Category Archives: How-To

CMYK RGB HEX PMS? Colour Spaces and Printmaking

This post briefly introduces the two colour modes CMYK and RGB before moving on to the Pantone Matching System. It will then touch on mixing colours in the printmaking and letterpress workshops at LCC. It is meant as a small guide to help you decide when to use which colour mode and how to go about mixing the perfect shade in a print workshop.

Graph showing additive colour mixing on the left: Overlapping circle of blue, red and green. The overlaps are cyan, magenta, yellow and white. On the right, subtractive colour mixing: three overlapping circles in cyan, magenta and yellow. The overlaps form green, red, blue and black.

RGB is an additive colour space. The overlap of its three primary colours, Red, Green and Blue, results in white. This is because the RGB model is based on three light rays which are projected onto a surface.

CMYK, on the other hand, is a subtractive colour space. The combination of its primary colours, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow, results in ‘black’ – or rather, a dark, muddy brown. The K in CMYK stands for Key, referring to the key colour or plate.

On Screen

A monitor or TV screen generates three colors of light: red, green and blue. The different colors we see are due to different combinations and intensities of these three primary colors. This means that RGB is used for anything displayed on a screen, so if you are preparing images and colours for websites, they should be in this mode. It has the added benefit of reducing your file size, because it contains one colour channel less. We will take a quick look at channels a little bit further down.

When you import images from your phone, camera or a scanner, they will by default be set to RGB. Most printers, including your standard home printers, can interpret RGB data. They will convert and output it as CMYK, but this will usually lead to duller colours. In order to have control over your printed output, always convert your images and files before printing – ideally while before designing! You can check and change your colour space in Adobe Photoshop under Image > Mode.

Hexadecimals, which you may have come across in web design, are basically shorthand for RGB. A hexadecimal is made up of a hashtag and six character. The first two characters stand for red, the third and fourth for green, and the last two for blue. Values range from 0-9, followed by A-F. F is the most light, while 0 represents the least: so #ffffff equals white, and #000000 equals black. 

Adobe Photoshop Colour picker showing Web Colours and a hexadecimal value of 0000ff, which is intense 100% blue.
Adobe Photoshop Colour Picker for web colours, showing #0000FF

In Print

Digital printing and offset lithographic printing predominantly use CMYK for standard four-colour printing. Modern printers like for example the HP Indigo additionally use orange, violet and white.

All visible colours are made up of cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The four colours are printed in detailed patterns of differently sized dots to create the illusion of all colours. When you look closely you can determine the dot sizes and angles at which they are printed.

In order to achieve a real, dark black, designers and printers usually specify a rich black. This is solid black overprinted with a combination of one or all other CMYK primary colours. This can also create hues of warm and cool black.

An image in two halves, the left half shows a print of a succulent plant from an old book. The right half shows an enlarged portion of the plant image, which makes the CMYK halftone pattern visible.
A picture and close up showing CMYK halftones.
Original image from ‘200 House Plants in Colour’, first published 1968 by Zomer & Keuning. Printed offset lithography.
Activating CMYK channels in Adobe Photoshop

The distribution, size and angles of these dots matter. A standard combination of angles is Yellow at 0° or 90°, Black at 45°, Magenta at 75° and Cyan at 15°. When two colors are less than 30º apart there is a risk of moiré. There are lots of resources on the internet about different dot types and screen angles, for example on The Print Guide.

CMYK is not exclusive to digital and lithographic printing – in fact CMYK colour separations, or approximations where they are replaced with slightly or wildly different colours, are common in screen printing, risograph printing and even photo etching. 

The angles you may need for CMYK screen printing or photo etching can depend on additional factors such as your screen mesh, as the wrong angles could lead to Sawtoothing:

Four rectangular boxes of dots. The boxes are angled in increasing increments of 10°. The box on the right shows and uneven edge.
The edge of the last box shows sawtoothing. Image from The Print Guide.

Below are two pieces of work by our own specialist screen print technician Lisa Chappell. Lisa works with four-colour printing across many processes.

Small landscape image with rounded corners. The images shows a four colour photo etching of dark grounds with a sunset.
In Between (2019), photo etching, Lisa Chappell
View of the sky with clouds and sunlight and the reflection of a car. The image is the shape of a side mirror.
Road Trip (2019), screen print, Lisa Chappell

RGB in Print?

There is research into recreating RGB imagery in printmaking, for example using Spectraval pearlescent pigments by Merck Group. These are suitable for screen, gravure and flexo printing. Red, blue and green are overprinted on black to create lighter shades where they overlap.

Pantone Matching System

The Pantone Matching System is a numbering system for colours in graphic design. This system is widely used to define solid colours, for what is also knows as spot printing. In this process, a single colour is formulated rather than mixed by overprinting CMYK. 

