A good piece of art always starts with an idea. Once that is established it's time to start pulling everything together to make a print. The first thing I have to do at this stage is to figure out the size and proportion of the image and how many colors and blocks I'm using. Once that is sorted I start sketching and retooling until I have the final drawing, colors and blocks mapped out. To help with this process I like to import my sketches into Photoshop and make a mock-up of all the layered blocks. The slide below is the same mock up I used for my Portland Head Light Print.
Playing with the image and layers in Photoshop allows me to really explore all my color options and gives me an idea of what the finished piece will look like. This mock up essentially becomes a blueprint for my print work ahead .
This is the final pen & ink drawing finalized made from all my first draft sketches
This is achieved by making a carbon copy of the original line drawing with graphite pencil and transferring onto a block. Whilst transferring the block I always make mental notes of how I’m going to carve. Sometimes I find better ways of designing at this stage that works better with carving so I like to refrain from carving any more blocks until after this one is finished and a test print is made.
So many things can change between in the process between transferring the original line drawing to the block and finally carving the block. When working on a project with multiple blocks I always wait to print my last line drawing first, then create all the other blocks from this. I’ve tried carving them all at once from the master blueprint, but inevitably something shifts and the registration goes all wonky. With my first line block cut I know exactly where to put my colors.
Here’s a jig I made from pieces of foam core. It’s important that all the blocks are lined up perfectly. If not then the print will be out of whack
Once the final proof for the black outline layer is complete I can go ahead and layout and carve all my subsequent blocks. For the Portland Head Light Print I ended up using a total of six blocks
I generally print with water-based inks on Stonehenge paper. I let each print dry for at least an hour between presses.