Reduction Lino Printing Hints for Beginners – Part One




Reduction lino prints are made by cutting and inking several layers using a single lino block to create a multi-coloured print. The first colour is printed, then the block reduced by cutting away and the second colour printed on top of the first colour. The block is repeatedly cut and inked until you have your finished print and a piece of lino with large areas cut away.

Experienced printmakers can make intricately detailed prints but beginners can have just as much fun with a basic design and two or three colours.



If you’ve never tried reduction lino printing before, it’s best to start simple and use a small block of lino about 10cms square and three colours. Once you understand the principles and become more confident, you’ll soon progress to larger blocks with complex designs using more colours.



mayweed 2 reduction lino print

Choose three inks that range from light to dark. You’ll use the lightest colour first and the darkest last. In the example above the blue was printed first, then yellow, then light green and finally dark green.

Don’t forget that you’ll gain an extra colour from the colour of the paper, which will usually be white.



sketch for reduction lino print

Sketch your design onto a piece of paper and colour it in or label the areas for reference.

Transfer your design onto your piece of lino. Draw it freehand or use tracing or carbon paper to transfer the design.

Mark it accurately with a permanent pen so that you know which areas to cut. Some people like to shade in the areas that they are going to cut out, others shade in the areas that they’re going to leave. Best to stick to one method only!



Once you’ve made the second cut, there’s no going back to print the first colour as your lino block has been reduced, so work out how many prints you need before you start to print.

Allow for extra prints to cover mistakes or less than perfect prints! If you’re aiming for five good prints for this first exercise, make eight prints with the first colour in case you don’t register the subsequent prints properly or they don’t quite print as well as you’d like.

Cut all your paper to the same size, making sure you have enough for all your prints as well as a few pieces of newsprint or copy paper to use for practice prints.




Using a registration system will ensure each print is in the same place on your paper.

You may already have a preferred registration system for lino printing, in which case, use that. Otherwise, the simplest way to register your prints is to lay a piece of paper the same size as your printing paper on the table. Centre your lino block on it and trace around the lino. When you print, position your lino block inside this pencilled area (ink side up) and lay your printing paper on top of the lino block, matching the corners of the printing paper exactly with the backing paper.



You’ll need:

  • Lino cutting tools
  • Printing Ink
  • Roller
  • Glass sheet (or whatever surface you roll your ink on)
  • Baren (or wooden spoon or printing press)

Make sure you have somewhere clean to lay down or hang your prints to dry.

There are some helpful tips about setting up a printing space at home HERE.



Now you’re all set to start cutting and printing, let’s move to Part 2.



You might also be interested in:

Setting up a Home Printmaking Studio Space

Learn how to make Monoprints using a Jelly Plate

Printmaking Inspiration: Spring

Find a printmaking class HERE

Reduction Lino Prints tips for beginners