There are plenty of reasons why you might use Pantone colours:

  • For more colour accuracy when printing, especially across different jobs, or when different printers being used
  • To define specific brand colours that can always be accurately reproduced through spot colour printing
  • Pantone allows for bright and bold, saturated colours; even neons, pastels and metallics
  • You can colour match accurately across other Pantone Systems – for example for textiles

The Pantone Formula Guides, or fans, are an international go-to reference for colour specification and verification. Each colour swatch has a specific name and recipe, which tells you the base colours it is mixed from. This is what we use in the printmaking workshops to determine how to achieve that perfect shade.

a fanned out Pantone Swatch Book showing neon colours: Pantone 809c, 810C, 811C.
Close-up of the PANTONE Pastels and Neons Swatch book showing recipes.

If you work a lot in inDesign and prepare books for print, my main tip is to set up a Preflight profile that checks for allowed colour spaces and image resolution. That way, you can check the entire document in an instant. I have one set up for print, and one for digital publishing, where only RGB is allowed. You can choose to only allow spot colours for example, if you are defining only Pantones for a print job.

Screenshot from Indesign with the Preflight panel opened
Screenshot from Indesign with Preflight Profiles opened showing a profile called Print. It specifies Color Spaces and Modes Not Allowed: RGB and LAB

Mixing Pantone colours for printmaking

When mixing colours for printing, there are several things that will affect your mix:

  • The type of inks. Oil based and water based inks will require different recipes
  • The mixing medium. in screen printing for example, this will determine the opacity of your ink
  • The printing method. How thick is your layer of ink going to be?
  • The substrate. What you are printing onto? Is it absorbent, like uncoated paper or fabric? Is it glass? Is it light or dark?
  • The lighting in the room will affect how you view colour. Remember ‘the dress’ that went viral?
  • How new is your reference Pantone swatch? If it has been exposed to light and is old, its colour will not be accurate anymore.
A grid of colour swatch tests with their respective Pantone colours.

All of these factors mean that the recipe can only get you so far. To accurately mix your colour, always mix a small amount first until you have your formula right. That way you won’t waste a lot of ink and you will be able to keep your mix simple more easily.

Keep testing as you go along. The easiest way to do this is to have a small sample of your substrate ready. Dip your little finger into the ink you have mixed and then dab it onto the substrate. Keep dabbing your finger, so the ink layer thins out, as this will represent your final outcome more closely. 

Shelves underneath the galley proofing press in letterpress, showing tins of Saphira Pantone inks.
Pantone base inks in the letterpress workshop at LCC

The letterpress workshop at LCC uses the same inks as offset lithographic printing. Our range is called Saphira by Heidelberg, and the workshop stocks all the base colours you need for mixing any Pantone shade.

The Print Guide

How to prepare a print ready artwork for printed pages

Understanding how to set up a document on Indesign can be confusing the first few times you try, but it is the best program to use to design and format the content for your books. Here is a guide on how to prepare your print-ready artwork.

How to set up your document?

Open InDesign and select file/New Document. Here is an example of an A4 Portrait book with 48 pages. (48 is the minimum number of pages needed for a multi-section binding)

Screenshot of the InDesign file set up showing the correct set up for an A4 document with 3mm bleed and 15mm margins
  • Choose your page size and the orientation. (Here we are doing A4. The size is 210x297mm)
  • Set up the margins all around with a minimum of 10mm on top, bottom and outer edge. I suggest using 15mm all around as a safe start.
  • Check carefully if your binding will require a larger margin. For example – Japanese binding will require a larger margin so that you have space to sew. Very thick books might also require a larger margin as you get towards the centre pages.
  • Set a minimum of 3mm bleed all around the pages.

How shall I set up my pages?

Your first page inside the book will always be on the right hand-side.
Below you can see the order of your pages. Please start your layout with the 1st page of the content. If you want to print your cover you will need to make a separate document and print as separate files. 
You will also need to include any blank pages where needed. You will not be able to ‘add in’ any blank pages during the binding process, unless you are perfect binding or single sheet sewing.

Screenshot of InDesign showing first three pages of a document
Screenshot of InDesign showing first three pages of a document

Why did we set up margins?

The binding edge (where the pages will be bound together) on your pages will alternate from left to right to left to right.

Screenshot of InDesign demonstrating the binding edge
Document demonstrating the binding edge

As mentioned above, in Japanese binding, we pierce the holes along the spine (binding edge). These holes can be up to 10mm into the page. It is very important that you leave enough margin on the binding edge inside of your pages so your content isn’t cut-off, or sewn into the spine. I would recommend a minimum of 20mm.

All the document settings can be changed at any point, and can be set to affect the whole document, or a particular page

Screenshot of InDesign showing incorrect use of margin
The text will get trimmed on the edges

The above right-hand side page has no margins. The text will get trimmed off on the edges.

Screenshot of InDesign showing correct use of margins, with 20mm on the binding edge and 15mm on all other edges
This page has 20mm margins on the binding edge and 15mm margins at the top, bottom and outside.

This page has 20mm margins on the binding edge.
It also has 15mm margins at the top, bottom and outside.

As mentioned before, the size of margin on the binding edge can change depending on the thickness of your book (the amount of pages). Especially with Japanese binding, the thicker the book, the larger the margin needs to be.

If you are concerned, you can always email us at and we can look over your document, or give you some advice.

Why do we need bleed on the document?

To print a full bleed image, the printer will print on a larger sheet and trim it down.
If you want an image to be full bleed, you need to allow space for the image to “overflow” off the page.

You should always include bleed on your document, as it is needed for document imposition. We recommend to leave 3mm bleed all around the pages.

Screenshot of InDesign showing incorrect use of bleed
document set up with no image in the bleed

This page has a full-page size image on it but has not been extended to the bleed. When trimming, some white borders could appear on the edges.
These edges happen because the sheet can shift slightly inside the machine during the printing process. 

Screenshot of InDesign showing correct use of bleed, with image extended to outer limit
Document set up with image extended into 3mm bleed all around.

This page has 3mm bleed all around. The bleed is shown by the outermost line around the document. You will need to extend your images up to, or beyond, this line if you want to have them printed full bleed. In Indesign the black line all around the page shows where we will trim, and will be printed as crop marks.

Screenshot of InDesign showing both correct and incorrect use of bleed

Here is a close up of the two documents set up.

The top page has not been extended to the bleed.

The bottom has been fully extended to the 3mm bleed.

Now you are ready to export your PDF.

Make sure you export as a High quality print PDF, and remove the crop marks. Use the document bleed settings (this should have been set at 3mm).

InDesign export set up

At LCC we don’t include the crop marks so we can work out the pagination. This can change for different print companies and printing techniques, so double check with your printer to see how they prefer to work.

Now you are ready to bind!

You can find tutorials on the Book Arts-Learning resources page of this website, and on on our Moodle page, where you can also book an online 1:1 with a technician. Alternatively, you can email us at

You can also attend a workshop on File prep for book binding, with Esmeralda in the Digital Space.
This workshop goes into preparing files in more depth and can be booked here :
You can also ask any questions, or organise a 1:1 with Esmeralda at

For Printing enquiries, you can email Claire in Reprographics at

This post was made with the help of Folio Atelier, a bespoke bindery based in Margate.

How to Start an Art Collection

A collection of prints displayed on a table.

In response to our Print Curiosities series, you might be asking yourself ‘how can I start my own art collection?’. Starting to create a collection of artworks can be a daunting and expensive idea for many. I am a recent graduate and don’t have the funds to purchase prints from some of my favourite artists, but there are ways to start creating a collection without this pressure. So….. here are some small and easy tips of how to get involved in starting your own print collection.

Tip no. 1: Swap with friends, peers and colleagues.

Being able to swap prints, books, photographs, paintings and sculpture with friends will help to grow your collection without spending money. Whilst on my MA, I swapped a project of artist books with some of my classmates, therefore starting a small artist book collection! These books not only are beautiful, but they can be a connection to this time in your life and a great way of supporting each other.

Fellow technicians swap Christmas cards in the festive period. They aren’t huge elaborate prints, but they are still beautiful, detailed and individual pieces of art that can be framed, placed on book shelves or mantelpieces.

Front cover of two blue books.

Tip no. 2: Join a print exchange, organised by an external body.

I took part in the 20:20 print exchange in 2019, organised by Hot Bed Press, with some fellow students at the RCA. The 20:20 print exchange invites artists from print studios across the country to submit original prints. I made a joint application with some of my fellow RCA students, as we had to form a print studio to submit our work. The print has to be 20 x 20cm and in an edition of 20. This was then sent off to Hot Bed Press. In return, we were each given a box of 20 prints from other participants in the print exchange. I got prints ranging from screen prints, etchings and risograph prints. Here are some of my favourites. There is a small fee with this, but you get a lot of prints in return. This is a local print exchange in the UK, but there are many around the world.

You can find out more about Hot Bed Presses Print Exchange on their website.

Tip no. 3: Look on the instagram hashtag #artistsupportpledge.

