Research Sketching-Costumes

My favorite part of doing any kind of historical or genre art is researching the appropriate costumes. In my magazine illustration days it didn’t come up much; mostly I was drawing doctors, nurses, businessmen and contemporary kids and grownups of all kinds. 

With subject matter like Dickens, costuming the characters not only correctly, but in a way that tells us about their personalities, is part of the job description!

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Miss Flite’s Birds

Miss Flite’s Birds

She partly drew aside the curtain of the long, low garret window and called our attention to a number of bird-cages hanging there, some containing several birds. There were larks, linnets, and goldfinches–I should think at least twenty.

“I began to keep the little creatures,” she said, “with an object that the wards will readily comprehend. With the intention of restoring them to liberty. When my judgment should be given. Ye-es! They die in prison, though. Their lives, poor silly things, are so short in comparison with Chancery proceedings that, one by one, the whole collection has died over and over again. I doubt, do you know, whether one of these, though they are all young, will live to be free! Ve-ry mortifying, is it not?”

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Ancient Japanese woodblock set

The final, 12-color print and one of the woodblocks from this incredible set.

As I’ve been exploring the world of hand-made printing techniques of various kinds, more and more I find myself looking at, investigating and writing about woodcuts. There’s a good reason for this, apparently!

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Chiaroscuro Woodcuts

As a rule I’ve stuck to just one-color linocuts mainly because my printing setup at the moment is fairly primitive. What I want to talk about here is going to be about woodcuts, but the same rules apply to linocuts and the process of pulling prints.

The main thing to solve when doing more than one color in a hand-pulled print, is getting the colors to line up. In any multi-color printing process, this is called “registration” and it applies to pretty much all color printing, whether it’s magazines, cereal boxes, or your inkjet printer. You know when you put a new ink cartridge in and you have to print out that one sample page? That’s so your printer can register the colors.

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Proofing with a rubbing

I haven’t seen this method of proofing on any other linocut websites (and there are quite a few!) but it may be because I’m always trying to squeeze more detail out of a fairly “coarse” medium.

This video goes into the process of proofing with a rubbing, in order to see what is actually cut. Since the process is to do a black line drawing on the lino, then cut away everything else, it’s often difficult to “see” the cut areas clearly as work progresses. The rubbing reveals all this easily.

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Why Linoleum?

There are a few materials that have been traditionally used for coating with ink and pulling prints by hand. The most common, linoleum and wood, have no intrinsic quality that makes them suitable for inking and pressing paper onto to make a print. Any flat surface will do, in fact there are many other mediums (steel plates, copper, even potatoes!) that are used one way or another for making prints.

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