How to Convert a Picture to Woodcut

Written by joshua dyson
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How to Convert a Picture to Woodcut
A portrait is an excellent subject to make into a woodcut print. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Make your picture into a woodcut print. It takes some printmaking tools and tracing paper to transfer your image to a wood block. The image is fully traced onto the board, simplified into areas of black and white. You then cut away the white, or non-printing areas, with printmaking knives. Apply ink with a brayer over the finished woodcut and then place the wood block onto paper to produce an impression.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Printmaking knives
  • Wood block
  • Paper
  • Printmaking ink
  • Brayer
  • 2B pencil
  • Tracing paper

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Get a print of your photograph that you can trace over. Lay tracing paper on top. Basic woodcuts only have two areas which are either positive or negative. Define these areas by tracing the image normally first. Thicken the outlines of the subjects with a 2B pencil after. The positive areas are the lines you drew, and the negative areas are the spaces. Thick lines are important since they have to be wide enough to hold ink.

  2. 2

    Lay out your wood block. Flip your tracing over and rub the lead of the 2B pencil onto the wood block. Turn your pencil on its side and do a back and forth motion until the whole backside of the tracing has been covered. The soft 2B lead on the front will rub off onto the block so you can see your image for cutting.

  3. 3

    Cut out the spaces around your lines with your printmaking knives. The spaces are the negative areas that will not print. Leave the lines behind so that they will be able to hold ink. Continue cutting out the negative areas.

  4. 4

    Spread some water soluble block printing ink on some scratch paper. Roll a brayer over the ink, either in a forward or backward motion, until it is completely covered. Do not roll the brayer back and forth, since this will prevent ink from getting on the whole surface of the brayer.

  5. 5

    Roll your inked brayer over the woodcut a few times, until all positive areas are coated.

  6. 6

    Lay a sheet of paper on top of the wood block. Hold it down with one hand while applying pressure onto it with another brayer. Lift the paper to reveal a woodcut print of your photo.

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