#artistsupport pledge was created during the lockdown of summer 2020 to help support artists and makers in selling work, as a lot of people in this sector have been struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea is that an artist can post an image of works on Instagram to sell for less than £200. Each time an artist reaches £1000 worth of sales, they pledge to spend £200 on another artist/makers’ work. This is a great way of finding artwork through the hashtag, discovering new artists and supporting them with your purchase. You can find amazing prints for relatively inexpensive prices… a complete steal, so check it out!

You can find out more information and browse works on their website and instagram.

Screen shot of the hashtag artist support pledge, with images in a grid of artwork for sale.

Easy Single Sheet Zine Making at Home

A group of zines on a table, all hand drawn with colourful pencils.

This is a super easy way of working from home, only using a single sheet of paper, a scalpel and your favourite drawing tools. I started by creating these small, cheap zine based ‘sketchbooks’ as a way for me to get creative and start drawing without feeling pressure, during the previous lockdown in March.

I found these really useful for getting my hands moving again, whether it be drawing, collaging, potato printing etc. They can act as springboards into new ideas, finding drawings you want to develop further, or even just a way of loosening up drawing. I have created a guide of how to make this easy zines including folding, cutting and assembling instructions. Give it a go and hopefully it will help to kick start any projects!

Two sheets of paper. One printer paper, roughly 90gsm and the other Fabriano Accademia, roughly 200gsm.

You can use any paper you have for this zine, you only need 1 sheet! The two above are a printer paper (shiny, low quality, roughly 90gsm) and a piece of Fabriano Accademia (matte, high quality, 200gsm). Use ANY paper so think about what you have to hand, don’t go out of your way to buy specific paper. Here are some examples: printer paper, artist papers, recycled papers, left over collage photograph paper, junk mail, newspaper, old drawings, old prints, paper samples etc etc!

You can follow this step-by-step instruction or scroll to the end of this blog post where there is a video of this process.


A piece of paper with folds marks drawn and labelled A, B, C and D.

Above is an image of the fold lines you will need to create. You will be folding your paper into 8 equal sections. Start by folding your paper in half widthways (Fold A in the diagram). You can use a bone folder, but I have been using a pen to get the edges crisp.

Then fold the outer edges on the short side into the middle folded line, creating two parallel folds (Fold B & C in the diagram).

Piece of paper with folds width ways half way and then either side half of that.

Fold your paper in half lengthways (Fold D in the diagram). You should now have all the fold marks shown on the grid in the diagram. The folds should divide the page into 8 equal sections.


Paper with all folds on. A cut line has been drawn from the first width fold to the third width fold.

Above is a diagram of where you will need to cut. Unfold your paper, so that it is flat. Cut along the middle length line (Fold D in the diagram), starting at the first width fold line (Fold C in the diagram) and finishing at the third width fold line (Fold B in the diagram).

If you fold your paper along the length line and stand it up like a tent. You should be able to see the cut through the top.

Image of paper with a cut through the middle.


Start folding your paper along the half length fold so that it stands like a tent. Hold both sides of the tent shape and push the ends towards each other. You should see the incision open into a diamond shape. Keep pushing until they make contact and create a cross shape.

Make the cross shape into the shape of a letter K, so that two sides are in line with each other. To do this, pinch the middle of the cross and push two facing sides away from each other so that they create a straight line. These will be your front and back cover. Keep pushing them until they meet the other sides and squeeze them all together.

Place the zine flat and that is your front cover. Now, time to draw.

The folded zine.

Here is a video of one of the zines I created.

Stencil Screen Printing From Home

Stencil screen print of egg packaging.

This blog post will show you another screen printing hack for anyone missing the studios. This method of printing is using a paper stencil as a barrier. This process is similar to the way you would work in the studio, but much more lo-fi.

Instead of using emulsion to act as a barrier for your ink, you will be using cut/torn newsprint (any thin paper) to do this. This process is great for experimenting with layers, textures and shapes!

You can create very detailed stencils or stencils that are a lot more abstract. This way of printing will allow you to create an edition, but only of a small size. The “barrier” paper will degrade over time.

Display of all the tools you will need. Screen, papers, scissors, inks, tapes, squeegee, card, j cloth.

What you will need:

  • Squeegee
  • Screen
  • Water based ink
  • Paper (Normal to print onto)
  • Paper (Thinner for your barrier)
  • Parcel tape
  • Ink pots
  • Sponge/J-Cloth for cleaning your screen.
  • Spatula/ ID card for spreading ink onto your screen.
  • Spoon/knife for mixing inks in your pot.

Optional extras:

Our list of suppliers has information on where you can buy some of these materials from.

Step 1: Tape out your screen to create a window just smaller than your paper. Remember that anywhere you can see your screen mesh ink will print!

