Introduction to Woodblock Printing for Beginners

Woodblock printing is a traditional form of art that has been around for centuries, captivating audiences with its unique textures and intricate designs. Ideal for beginners and seasoned artists alike, this technique involves carving an image into a block of wood, applying ink to the carved surface, and then transferring the inked design onto paper or fabric. This guide provides a basic introduction to woodblock printing, covering the materials needed, the carving process, inking, and printing. By the end of this quick tutorial, you’ll be equipped to start creating your own woodblock prints.

Materials You’ll Need

  • Wood block: Soft woods like pine or linoleum blocks are ideal for beginners.
  • Carving tools: A basic set of gouges and a carving knife.
  • Printing ink: Water-based ink is recommended for beginners.
  • Brayer (roller): For evenly applying ink to your wood block.
  • Paper or fabric: To transfer your design onto.
  • Baren or spoon: For burnishing (rubbing) the paper/fabric onto the inked wood block.

Step-by-Step Guide to Woodblock Printing

1. Preparing Your Design

Start by sketching your design on paper. Keep in mind that your image will be mirrored when printed, so adjust your drawing accordingly if your design includes text or needs to be direction specific. Once satisfied, transfer your design to the wood block using graphite paper or by drawing directly on the block. Remember, the areas you carve out will not receive ink and will appear as the background in the final print.

2. Carving the Block

Using your carving tools, carefully carve out the negative spaces of your design (the areas you don’t want to ink). Start with larger areas and details, moving towards finer details. Remember to carve away from your body to avoid injury.

3. Inking the Block

Once your block is carved, squeeze a small amount of ink onto a smooth, non-absorbent surface. Use your brayer to roll out the ink until it’s evenly distributed across the roller. Then, roll the ink onto your wood block evenly, ensuring the design is fully covered.

4. Printing Your Design

Place your paper or fabric over the inked block. Using a baren or the back of a spoon, rub the back of your paper/fabric with even pressure to transfer the ink from the block to your material. Careful not to shift the paper/fabric to avoid smudging. Gently peel it back to reveal your print.

5. Cleaning and Caring for Your Materials

After printing, clean your block, brayer, and any other tools used with soapy water (if water-based ink) or appropriate solvent (if oil-based ink). Proper cleaning and care will extend the life of your materials.


Woodblock printing is a rewarding art form that allows for creative expression through a unique medium. With practice, you can graduate from simple designs to more complex works of art. This introduction to woodblock printing should serve as your springboard into the fascinating world of printmaking. Happy printing!






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *