Block printing is an age-old skill, requiring knowledge of techniques, materials, and tools. Books can aid in the artistic journey, whether you are a beginner just starting to hone your skill or a seasoned professional looking to expand your artistic repertoire or find new design inspiration. No matter where you are in your practice, if you want to learn more about the art of block printing, check out our recommendations below.
1. House of Print: A Modern Block Printer’s Journey Through Color, Texture, and Pattern
It’s always a bonus when an instructional art book is more than just a step-by-step guide. We love it when a story is woven throughout, conveying more of an understanding of the artistic medium than other guides might pass along. That’s what makes this book such a great option for those interested in block printing. The author outlines not only the process but also the tale of how she mastered the ancient craft, which she has adapted into a contemporary style. There is history, personal anecdotes, and—yes—invaluable how-to instruction.
2. Learning Linocut: A Comprehensive Guide to the Art of Relief Printing Through Linocut
If you want to learn how to linocut, which is the art of block printing using linoleum sheets, this book is a great resource. Aimed at beginners, it is a comprehensive guide to everything from inspiration to execution. The book also covers more complex skills that might pique the interest of those who have been block printing for years already. All of the techniques are illustrated with vivid color photographs. Additionally, for each skill, there is a list of all the materials and tools you’ll need, ensuring that you’ll be ready to go before you put knife to linoleum.
3. Making Japanese Woodblock Prints
One of the earliest expressions of the printing arts came in the form of woodblock printing in China, as far back as the eighth century. This book takes up woodblock printing from design drawing to finished prints and then offers more advanced instruction in printing and carving techniques, with detailed directions and more than 200 color photos. What sets it apart from other books, though, is how it goes well beyond the physical creation of prints, helping you develop your sketches and other artistic renderings in order to translate them into woodblock prints.
4. Block Printing: Techniques for Linoleum and Wood
If you have some experience and want a guide that will expand your skills, this book is a great pick. Instead of focusing on just one type of block printing, you get two. Though it starts off with the basics of cutting and transfer, the book goes on to explain how to use a wide range of paints and colors to achieve a more professional-looking final product.
5. Block Print Magic: The Essential Guide to Designing, Carving, and Taking Your Artwork Further with Relief Printing
One of the clearest step-by-step block printing guides is this one, making it an ideal choice for beginners in the medium. Aided by illustrated instructions, the language used is simple and easy to follow, allowing those who have never tried their hand at printmaking to learn on their own. Beyond the basics, this guide also includes some more-advanced carving techniques, including texturing, crosshatching, and three-dimensional shading.