I have used parcel tape, but you can use white tape or anything similar. I have got clamps to hold my screen in place when printing, but if you don’t have these you could ask a flatmate to hold it down, or use big bags of rice.

Screen attached to wood with clamps, with tape creating a 'window'

Step 2: Position your paper under your screen, so that it lines up with the window you created with parcel tape. Once it is in place use tape to mark where the corner of your paper should be. I have used masking tape to mark where my corners land.

Paper in line underneath a screen, with tape to mark the edges.

Step 3: Create your stencil! Using thin paper, cut or tear your paper to create stencils. I have used newsprint which is 90gsm. At this point you can be experimental. You can cut a very detailed stencil using a scalpel/scissors or tear the paper for more abstract shapes with textured edges.

Step 4: Get your inks ready. If you have ready mixed inks that’s great, but you can easily use any brand of acrylic paint with screen printing medium. Remember to mix your paint with at least 50% of the Screen printing medium.

I have used the ends of plastic bottles as my ink storage, but you can use anything you find in your home.

Step 5: Position your stencil on top of your printing paper. Place the paper in the registration marks and place your stencil on top exactly where you want the design.

Step 6: Prop your screen on a roll of tape to allow you to flood the screen before printing.

roll of masking tape propping up screen.

Step 7: Floor your screen. Run a large amount of ink along the near side of your screen. You will then use your squeegee to push the ink to the back of the screen, covering the open area.

Step 8: You’re ready to print. Take out the roll of tape and place the screen down. With your squeegee, push down and pull it towards you.

1 or 2 pulls should be enough. If you are pulling twice don’t lift your screen up to look at your print in between, as you may move the paper underneath the screen. The first print might not be the best quality, but it will soon fill in.

screen with ink printed and squeegee pulled towards printer.

Step 9: Lift up your screen and reveal your masterpiece. Put your print on the drying rack, flood your screen and keep printing, by repeating from Step 5 onwards.

Remember to keep moving when printing as you don’t want the ink to dry in the mesh. If you need to pause then just clean your screen before.

screen lifted with print underneath.

Step 10: Once you have completed all the prints you want from this stencil, use your ID card or spatula to scoop up your ink and save it for another time. Peel off your stencil from the underside of your screen and use your j-cloth or sponge with water to give your screen a thorough wash.

You can repeat from Step 3 if you want to add another layer to your print. This could add more detail, a new colour or a background. Take time to line up your second stencil on top of your first colour before printing.

You can keep adding layers to your print and be experimental with how you work.

One completed, this print can be worked into, using pencils, inks, oil pastels or pens and can be cut up and used for collage.

finished two layer print of eggs, banana and orange.

Print your own Design on Book cloth

All you need is some A4 book cloth and an inkjet printer. Every material will have a slightly different outcome as it depends on the finish of the book cloth, your printer and if your screen is calibrated. That means you will need to do some tests.

Below you will find a selection and tests on different book cloths that are suitable for printing. Some images work better than others. A common problem is the printer has difficulties taking the book cloth in, or recognising it. If this happens, what you can do is tape the top of the book cloth onto a sheet of paper with a small gap. Like this, your printer will recognise the book cloth as a sheet of paper.

The photographs are from a series of Ruby Rossini’s own Quarantine Residency: Looking for nature where nature is not. Ruby completed her MA in Design for Art Direction at LCC last year. She now works as a multidisciplinary Designer, Art Director and Photographer. Her personal works focuses on the theme of belonging and identity through a variety of different media which are visually explored through Image-Making.

Wicotex Saphir is a Natural woven rayon cloth. Texprint White and Velprint White are flocked materials with printable textile structures.

Wicotex Toile Canvas is a Open weave cotton book cloth that transmits the sense of originality. Brilliance White and Wicotex Printex are natural woven rayon cloth.

Wicotex Brillianta Calandre, Wicotex Imprimex and Wicotex OLB Premium are all natural woven rayon cloths with slightly different finishes. The Wicotex Imprimex took very long to dry.

Wicotex Finesse, again is a natural woven rayon cloth. Kashgar is a luxury woven material with the natural lustre of real satin. Wicotex Magic is a classic woven textiles with the genuine touch and feel of the finest linen.

Order your A4 book cloth samples at Winter and Company

If you have an A4 inkjet printer you can, for example, create an A6 (or slightly bigger) Single Section Case Binding.

