Saturday 4 August 2012

Printing Tutorial - Part 1 Relief Printing

I love the element of unpredictability with printing - you're never quite sure what the final result will be! 
There are loads of different ways of making prints, so I'll start with one of the most simple and the one that I probably use the most in my own work - relief printing.   

For many methods of printing (including this one) you don't need to buy special equipment, you can use items that you have around the house. 

You may want to buy some special printing ink, but if you're just wanting to try out the technique ordinary paint will work (though you have to work quickly and make your print before  the paint starts to dry)

How to make a relief print

1.This technique is really easy - all you need is an object to print with, ink/paint, and paper or another surface to print onto. First, choose your object - you're looking for something with a fairly flat surface and an interesting texture.
 2. Apply ink or paint to your object with a brush or a little roller if you have one. Cover your object completely with paint, making sure the paint isn't too thick or too watery (once you've done a few prints you'll get a feel for how much paint to use).
3. Place your inked/painted object flat down onto your surface, taking care not to let it move around. Cover it with a clean sheet of paper (this stops any paint from your hands getting onto your print) then press down firmly.

4. Varying the amount of paint and the pressure you use when pressing down will give different results. You can also add more tham one colour to your object. You can sometimes get more than one print without re-inking your object - each subsequent print will be more faded than the last. 

4.Remove your object carefully and see what you've got!

If you like you can add a wash of colour over your print once it's dry ...
  ... or cut out your prints to use in a mixed media piece (I think the leaf print on the left would make a great tree!)

You could try printing onto other surfaces as well as paper - I made these leaf prints on cotton... 

There are endless objects you can use for printing. The background here was done with bubble wrap ...
And you can get some pretty effects printing with lace or doilies...

I'd love to see what you come up with! 

Next time I'll be writing about how to make monoprints :)


  1. Lovely article. I love printing as a hobby and this is a great simple tute

  2. Gorgeous effects, thanks for the inspiration :-)

    Kat Xx

  3. Great tutorial Angie and I love the results- endless possibilities.

  4. This is wonderful Angie ~ I love seeing behind the curtain of your work and have a better understanding now of how you create the beautiful pieces you do!

  5. Very nice post, Angie. Thanks for sharing. Can you tell me how you get such nice clean white backgrounds for your photos?

    Fun stuff!

  6. Thanks Tammy :)
    The photos with the white backgrounds here I've just taken on white card, and near a window!

  7. Just popping in to wish you a very, very ♫Happy Birthday♫

  8. Aw thanks Sharon that's very sweet of you x

  9. Beautiful work, Angie, I always love a tutorial that is simple to follow and the results are so pretty...I love the idea of a leaf print as a tree :)

  10. Thanks for reminding me about this fun and beautiful way of printing! I love the pieces you've done. I want to go on a treasure hunt right now to collect things to print with!!