A woodcut and wood engraving prints are
made by carving an image into a block of wood. The inked parts
of the woodcut and wood engraving are the top surface of the wood rather
than the recesses as seen in the intaglio
print process. The cut away areas on the block translate into the
un-inked portion of the print. Woodcuts and
wood engravings are not intaglio prints, they are relief prints.
The ink is rolled onto the top-most surface.
photo thanks to Living prints
Here we see areas being cut away from a block using a small
version of a slipstriker tool. These cut away areas will be the blank
space around the lines that will be printed. The black lines you
see are the drawing on the block which cover the area of the block that
will be printed from.
Woodcuts are made on the long-grained surface of wood, parallel
to the grain of the wood. Woodcuts are cut with knives or a graver.
Making blocks from the long grain side however had its drawbacks.
A large problem was that the wood would splinter, especially in areas with
thin lines. That is why wood engraving was developed.
The carving of a wood engraving is done
on the end grain. It is not actually an engraving, it is a relief
print like woodcut printing. In a tree, layers of wood are added
to it's wood every year that create rings in the wood (growth rings).
These rings are what we have come to call the 'grain' of the wood.
The outside of each ring is denser than the area between. Also, the
hollow wood cells are arranged vertically in the tree. In effect,
it is harder to carve intricate designs along the grain because the block
often splinters and it influences the direction of the cut. Using
the end grain reduces those problems significantly. Using the end
grain also provides a better inking surface.
There are various tools used to
carve the image, but they are all chisel like. It is their different
shapes and sizes that allow the artist to remove different amounts of material
with each stroke and to make different types of incisions. Some tools
can carve out the thin spaces between close lines, others are better suited
for removing large spaces, and some are better suited for straight or curved
The tint tools are used to cut
the narrow spaces between close parallel
The slipstriker is used for
cutting away the areas around 'normal' straight or
curved lines, and sometimes stippling .
The lozenge gravers are used
for cutting lines of various widths, the deeper
the cut, the wider the incision.
The scorper is used for straight
lines and clearing out large areas of white.
are a form of wood block prints.
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