Wednesday 7 November 2018

'This Way' or 'How to create a multi-plate linocut'

This post shows the development of my new multi-plate linocut 'This Way', which I created for the Northern Collective exhibition in Keswick. The image is of a stone stile, small gate and footpath marker which I came across on a walk in the Elterwater area of the Lake District.

Why choose multi-plate over the reduction process? It's a fair question to ask and I do use both techniques, depending on the project and image. Both methods have their relative advantages and disadvantages.

For me the benefits of multi-plate are:
  • you can come back and explore different colour ways
  • you can make the most of overlap colours
  • you can use the plates again in other projects
  • if one plate goes wrong, you can re-do it!
Some useful tips...It's critical to plan your plates and use of tones, before you start! Also you need to transfer your image to each plate from the master image with care and accuracy. My master image was on tracing paper, as I reversed my sketch because I wanted to reflect the real place as closely as possible. I like to test the plates in a quick, often wet-on-wet prototype poof, just to check everything is fundamentally working, before playing with colours.

'This Way' is made up of four plates. In the prototype you can see how each one of the plates builds to create the image:

After colour 1 - rough proof

After colour 2 - rough proof

After colour 3 - rough proof

Final rough proof - with all 4 plates

This proof allowed me to adjust tones and make different decisions for the next stage of the development of the print. I wanted the colours to be more vibrant and was trying to create a sense of light and shade, as well as distance, in the linocut, so I tweaked the plates a little more, before printing the edition.

I printed the final edition of ten, at Hot Bed Press in Salford using Intaglio oil-based inks on the wonderful old Albion press.

The final colour is a deep grey / blue

'This Way' edition drying on the racks

A good example of the benefits of multi-plate can be seen in 'Halo' and 'Regenerating' - both linocuts use the same set of three plates, but the colour choices and different paper stock, transform them:

'Halo' multi-plate linocut

'Regenerating' multi-plate linocut

To see more of my work, please check out my website: where you will also find an online Shop with currently available work. Thanks!

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