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How to make a Linocut at Home | Beginners Printmaking

Linocut is a printmaking process which can create beautiful bold prints, with clean lines and clear shapes, and involves the joyful element of carvingAn extra bonus is that it can be tried at home, and there are handy starter kits available for Lino-newbies in most craft stores.

It’s a Relief printmaking process, meaning the ink gets applied to the uppermost surface areas of a plate

In Linocut, the "plate" is a Lino-tile, and areas of it are carved away - and whatever is left untouched is what gets inked up and printed from.

A few lino cut prints made at home, with the lino tile and a roller

It’s a methodical, intentional process, which can result in intricate and dynamic designs, and once a plate is carved it can be printed from again and again.  It’s super satisfying! 

In this blog, we'll be taking it step by step, looking at the materials needed for carving and printing, as well as transferring a design to a tile, taking your first carving steps and rolling ink. You'll soon be ready to dive right in!

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How to make a Linocut print...

The Carving Stage

Materials needed:

A photo of the tools required for Linocut
  • A carving tool.  It is common in starter kits to find carving tools which allow for swapping out the blades - they come with a handle and a selection of carving nibs. This is what I have and it works fine for me.  But you can also buy individual carving tools if you are diving that bit deeper into lino carving.

  • A surface to carve.  Pieces of Lino tile can be bought from craft stores, in all different sizes - but you can also easily cut lino tiles down to size using a craft knife too.

  • Optional extras...


An image of a hand, drawing on tracing paper with a pencil

If you are needing to transfer a pre-drawn design onto your lino tile, the tracing paper method works well...

  • Trace your drawing with a soft pencil

  • Once finished, turn your tracing paper over and position it on top of your lino tile (pencil-side-facing down)

  • Take a harder pencil and redraw back over the tracing. In doing so you will be pushing the soft graphite off of the paper and onto the tile.

This method is also handy because it automatically flips the design on the tile.  Of course, you can always draw directly onto the tile freestyle too!

It’s always handy to remember that the final Lino prints will be reverse images of the tile.

An image of a carving tool making a first cut

Now it's time to carve! The first cut is always the most nerve-wracking and it's normal to feel a little bit "Eeek!" as you make your first marks. Just take it slowly and always keep your fingers out of the way as much as possible.

  • Push down a little with the nib, to cut into the tile, and then push forwards with your nib - slowly, steadily.

  • Rather than trying to complete large curves in one motion, always stop and turn the tile regularly, so that you keep the pushing motion of the nib faced away from you.

  • Make sure you are working under a good source of light, so you can see exactly where you are carving.


Here’s an extra random tip - Lino tiles can be harder to carve when they are cold - so if you are finding it tricky, try warming up your tile every now and then through the process. Hold it in front of a fan heater, or pop it on a hot plate for a brief moment, and it should become a little more flexible. (Obviously if anything starts to burn, abort the idea!)


Carving, by the way, is hugely therapeutic.  I find it very relaxing.  It’s weird to say that about something that involves wielding a sharp tool, but I find the same thing with wood carving too.  I think the sharp tools actually force me into a specific type of focus; they ensure I can only concentrate on this moment, and so everything else falls away. It’s pretty nice.

A close up of a carving tool pushing through lino tile

There may be fast carvers who exist out there, but for me, slow is the name of the game with Linocut.  Why rush something like this?  Why not slowly bring something into existence, line by line and let the minutes drift?

The main point to remember as you carve is that whatever surface area you don’t touch is the area which will hold the ink later for printing.  Anything you carve away will create the white or empty areas on the print.

The Printing Stage

Materials needed:

A tray or shiny surface to roll ink on. 

A roller to roll ink with. 

Block printing ink.  I generally use *Essdee water-based ink because it is available and affordable for me, but there are various brands so seek out whatever is easiest to find in your local area.

Paper to print onto. Standard printer paper, around 100gsm, works well for experimenting and is an easy-to-source option.


Blob a little ink down and spread it into a line across the top of your rolling area with a piece of card. 

Placing the roller into the ink line, drag it towards you to start pulling out the ink into a patch.  Keep lifting the roller, letting it spin, placing it back down and rolling until the ink starts to even out.

a photo of a roller, rolling out ink in a tray

It takes a little practise to get the hang of how thick the rolled-out ink needs to be - but the best way to learn is to do, and if you try a print with ink that is too thick or thin, it's ok! You'll have gotten a sense of how much you used and can adjust it for the next print. The great thing about linocuts is that you can print from them again and again quite quickly, so just jump in a see what happens.

Roll the inky roller across the surface of the linocut until you feel you have covered it evenly. Again, it takes a bit of trial and error to know if you have covered it well - so embrace your experimental phase!

a photo of a roller, rolling ink onto a lino tile

Place a piece of paper on top of the Lino tile. It's time to apply pressure! I always start with my hands, pressing as firmly as I can with the broad flat of my palm, moving across the paper to ensure all areas of the tile get attention.  You can also experiment with pressing down using things like wooden spatulas or with a small flat piece of wood.

When you feel ready, it’s time for the surprise! Pinch a corner of your paper and peel it up and away from the tile, to reveal your print.

an image of a hand peeling up a lino print from the tile

The great thing about linocut is that if the print doesn’t come out the way you hoped - like how the first print (shown below) is a little light - you can immediately re-ink and press it again. You can try a bit more ink on the tile, or press it a little differently, and compare the results.  This second print here came out a lot darker and clearer, and I really like it!

Also, the added bonus of linocut is that, if you spot elements in your print which you think could be improved on carving-wise - for example, in my print I can see lots of line edges which are a bit messy - you can simply clean the ink off the tile and return to the carving stage.

an image of a carved lino tile and two prints taken from it


So that is Linocut in a nutshell - will you be trying it?  I hope you will because it is truly a satisfying process. 

If you are intrigued by printmaking at home and would like to explore other methods, check out my Skillshare classes, Youtube videos or other blog posts.

Thanks so much for reading,

Keep making happy,

Gemma 💛

a graphic showing Skillshare Classes by Gemma the Pen


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