Woodcut

WPG artist Trudi Y. Ludwig working on a woodcut

A woodcut is a form of relief print in which the artist cuts lines and shapes from a flat block of wood. Ink rolled onto the block adheres only to the surface, skipping over the areas which have been cut away. To print, the artist places paper over the inked surface and applies pressure by hand or with a printing press, thereby transferring the image to the paper.

Woodcut
In a woodcut, the matrix is cut along the length of the tree trunk, and the artist must work with the grain of the wood, often creating an angular mark.

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Wood Engraving
In wood engraving the matrix is end-grain wood, cut in cross-section across the tree trunk. The artist is not constrained by the direction of the grain and uses specialized tools which create distinctive marks.

There are a number of ways to create multi-color images with woodcuts, including:

Multi-plate Woodcut
Multiple blocks, inked in different colors, are printed in succession, one color on top of another, using careful registration. Interesting effects result when colors – either transparent or opaque – overlap one another.

Printing a Jigsaw Woodcut

Reduction Woodcut
Multicolor reduction woodcuts use only one block, carved away in stages for each subsequent color. The block is cut and used to print the first color; the same block is cut down further (hence the term reduction woodcut) and used to print the second color over the first. The artist continues to cut and print until all colors have been printed. There is, however, no opportunity to go back to the first color, since the wood has already been cut away.

Jigsaw Woodcut
The block is cut into pieces which are inked with separate colors, re-assembled, and printed. This creates a multi-color image in one printing, with a white line – the width of the saw cut – separating each color.

White-line Woodcut
In white-line woodcut, the artist cuts a line to separate each area of color and applies the color (normally with a brush) to the separate shapes on the block before printing. Since watercolor inks are often used for white-line woodcut, the color can vary considerably within an edition.

Compare woodcuts to linocuts.

Old Logging RailroadM. Alexander Gray
Image © M. Alexander Gray. All rights reserved.
Old Logging Railroad thumbnail

Old Logging Railroad

Virginia CattleM. Alexander Gray
Image © M. Alexander Gray. All rights reserved.
Virginia Cattle thumbnail

Virginia Cattle

Not Made For Each Other IHeather McMordie
Image © Heather McMordie. All rights reserved.
Not Made For Each Other I by Heather McMordie

Not Made For Each Other I

Not Made For Each Other IIHeather McMordie
Image © Heather McMordie. All rights reserved.
Not Made For Each Other II by Heather McMordie

Not Made For Each Other II

Not Made For Each Other IIIHeather Mcmordie
Image © Heather Mcmordie. All rights reserved.
Not Made For Each Other III by Heather Mcmordie

Not Made For Each Other III

Not Made For Each Other IVHeather Mcmordie
Image © Heather Mcmordie. All rights reserved.
Not Made For Each Other IV by Heather Mcmordie

Not Made For Each Other IV

Before Sunrise, Gull LakeMax-Karl Winkler
Image © Max-Karl Winkler. All rights reserved.
BeforeSunriseGullLk225

Before Sunrise, Gull Lake

Dagan at 33Max-Karl Winkler
Image © Max-Karl Winkler. All rights reserved.
DaganAt33225

Dagan at 33

EdMax-Karl Winkler
Image © Max-Karl Winkler. All rights reserved.
Ed225

Ed

The Model Takes a Break (1)Max-Karl Winkler
Image © Max-Karl Winkler. All rights reserved.
ModelTakesBreak1225

The Model Takes a Break (1)

The Model Takes a Break (2)Max-Karl Winkler
Image © Max-Karl Winkler. All rights reserved.
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The Model Takes a Break (2)

The Model Takes a Break (3)Max-Karl Winkler
Image © Max-Karl Winkler. All rights reserved.
"The Model Takes a Break (3)" by Max-Karl Winkler

The Model Takes a Break (3)

NestMax-Karl Winkler
Image © Max-Karl Winkler. All rights reserved.
Nest225

Nest

TorsoMax-Karl Winkler
Image © Max-Karl Winkler. All rights reserved.
Torso201225

Torso

Woman Washing her HairMax-Karl Winkler
Image © Max-Karl Winkler. All rights reserved.
WomanWashingHerHair225

Woman Washing her Hair

Other People’s Studios: KarenKevin Frances
Image © Kevin Frances. All rights reserved.
03Frances225

Other People’s Studios: Karen

DegenerateJeff Miller
Image © Jeff Miller. All rights reserved.
07Miller225

Degenerate

The Exposure of LuxuryTrudi Y. Ludwig
Image © Trudi Y. Ludwig. All rights reserved.
"The Exposure of Luxury" by Trudi Y. Ludwig

The Exposure of Luxury

Prima VeritasTrudi Y. Ludwig
Image © Trudi Y. Ludwig. All rights reserved.
"Prima Veritas" by Trudi Y. Ludwig

Prima Veritas

Carpe DiemTrudi Y. Ludwig
Image © Trudi Y. Ludwig. All rights reserved.
"Carpe Diem" by Trudi Y. Ludwig

Carpe Diem