Single Section Case Binding

You can find out how to make your own Single Section Case Binding with a step by step guide illustrated in the two books below:

A step-by-step guide by Kathy Abbott

Making Books
A guide to creating hand-crafted books
by the London Centre for Book Arts

Featured Graduate: Shihui Yang with a step-by-step guide on how to make your own Long Stitch Binding

Shihui Yang is a book artist based in Singapore. She started her book arts journey 8 years ago when she came to London to undertake her Bachelor’s degree in Book Arts and Design at London College of Communication. Whilst in the UK, she has worked with global publishing house, Dorling Kindersley, which saw her creating professional book mock-ups for presentation at international book fairs. She also did work experience at the London Centre for Book Arts where she learned how to run a workshop and deepened her book making skills. Upon graduation, she continued to explore the different formats and structure of the book as she worked as a junior art director at an advertising firm.

Longing to take her passion full time, she started Based Book Arts Workshop – an independent creative workshop dedicated to educating book making and book arts. She has since been conducting bookbinding workshops and creating works at a quaint printmaking workshop – The Bee’s Knees Press

Since we are all spending more time at home nowadays, she has turned her Long Stitch bookbinding workshop into an online tutorial for you to download and to make your own long stitch binding without using any glue.

Image is showing a Long Stitch Binding and all materials required for making it: awl, bone folder, needle, thread, cutting knife, pencil, ruler cutting mat, eraser, scissors
Long Stitch Binding and Tools

Download tutorial here:

Before starting you might want to make yourself familiar with the terminologies of a book, which are used in this tutorial as well as create your own punching cradle by following the step-by-step guide here.

Image is showing all materials required for a Long Stitch Binding: cover paper, text paper, waste paper, awl, bone folder, needle, thread, cutting knife, pencil, ruler cutting mat, eraser
Materials for a Long Stitch Binding

A note on paper

You get up in the morning, excited to print.  
You’ve been inspired by some AMAZING blogs and web content by your favourite technicians. 
You negotiate with housemates, and commandeer the kitchen table.  
You roll up the ink.  You might have a lino block ready, or a monoprint image to trace.   
You put down your paper, and carefully, press, press, and press.   

And then this happens:  

Photography of a poorly printed monotype of a pigeon.
Pigeon, printed poorly. Monotype, 2020.

That sinking feeling in your chest.  The bitter taste of disappointment.  The desire to give up, and turn on the TV.  Step back.  Breathe.  Try a different paper.  It might make all the difference.   

Here are ten prints, on ten different papers. Monoprinted with a pen, the handle of a wooden spoon, and the back of the spoon. Rolled up the same way each time, and printed off a thin perspex plate.

Left: monoprint on newsprint
Right: monoprint on graph paper

Left: Newsprint,  52gsm.  Nothing will ever print as well as newsprint.  It is smooth, flat, sensitive, and beautiful.  And no, there is no archival, cotton, thicker version of the stuff.  It is going to disintegrate. It is going to fade. I’ve even ripped it, bottom right corner. Truth to materials.  

Right: Graph paper, 60gsm.  Smooth, machine made, wood pulp.  I used this, because I don’t have any plain copier paper at home.  Easy to print, and I love a grid.

Left: monoprint on Simili Japon
Right: monoprint on Zerkall Smooth

Left: Simili Japon, 130gsm.  Made in the Netherlands to look like Japanese woodblock paper, it is high grade pulp, acid free, unbuffered.  Beautifully smooth, very sensitive, highly absorbent.

Right: Zerkall Smooth, 145gsm.  Mould-made, acid free, blended cotton and woodpulp.  A favourite for relief printing, but the increase in weight means a bit more work is required.  Less absorbent. Look at those spoon marks in the flat section!  

Left: monoprint on Somerset Satin
Right: monoprint on Fabriano Eco

Left: Somerset Satin, 300gsm.  Really thick, very lush, 100% cotton paper.  This is the one we recommend in the workshop, but it is HARD WORK if you’re printing any flat section by hand.  This print shows the distinctive surface pattern of a mould made paper.  It is also my fourth attempt on this paper.
Right: Fabriano Eco, 200gsm.  The hard surface of this paper, and the very slight tooth, means that monoprints look quite ‘dry’ and crayon-like.  Completely different when compared to the Somerset. You would not know these were printed with the same ink, and exact rolling technique, except that I’m tell you, it’s true!  

Left: monoprint on Hosho pad
Right: monoprint on Colorplan Smoke

Left: Hosho Pad, 90gsm.  This mid-week Japanese paper has the advantage of being designed to be printed by hand.  Soft, sympathetic, and yielding.  Almost romantic.  
Right: Colourplan Smoke, 270gsm. This GF Smith paper is a favourite amongst graphic designers, and comes in a wide range of colours and weights.  I have two colours, so I printed on both.  

Left: monoprint on Colorplan Harvest
Right: monoprint on unknown paper

Left: Colorplan Harvest, 270gsm.   Sturdy, robust, woodpulp paper, these take quite a lot of work to print a flat area by hand.
Right: Mystery paper, approx. 135gsm.  Some say Fedrigoni, others say GF Smith fluted, this random paper was under my sofa.  It prints beautifully, holding a soft line, and its lighter weight made it much easier to print than its graphic cousins.  

