and depths, so choose a tool that suits your design.

Start Carving

When you start carving, it's important to carve away from your body to avoid any accidents. Hold the carving tool firmly and apply even pressure as you carve. Take your time, and remember - it's easier to carve more away later than to replace linoleum you've already removed.

Test Prints

Once you've done a fair bit of carving, it's a good idea to make a test print. This is just a quick print to see how your design looks so far. It can help you identify areas that need more carving or places where you might want to make changes.

Carving your design is a fundamental aspect of how to linocut print. It's a process that requires patience and precision, but with a bit of practice, you'll be carving beautiful designs in no time.

At last, the moment you've been waiting for — printing your design. This step is where the magic happens, and you finally get to see your creation in print. Let's jump into how to linocut print your carved design.

Choose Your Ink

The choice of ink can make a significant difference in your final print. Oil-based inks tend to be richer and longer-lasting, but they can be a bit tricky to work with for beginners. Water-based inks, on the other hand, dry faster and are easier to clean up. It's your call!

Apply Ink to the Linoleum Block

Using a brayer, roll out your ink on a smooth surface until it has an even texture. Then, roll the ink onto your linoleum block, making sure to cover your entire design. A thin, even layer will do the trick; too much ink can blur your design.

Press and Print

Place your paper on top of your inked block, and apply pressure. You can use a clean brayer, a barren, or even the back of a spoon to do this. Be sure to apply pressure evenly across the entire design to ensure a clear print. Once you've done this, carefully peel back the paper to reveal your print.

And voila! You’ve learned how to linocut print. It might take a few tries to get it perfect, but don't be discouraged. Every print you make is a step closer to mastering this art form. Happy printing!

If you're excited to take your linocut printing skills to the next level, consider exploring the workshop 'Digitising Handmade Illustrations' by Jola Pictures. This workshop will teach you how to bring your linocut prints into the digital realm, allowing you to enhance and share your artwork with ease.