Reduction Print- Printmaking Series 3

I was so excited to introduce my students to reduction printing!

So much problem solving!  And reduction printing is a medium very different than anything most of them have seen before.

If you’re curious about what reduction printing is here’s a video that will help explain our process and all the work that these kids did.

An animal protrait is a great subject because the texture is conducive to the textured quality of linoleum carving.

They started off by making a color coded template the size of their linoleum block.  This step is so important because most the thinking for this project happens here.  They had to plan out where each of the colors would go without shading and considering what kinds of details they could add through carving.

reduction print template

Once they transferred the image to their linoleum block they used a sharpie to color in only the black areas.

Because this is such an in-depth process clearly marking the black areas helps them see the design.  ****To anyone who tries this themselves… The sharpie will transfer at first, especially with the light colors but because we are only coloring the areas that will eventually be black, it’s no problem.  I personally think the value it adds to the understanding of the process is worth a bit of transfer that won’t be seen in the final piece.

reduction print block prep

Students kept their templates handy as they carved out the first layer, everything that will be white.  We used bench hooks to keep the process safer.  Always carve away from the body and keep the other hand behind the blade.

Carving the first layer

They put ink on their inking plate and started printing their first colors.

printing first layer

Notice the registration board we used.  (The piece of cardboard that has a hole in it the size of the linoleum block and the blue tape as a reference for where to place the paper.) 

This board is super important in this process.  Students had to be diligent in their placement and use the same board because THIS is what will help them place the paper the exact same way through each color layer.


I learned something new when researching for this series.  Prints are signed with a very sharp pencil because pencil is harder to duplicate than pen.  Which offers protection against forgery.

So on the bottom left of their print they put the impression number over the total number in the edition.  1/6 for the first in an edition of six.  On the bottom right of their print they sign their name.

adding edition numbers

We needed lots of space for these to dry.  Here’s the first prints drying for one of my classes.

first layer

Once first prints were completed, they cleaned off their blocks and started carving out everything that would stay the color of the last color they printed.

second layer

And they were ready to continue with the next color.

inking second layer

Here’s an example of one after 2 colors have been printed.

second color

They continued until they had printed 2 colors and black.

Three total colors folks!

final prints

I have to say I work with some wonderful groups!  Small classes that range in age from 10 to 17.  They all took this project on with such determination and it shows.

For anyone wondering about time frame these were started and completed in roughly 3 hour and half classes but it was close.  I would allow more time if you could but also might want to have a mono print for those who finish early.  I’m happy to provide details if you would like them.

They did a great job with this concept and I love the ideas they came up with for their reduction prints!

reduction print

reduction print

reduction print

reduction print

reduction print

linoleum print

reduction print

reduction print

reduction print

reduction print


I absolutely love printmaking and introducing these groups to this medium was so much fun!


Welcome to my adventures in teaching Art outside of the public school system. I’ll share our projects and challenge myself and you to continually improve. So glad you stopped by!

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