When you have access to the press, you take for granted the pressure, evenness, and ease, that 500 years of careful engineering have produced.  When you only have yourself, and a spoon, you have to embrace the process of uncertainty, and research the familiar in an unfamiliar way.  

Monoprint of a pigeon, printed on Hosho Pad, 90gsm.
Pigeon, again. Monoprint, 2020.

Paper choice matters.  Whether you’re making a book, a print, a drawing, packaging, poster or other publication, the physical qualities of the paper will inform your work, and place it within a wider making narrative.  This is true by press, or by hand.  Sometimes, the best-laid plans are scuppered, and other times, you find yourself pleasantly surprised by the mystery scrap you found underneath the sofa, as I have.  

A print flying off my balcony as I try to take a photograph.

PS. Moments of dissatisfaction and frustration come to us all.  Even when things are going well.  Here is the moment when I take a print onto the balcony to photograph. The wind catches it, and it’s gone.  

PPS. What papers are YOU using? Reply and let us know!

Mono Screen Printing

ink painted on a screen

Missing the screen print workshop? I know I am! But don’t worry, there are still ways of working with screen print even without our amazing facilities.

The first method I’m going to show you is mono screenprint.

Mono screenprint is a fun, versatile and spontaneous method of working, leading to some unique creative possibilities by allowing you to work in a playful and gestural way.

Working directly on to the mesh of the screen, it’s possible to paint, sponge, flick, drip and splatter ink, draw with pencils, charcoal and other water-soluble materials, to create unique prints.

overhead image of all equipment and materials required.


  • screen
  • squeegee
  • paper
  • acrylic ink
  • parcel tape or similar
  • ink pots
  • spatulas / spoons
  • brushes
  • sponge
  • water source

Optional, but helpful:

Please see the list of suppliers in the screenprint menu, or get in touch for advice before investing in more expensive items such as screens / squeegees / hinge clamps.

screen with taped border , clamped into place.
screen with taped border, using hinge clamps and board.
  1. Tape a border to create an aperture slightly smaller than your paper size. I have used this white tape but some parcel tapes can be used, such as Scotch 3M and Wilko own brand. I have hinge clamps to keep my screen in position while I print. You could ask a willing housemate to hold it still for you!
using washi tape to mark edges of printing paper
Registration marks using washi tape

2. Position your paper under the screen and mark one corner and one edge, as registration marks. I have used washi tape as the colour makes it easy to see, but you could use masking tape and colour it with a sharpie or similar.

pencil drawing on paper to be used as a guide
rough outline as a guide

3. You could draw a rough outline of the image you want to produce, or even use a photocopy/printout if you need more detail, and place this under the screen.

4. Get your inks ready. Any brand of acrylic will work, but remember you must mix it with at least 50% medium, you can’t use it straight from the tube. There are also ready mixed options available.

Here I have used some empty cake packaging (Thank you Mr.Kipling) as a kind of palette to mix small quantities in. I’ve got a selection of old brushes, sponge, bubble wrap and various other materials to use. Anything that can give you marks and textures is good, but don’t use anything sharp that could damage the screen mesh.

screen propped up
screen propped up away from the paper, using roll of washi tape

5. Prop your screen up slightly so it is not resting directly on the paper or board. I have used my roll of washi tape, but you could use something else.

6. You are ready to start painting!

painted image on the screen with tools
Image painted on the mesh

As acrylic inks dry quite fast so you will need to work fairly quickly. Don’t let the ink dry on the screen! Fill in as much of the mesh as you can. Any empty areas will allow the marks to smudge and drag as you pull the squeegee across. If you want blank areas, just use plain medium to fill in the gaps.

the squeegee positioned ready to print
Medium at the top of the image, ready to print

7. Once you have finished applying the ink, pour some printing medium at the top of the image. Remove the prop (my washi tape) from under the screen to lower it onto the paper. Without flooding the screen, just press down and pull the squeegee towards you to print. Once is enough.

the print on paper being revealed
the print is revealed

8. Lift your screen to reveal the print!

detail of print showing marks and textures
detail of marks and texture

There will now be residue of ink in the mesh, which allows you to print again to create one or two “ghost” prints. These are definitely worth printing as they can be used as a base layer to continue working on top of, with more printed layers, or drawing, or cutting up for collage.

Squeegee positioned to print again
printing the residue with tinted medium

Without flooding the screen, you can either add fresh medium to the top, or as I have done here, scoop up the now tinted medium from the screen and print again.

