Harbourne River - South Dartmoor

Publication date: 26 April 2020

Here's a stage-by-stage walkthough of the production of my 'Harbourne River - South Devon' - a limited edition lino relief print which is now available in my shop - click here if you'd like to buy one!

You can click on all the images below to see a more detailed version.

The picture above is the finished print... here's how it came to be...
I'm showing these stages in their logical order, but I tend to go about the process less logically, in that I usually begin cutting the final block of lino first because I want to see how that main image is going to look before I waste too much time on the background blocks, and because I use a copy of the final image for registering the preceeding (background) prints.

To clarify, a 'block' is a single piece of lino that is used to print one colour. Each block is cut to leave the surface for whatever colour layer it has to carry. Three blocks were cut in the making of this print.

Also worth noting is that I tend not to use the 'reduction print' method - which involves working with a single block that has elements cut away after the printing of each colour (where you begin with the lightest colour - usually the background).

The image above involved very little cutting - just enough to protect the white water-froth elements at the bottom. I made a 'grade' (an ink graduation from one colour to another - in this case, I faded from white to a blue-green). This is the image furthest in the background - my idea was to have the sky reflected on the water.
The image above shows the cutting of the second block which will be used for printing the greens.

I wanted to have an olive-green moss colour for the main tree trunks and a more yellow-green for the leaves growing in the undergrowth and at the edges of the river.

As with the sky/water block above, the greens were printed as a grade.
Another image of the second 'greens' block.

Although the final print is predominantly black, I knew that anything I printed in green, that would be over-printed with black, would show through - the over-printed green makes the black denser. by using this method I've been able to add more detail to the image.
Some parts of the 'green' block have been cut quite finely - the above is a detail of the leaves floating in the water.
Here is the second print of the green hanging up to dry - you can see the earlier 'blues' layer behind the greens.

Registration (the alignment of the colours at each printing stage) for this print was a bit of a challenge. It's not unusual for the paper to be 'squashed' as it goes through my etching press (this is not a problem if you print using a press or technique that involves applying top-down pressure). The squashing sometimes causes the registration tabs to disconnect from each sheet of paper. It's not safe to re-attach these by eye - if you're only a couple of milimeters out the registration can be ruined. I realised (for the first time - it can take a while to learn these things...) that I needed to re-apply the registration tabs to each sheet of paper after each print run (so about 40 times in total for this print). I worked out an elaborate method of measuring which, combined with the use of a master print on tracing paper, resulted in pretty good final registration - it slowed the process a lot though. This problem is less of an issue if your prints are smaller.
Here is an image of the final block in the process of cutting.

My prints are often developed from the photographs I take. I manipulate the photos extensively using Photoshop - they are often collaged images created from various photos and hand-drawn elements. I use an ink-tranfer method to get the image I want to cut onto the surface of the lino. It's a method I keep refining so I can achieve a cut that contains a high level of detail. Needless to say, this is a very pain-staking and time-consuming approach!
Here is the final block still on the press after printing the black layer. This is the block cleaned after printing. Not the copius amounts of masking tape... one of my most essential materials...
This is a print I made from that final block - this is on tracing paper for use with registration.

At the top of this story I mentioned that I don't work in a 'logical' order - here is one reason why - I cut the final block first, then I pull a few proofs to check it - at the same time, I print a copy onto tracing paper for checking alignments as I go through all the subsequent print stages.
Here are a few of the final prints handing up to dry. If you click and enlarge this picture you can see the effect of the 'two-tone' tree trunks.

And, yes, I hang my prints on a home-made indoor washing link using brightly-coloured bulldog clips... proper drying racks a scarily expensive!
Here's a close-up to show those 'ghost' trees - click the picture - the enlarged image is quite revealing
And here's the final print again, to save you having to scroll back to the top of this page!

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