Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Transferring key block to color blocks

As promised, I made a little video on easy transferring of key block to color blocks.
Determining the number of color blocks is the hard part, I tend to just think through it and usually end up with more blocks than I need. I guess that's better than being short a block.

Everything needed to transfer key block, foamboard registration jig,
transparent sheet, blank blocks, ink, printing instrument

For loose designs such as the Fantastic Garden doodle rewards, the color blocks are easy to transfer and carve. If I want more precision, I usually use a variation of the traditional Japanese method: transfer key block to tracing paper, glue tracing paper onto color blocks with registration marks included.

But for Western relief color prints and a simple design, I save my precious hanshita (backed tracing) paper and transfer the design right from one block to another. For this, I use a registration board made with foamboard that fits the height of the block perfectly. This allows me to place the corner of the printing block against the registration board, place the paper against the registration guides and print away.

Nice transfers onto several color blocks and some proofs
I will use the registration board for the actual print and in order to adapt it to transfer the key block to the color blocks, I simply add a sheet of any non-stretchable, see-through, and non-absorbent material. This can be Mylar, any transparent plastic sheet such as overhead transparency, glassine (although I like to see completely through), or any similar material.

The sheet needs to be slightly larger than the block but not so large that it becomes unwieldy to handle. I tack the edge of the sheet onto the foamboard registration board and flip aside to allow me to ink the block. Here is the procedure:

  1. Pin or tape the transparent transfer sheet to the registration board and flip aside
  2. Ink the block
  3. Register the corner of the block on the registration board
  4. Flip the sheet onto the block
  5. Print the transparent sheet as any other sheet, with hand or press pressure
  6. Flip the sheet aside and remove key block
  7. Place blank block in the registration board
  8. Flip sheet onto the blank block
  9. Print the sheet onto the block using hand or press pressure
  10. Repeat for each color block needed

The whole procedure in video, enjoy!

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