Homeschool Art Class

Two Value Portraits with Linocut Printmaking

Printmaking is  the bomb when it comes to art processes.  There are SO many ways to do it that range from process art made with materials nabbed from the recycle bin to processes that require a lengthy list of expensive supplies and a highly skilled artist.  This linocut portrait falls somewhere in the middle.  Ya’ need a little “stuff” but the process and result are SO worth it!

Learn how to reduce a photo to two values using only free technology to create this awesome linocut portrait printmaking project!

The materials list is relatively short and the tech skills are SO manageable.  The finished project, thanks to our old friend technology, gives a bold, sophisticated look that tells another story.

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The goods…

I got everything for this project in one neat little kit.  This Speedball Printmaking kit includes everything for this project and dozens more.  The kit includes black ink, a brayer, a carving tool with three different sized blades, and carving material thick enough to be carved on both sides!  This is a process I didn’t get to experience till I got to high school but is so do-able at home with these materials!

Choosing a photo for your linocut…

This is an important one.  You want to choose a photo that has bold contrast.  I love a picture that shines with personality.  We aren’t looking for a Sears portrait today.

Top quality resolution isn’t a necessity here.  We will be manipulating color, contrast, and cropping so a cell phone pic will do just fine.

Meet my friend technology….

It wasn’t long ago that I shied away from technology of every sort.  But lately I’ve been digging finding new ways to use it in our homeschool and my bloggy life.

I’ve seen many a tutorial for reducing photo images to two or three values but most use expensive computer software that your average Joe just doesn’t have access to.  If you’re teaching art at home or with a minimal budget that kind of thing is out of reach.

Canva is a free design software accessible from any computer.  It’s intuitive, easy to learn, and did I mention free?  Access Canva here and set up a free account to get started.

Gettin’ your picture there…

Canva is an awesome free option that can be mastered by anyone, even me.  Take some time to play with it and see what it can do.  But for now here are step by step directions to take your picture from your phone to printmaking ready!

  1. Using the vertical menu on the left click “Create a design.”
  2. Choose U.S. letter size.
  3. Using the vertical menu to the left choose the green “Upload your own image” button.
  4. Drag your chosen image to the image workspace.
  5. Adjust size of your image to fill the space.

Reducing the number of values…

  1. Go filter and choose the “grayscale” filter.
  2. Click advanced options.
  3. Move both contrast and X process to 100.
  4. Click download to save the image to your device.
  5. Print your image in whatever size you choose.

Learn how to reduce a photo to two values using only free technology to create this awesome linocut portrait printmaking project!

Keep going…

Once you have printed out the edited version of your pic you’re ready to further reduce the values.  This part is less tech-y and pretty bare bones.

Tape a piece of tracing paper over your photo.  Trace each outline with a pencil.  Then use a Sharpie to color in dark areas, leaving light areas plain.  You will be carving away all the light areas.

Color the dark areas solidly to help identify areas to be carved away and  areas which are to remain during carving.

Learn how to reduce a photo to two values using only free technology to create this awesome linocut portrait printmaking project!

Transferring the image…

I did this old school.  On the back of your Sharpie drawing color with pencil; color solidly anywhere there is a line you will be tracing.

Flip Sharpie drawing over and tape to linocut carving materials.  Tracing all outlines will transfer some of the pencil lead to your linocut material.

All of this scribbling could be avoided with some graphite tracing paper.  You can use this stuff over and over; it lasts forever.  But, alas, I had none.  Don’t let that stop you!

Learn how to reduce a photo to two values using only free technology to create this awesome linocut portrait printmaking project!

Keep coloring….

Go ahead and fill in the black areas of your linoleum with your Black Sharpie.  Is it necessary?  Nope, not really.  But once you start carving it will help you keep straight which areas to carve away.  It can get a little crazy once the carving tool comes out.  And because coloring is therapy, right?

Carve it, baby…

Yay, the fun part is here!  Linocut carving is so smooth and easy with this new soft carving material.

That being said it is worth trying a small sample before digging into this portrait if you haven’t carved linoleum before.  We did this simple directional line carving first.  It is a good way to try out different carving knives and get into a groove.

Carve away all the uncolored portions of your image.  Ink that printing plate up and print away.  If you’re looking for a more detailed description of the inking/printing process see this intro to linocut printmaking here!

 

Learn how to reduce a photo to two values using only free technology to create this awesome linocut portrait printmaking project!

Paper matters….

We printed using only the black ink that came with our printmaking kit.  If you love the process and want to explore further there are amazing colored inks that open up even more possibilities!

Printing on colored paper or even on top of other artwork provides unlimited possibilities even using only one color of ink!  The above print is done on a background of tissue paper painting.  Check out that fun process here.

Learn how to reduce a photo to two values using only free technology to create this awesome linocut portrait printmaking project!

Share your inspired printmaking (linocut or otherwise,) questions or awesome ideas!  I wanna’ see them!

Who knew you do fabric pritning with plain old crayons?

Looking for more printmaking ideas?  Try fabric printing with plain old crayons and sandpaper!

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