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Multi-Color Linoleum Printmaking Techniques: Editorial Illustration

0:20 Linoleum Block Printmaking
0:40 Choosing an Article: Headlines
1:33 Brainstorming: key words
3:28 Mind Map: word association
5:02 Visual References: avoiding cliches
7:47 Thumbnail Sketches: format
8:43 Composing thumbnail sketches
12:54 Tracing paper, cropping
14:55 Relief vs. Intaglio printmaking
15:38 Mounted vs. Unmounted linoleum

16:36 Preparing the block
19:38 Sketch to Block
20:44 Heating the block with an iron
21:42 Bench hook, linoleum cutter
23:08 Carving: blade sizes, grip
25:50 Elimination block techniques
29:49 Carving techniques: effects
30:24 Tearing Paper: torn vs. cut paper
31:07 Proofing with a graphite stick
34:27 Rolling: pressure & speed of breyer

36:50 Hand-printing, registration
37:20 Printing: hands, breyer, baren
39:01 Pulling the print
40:04 Inking
41:22 Construction vs. rice paper
43:16 Elimination prints: multiple colors
46:03 Registration: marking corners
46:58 Yellow Ink: Ink viscosity, editions
50:20 Mixing colors: color gradients,
54:42 Black Ink: Registration risks
55:30 Artist’s Proofs, editions

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Anjali Shankar

Anjali Shankar
Assistant Editor, Production Assistant


Create an editorial illustration for an article from the Opinion section of the New York Times using the linoleum block printmaking technique.

Core Ideas

shape, brainstorming, thumbnail sketches, color, composition

Recommended Tutorials


Art Prof Caution

Linoleum cutters are extremely sharp and it’s very easy to cut yourself by accident! Always place your hand which is not holding the linoleum cutter behind your hand to prevent cuts. Use a bench hook to keep the block from moving around as you cut.

Art Supplies: Tracing Paper
Art Supplies: Bench Hook for Printmaking
Art Supplies: Rice Paper
Art Supplies: Plexiglass
Art Supplies: Cotton Rag
Art Supplies: Akua Water-based Intaglio Ink
Art Supplies: Sharpie Marker
Art Supplies: Graphite Stick
Art Prof, Art Supply Encyclopedia: T-Square
Art Supplies: Plastic Scraper
Art Supplies: Linoleum Cutter
Art Supplies: Palette Knife
Art Supplies: Mounted Linoleum Block
Costs more, but worth it because it won’t warp.
Art Supplies: Unmounted Linoleum Block
When wet unmounted linoleum warps a lot and is hard to print.
Art Supplies: Large Breyer for Printmaking
Art Supplies: Small Breyer for Printmaking

The Real Problem with Lunch

By Bettina Aelias Siegel
Jan. 15, 2016, The New York Times

“Houston — THERE’S something about comparing America’s school food to the superior meals in other countries’ schools that we seem to enjoy, in a masochistic sort of way…”

Artwork by Sina Seri

Depraved Indifference Toward Flint

By the Editorial Board
Jan. 22, 2016, The New York Times

“The 274 pages of emails released under pressure on Wednesday by Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan show a cynical and callous indifference to the plight of the mostly black, poverty-stricken residents of Flint, who have gone for more than a year with poisoned tap water that is unsafe to drink or bathe in…”

Artwork by Hannah Falvey

When Can Women Stop Trying to Look Perfect?

By Jennifer Weiner
Jan. 8, 2016, The New York Times

“As a lifelong devotee of fashion and tabloid magazines, I’ve read dozens of “Beautiful/Sexy at Any Age” features. You’ve probably seen these spreads, showcasing a bevy of lovely women whose faces, fashions, exercise routines and skin-care regimens are laid out to encourage imitation. For years, readers could stare at starlets and actresses and singers in their 20s, their 30s, their 40s and even edging bravely into their early 60s…”

Artwork by Sandra Mora

A Placebo Treatment for Pain

“The crisis of painkiller addiction is becoming increasingly personal: Sixteen percent of Americans know someone who has died from a prescription painkiller overdose, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey; 9 percent have seen a family member or close friend die…”

