Learning Target: 
Students will be able to Illustrate a Story, Myth, Fable or Poem

Performance Of Understanding: 
Complete a 3-Color Relief Block Print

Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse had a passion for books. They illustrated many books with their graphic art and created some of the most significant illustrated books (today some people call them artist’s books) of the 20th century. Jazz, Matisse’s illustrated book of collage work, is one of the most famous books of all time. Picasso, Andy Warhol and Marc Chagall also illustrated some children’s books, including Little Red Hen

(Click for images of Illustration and Symbolism in Printmaking)

Relief block printing has been around for hundreds of years, used by many cultures as a way of creating multiples.  It is called “relief” printing because one carves an image into a surface gouging down into the material.  What is not carved away remains as a raised relief.  It is this surface that accepts the ink to be printed on to paper. 

Picasso is said to have invented the technique in the 1950s as a way of safe-guarding his editions. Because of the labor-intensive process it requires equal amounts of technical skill and foresight, as well as tremendous patience.




1. Choose a fictional story, myth, fable or poem to illustrate
2. Include the title and author of the work you are illustrating on ALL work
3. Draw 4-6 thumbnail sketches & enlarge the best one onto 6” x 8” paper
4. Plan your colors onto your 6” x 8” final illustration
5. Your plan MUST include 3 colors.
6. Use a single sheet of tracing paper per color and trace each color separately.
*This will create what is known as a separation overlay
7. Label each color separation plan with it’s corresponding color and indicate the order in which you plan to print each color.
(Remember: print lightest to darkest!)


1. Trace your illustration onto tracing paper with ebony pencil
2. Flip your illustration onto linoleum graphite side down, tape securely in place and retrace the illustration with ebony pencil
*This is known as poor man's carbon copy
3. Use black sharpie marker to retrace the transferred image onto the linoleum block to prevent smudging while carving.


1. Keep your hands behind the blade at ALL TIMES
2. Let the bench-hook hold the block by pressing it into the back of the bench-hook
*Keep your hands behind the linoleum block away from the blade.
3. Turn the Linoleum block away from yourself.
4. First carve away those areas of the image you want to be the white of the paper as indicated by your color separation plans.
5. Start with a #1 (the smallest) cutter to outline the area you are cutting
6. After the areas have been outlined begin shaping the area with a #2 blade
7. Depending on the size of the area and the amount of texture desired, larger blades can be used to remove any excess linoleum



1. Sign your paper in the lower right corner of every print
2. Title your paper in the bottom middle of every print
3.  Indicate the edition of every print in the lower left corner of every print.
Note: Edition Numbers are fractions - the denominator (bottom number)indicates edition size, while the numerator (top number) indicates the particular impression of the edition.

Ex: If Joe Prints 6 Prints his edition size is 6, the impression of each print will be sequential ranging from 1-6
1/6, 2/6, 3/6, 4/6, 5/6, 6/6

4. Ink your block with the first color of your plan
5. Place your linoleum block print (inked) side up on a sheet of newsprint
6. Trace the shape of your block with a pencil onto the newsprint*
7. Center (register) your rice paper onto the linoleum block
8. Trace your rice paper with a pencil*
9. Press down on the back of your rice paper with a baren; moving your hand in “figure 8” motions.
10. Carefully “pull” or peel back the rice paper revealing the first color of your print
11. Repeat the process for each color of your reduction cut making sure to register your paper using your cheater sheet

*Note: ONLY DO THIS ONCE FOR REGISTRATION!! You do not need to do this every time you print. The traced images will create a “cheater sheet” that will help register your plate for each color printing.