Your First Print : Support Forum

Design of a printing
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Author:  Franz Rogar [ Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Design of a printing


I want to talk about the "design" process, which is ofter untold about. Obviously, each author/creator has his/her own design and own style, but that doesn't mean we all share same (or very similar) methods/ways to achieve the same goal (create a print).

The process could be splitted in some basic steps:
a) Selecting the theme/motif
b) Drawing the design
c) Color-separation
d) Creating hanshita
e) Creating kyogos

Of course, each of them can be splitted again and again, but I think each block has enough related information in itself.

a) Selecting the theme/motif
Usually, you pick a theme and create a draft. I started with "usually" because my first print was the other way around: I started designing something easy and ending converting it to a full print to test different techniques. You can see the evolution in this blog entry of my site:

OK, after spamming a bit the forum, back on topic.

b) Drawing the design
Now, with a draft of the motif, you draw the design. Depending on the technique, it may be just B&W lines or (explained in the following section) full-colored picture.

In any case, nowadays, it's probably it will end up passing through a computer. There, you can clean/change lines without needing to re-draw the whole desing. I strongly suggest you to use it for time-saving.

My desings are a mix of all of them: I start with a pencil draft, a quickdrawing with ballpen, vectorize the design in computer, and hand-draw it with a natural hair chinese brush, to mimic the width changes of the classic mokuhanga (ukiyo-e, shin hanga, etc.)

c) Color-separation
Of course, when you make a sumi-e drawing, or any other color technique (oleum, etc.) you will have to "substract" the refill color to end with just the core of the design.

It may be just one color (typically black) or two ("Fox Moon" by Jared and carved by David Bull) or many others. Keep in mind each color means a keyblock and having more than one just make registration a hell.

Any way, it's always a good idea to have a colored version of the design because it will guide you in the kyogos creation and, also, it will help you to think about the hanshita: do those lines need to be so near? do I really need to much empty space in that place?


d) Creating hanshita don't really want to realize after starting (or worst finished) carving a block and think that they'll be too much sky in the desing.

For the hanshita creation, I mostly follow David Bull's method: back a think paper with a normal paper using 3M 75 spray repositionable glue. The main difference is that I'm not using any thin japanese paper but a scholar grade sumi-e paper.

That paper has a nasty problem while on sumi-e technique which helps a lot to mokuhanga one: the ink goes through it all. So, when you print the hanshita on it, you'll almost see it perfectly after gluying it to the woodblock.

That means I don't have to remove paper at all. And if by some strange problem I have, just with slightly moisted finger will make the white paper fibers completely transparent.

e) Creating kyogos
Of course, if you made color separations before, creating the kyogos is just a straight work. Straight in the meaning you know beforehand what techniques are you going to apply there so you can cut the blocks according to it.

For example: if you have a mountain and you chosed to make a bokashi (shading) from the top to bottom, you probably want to avoid cleaning downparts of the block as they *might* come in handy if you want to spread the bokashi down the design. That means it lets you change partially the initial design to make variations without needing to recut the block.

And I guess that's all about design (as quick and basic idea). I hope you like it.


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