Artwork by Lee Moistoso

The Real Problem with Lunch

By Bettina Aelias Siegel
Jan. 15, 2016, The New York Times

“THERE’S something about comparing America’s school food to the superior meals in other countries’ schools that we seem to enjoy, in a masochistic sort of way…”

Artwork by Jessica Dough

Letter of Recommendation: Terro Liquid Ant Bait

“Have you ever had an anxiety attack? One of those full-blown panic freakouts: Your hands are tingling, your head is swimming, your skin is crawling and — my God — you want to run away, but you can’t, so you crumple wherever you are, even if that means at your desk, in front of your entire office…”

Artwork by Dorothy Windham

How Both Parties Lost the White Middle Class

“Long after the dust settles in Iowa — and New Hampshire, and even the 2016 campaign itself — one question will remain: Why, after decades of supporting the liberal and conservative establishments, did the white middle-class abandon them? Wherever Donald J. Trump and Bernie Sanders end up, their candidacies represent a major shift in American politics…”

Partial Video Transcript

Prof Lieu: “In this project, I asked students to go to the opinions page section of the New York Times. And they need to go and pick an article that interests them in some way, and I asked them to create an editorial illustration to accompany that article.

So it is an exercise in visual communication, that it’s another way to talk about the issues that are in the article. I pair that with linoleum block printmaking because one thing I noticed is that in the editorial section of the NY Times, the illustrations tend to be very bold, they’re really graphic, they’ve got bright colors. And to me linoleum block printmaking has all those qualities, just inherent to the materials. So I thought it was a really good pairing between the article and the technique.”

Anjali: “How did you pick your article?”

Prof Lieu: “Well I just scrolled through all of the articles, I skim all the headlines first, I don’t bother to read them in depth right away. But I look for headlines that I think have very concrete images. Because sometimes the headlines are really big and abstract. Like there was one article I saw a few months ago that was talking about contemporary beauty. And I thought, ok, that’s huge and really vague and I don’t know what I’m going to do with that visually.

Where as this article that I chose, it’s titled The Whispering Leaves of the Hiroshima Ginkgo Trees. The headline alone was packed with images. I mean I had even read the article yet and I knew that I wanted to do this because it felt so poetic. You have leaves, you have Hiroshima, you have Ginkgo trees. I liked the specificity of that headline so that’s why I ended up choosing that one.”

I always like to do a lot or prep work before I actually get the knife and start carving because the thing about linoleum block printmaking, it’s a really permanent material, it’s not like you have a giant eraser that can bail you out every single time, so, I think especially for this technique, you need to have an idea about what you’re doing.

But also I think just to consider how you want to communicate this idea, because an editorial illustration is so different than say, a fine art painting which doesn’t have to communicate something, but an editorial illustration, it’s in the newspaper, and it accompanies article so it’s important that the image really expresses the core essence that the article’s going to say.”

Anjali: “Usually my process as a painter is I have the prompt, and I have the article I read the article several times, and I spend a lot of time thinking about the article. Seeing what kind of images come from that, and then I’ll sketch out maybe two or three thumbnails. And then I just start painting.

Prof Lieu: “I look at the article and I just skim it for words that I think could have relevant imagery. I’m seeing ‘blinding light,’ immediately I see ‘atom bomb,’ and then I have ‘Hiroshima.’ And I try to get words that are really specific.

Like here it says ‘a baby crying.’ That’s much more specific than say apocalypse. Apocalypse is too general. I say ok, what words are absolutely critical for this article to be understood. So if you look at these words, which ones do you see as really really important.

Anjali: “Hiroshima, darkened air, The Ginkgo trees were a sign of hope, so definitely Ginkgo is very important.

Prof Lieu: “The article says that just a few days, even after the bomb, the sprouts were coming up from the Ginkgo trees. And that’s really part of the article that I was just fascinated by. I had no idea the Ginkgo tree was able to do that.

I’m going to take the words that we have. So we have ‘gingko,’ ‘crying baby,’ we have ‘Hiroshima,’ and we have ‘darkened air.’ I make a big circle around these four words, these are like my station points that I start with, and then I branch out from there. So let’s do this together. When you think of Ginkgo, what comes to your mind. Like, what are variations on the word Ginkgo.”

Anjali: “Definitely the shape of the leaf, and it’s a plant.”

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