Producing reduction lino prints involves cutting and inking several layers from 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.

Reduction Lino Printing tips for beginners


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 and 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.


cutting lino block

Put your lino block onto a non-slip surface and start to cut. Scary! Not really. Relax and work out which areas that will stay white (or the colour of your paper). All the areas of lino that remain uncut will be inked and printed. The first inking is of the lightest colour and the second cut removes any areas that will remain this lightest colour. Each layer becomes progressively darker.

Cut out the parts of your design that are to remain white. Clear away all your lino shavings from your work surface and the lino. You’re ready to ink your block.


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.


onion reduction print 1st layeronion reduction print 1st layer

Place your inked lino in the pencilled area of your registration sheet. Lay the printing paper on top of the lino making sure that the corners of the printing paper and registration paper match up. Put a small arrow on the back of each sheet of paper so that you lay it down the right way up on subsequent prints.

Use a baren (or a dry roller or wooden spoon) to firmly press across the surface of your paper. Lift a corner to check that you’ve covered the whole print. Alternatively, use a printing press.

Pull the paper off to reveal your print, revel in its success and then re-ink your lino block and make as many prints as you need. Leave the prints to dry.

When you’ve printed Colour 1 (light brown in the print above), clean your lino and leave it to dry. With luck, your drawn design will still be visible on the lino, but if not, just retrace your original. Next, cut out any areas that you want to remain Colour 1.

reduction lino onions inked

Ink your lino with Colour 2 (purple above).

onions reduction lino print 2nd layer

Take a test print on a spare piece of paper to make sure you’ve cut correctly and then print on top of Colour 1, remembering to line up your paper on your registration sheet. You can see above that the purple has overprinted the light brown. Take all your prints and leave to dry.

onions reduction lino print 3rd layer

Clean your lino, leave to dry and cut then out any areas that you want to remain Colour 2. The uncut areas will be Colour 3. In the print above this meant that the only uncut lino was the black outline and frame. Test print and then print over Colours 1 and 2.

Congratulations! You now have a three colour print.

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reduction lino printing for beginners