Scoop up as much ink as you can, and save into a new pot. Don’t throw it away!! It can be used again as a tinted medium, or you could add more acrylic to it to make a new colour.

Now you can choose to wash and dry your screen before starting again, or continue to add more ink.

Here I have carried straight on, using the ghost on the mesh as a rough guide, to create a similar image.

This technique can be used in combination with paper stencils or photo stencils too, or as a base layer for another process. Try drawing with charcoal or graphite sticks on the mesh for more linear work (carefully, don’t press too hard or the mesh might tear!)

For further inspiration, have a look at Katy Binks, Augustine and Bridgland, Charlotte Cornish and Alice Hartley

If you prefer live action, there’s a nice little video by American artist David Manje here .

mixed ink in a pot
Save your ink!

Featured Graduate: Miriam Brüggen with a step-by-step guide on how to make your own Punching Cradle

Image showing Miriam Brüggen at the printing press at the letterpress studio Letterpress Letters in Tokyo
Miriam Brüggen printing at the letterpress studio Letterpress Letters in Tokyo

Miriam Brüggen is a graphic designer and visual artist based in Berlin. She graduated from London College of Communication in 2017 with a Postgraduate Diploma in Design for Visual Communication – during this time she focused on book and letterpress projects. After graduation she pursued a career in the field of spatial and communication design, and, in collaboration with architects, interior / product & motion designers creates analog and digital touch points for brand spaces. In her free-time, she follows her passion for book and print projects, since she values the work with physical materials.

She just returned from a 6 month trip to Japan, where she explored traditional bookbinding and printing techniques and worked for the letterpress studio Letterpress Letters in Tokyo. During that time she learnt to value the benefits of a sewing punching cradle, which allows to bind books very precisely.

Miriam created a step by step guide for you on how to create your own punching cradle below.

Showing Miriam's desk with a  punching cradle
Miriam’s desk with a punching cradle

Step-by-step Punching Cradle

You will need:

• Sharp Blade
• Ruler, Pencil
• PVA Glue
• Glue Brush
• Bone Folder
• Waste Paper

• 2 x large pieces of grey board (2.0mm–2.5mm), W 120 x L 330 mm
• 4 x small pieces of grey board (same weight), W 120 x L 105 mm
• 2 x strips of book cloth: W 80 x L 330 mm

Showing book cloth and grey board
Materials: book cloth and grey board

Start with the four small rectangles that support the cradle body.

Draw a triangle on two of them. Take the long edge (120 mm) for the bottom side of the triangle. It should start about 15 mm from each corner and the tip should be 45 mm away from the top edge.

Image showing cutting instructions on grey board
Cutting instructions

Cut the triangles out

Image of triangles cut out
Triangles cut out

Glue each of the remaining pieces on one of the untrimmed rectangles. The support legs are done and you can place both under a weight for a short while (some heavy books will be fine!).

Showing the support legs glued together
Support legs

In the meantime, make the cradle body. Take one strip of book cloth and mark the centre of the short edge. Repeat same step with the other piece of book cloth.

Image is showing two pieces of book cloths
Mark the centre of the book cloth

Add two marks, the first, one board thickness to the left from the middle, the second, one board thickness to the right (use the two cut out triangles as a gauge).

Image showing how to use the triangles as gauge
Use the triangles as gauge

Brush the book cloth with glue and attach the long grey boards to the lines.

Take your bone folder, flatten the cloth and score down the middle, this will neaten the joint.

Image of the usage of a bone folder
Use a bone folder to define the joint

Repeat with the other side: Brush the cloth with glue and put it on the grey boards, try to align it with the cloth underneath.

Image showing how to attach the book cloth
Attach book cloth from the other side

Neaten the joint from this side, too.

Image of the usage of a bone folder

Eventually, it should look like this. When you are ready, put it under a weight for a couple of minutes.

Image showing both joints together
Both boards joined together

Measure and mark up 10mm from the edge of both short sides. Create a slit by cutting the thickness of one grey board. The slit’s width should be 128 mm in total to fit the support legs. Take 64 mm from the centre of the cradle body to the left and right.

Images shows how to measure
Measure 10mm from both the sides

The depth of the slit should should equal the thickness of one grey board (use one of the rectangles as gauge. It should be the exact thickness, if its too wide the cradle body will sit lose).
The slit’s width should be 128 mm in total to fit the support legs. Measure 64 mm from the centre of the cradle body to the left and right.

Almost done, now you can slide each side over the support legs. If necessary, enlarge the slit to fit the cradle body.

Image on how to construct the punching cradle
Constructing the punching cradle

Et voilà. Below a printable version of the whole process. Miriam also prepared a short hand out with her notes and some step-by-step illustrations.

Image of punching cradle
Finished punching cradle