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I'm having a hard time planning designs for reduction printing (carving a block for printing, carving more away for each colour). At the moment I draw the basic design on the block, but I keep cutting away bits on the first pass that I want darker on the next layer.

Is there a method people use to make this easier?

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If the have a computer drawing program such as Photoshop, gimp or Inkscape you could use those programs layering ability to simulate the different cut and colour "layers" you are looking to achieve.

Each layer would correspond to a cut and color.

Different pen tools could also be used to simulate different cutting tools.

And the zoom feature would allow you to assess the graphic presentation and design quality at various scales. Software scale able thumbnail feature.

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Use foam sheets to design each layer of your block.

  1. Draw your original design on a foam sheet and then cut it out.
  2. Use that cutout as a template to draw your design on a second foam sheet.
  3. Modify that second drawing as needed for the new color layer, then cut it out.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until all your layers are cut out.

When you encounter a design error at any layer, redo that layer to compensate.

Once all of the layers are working the way you want, you can either transcribe your effort onto the wooden block, or just use the foam cutouts as your stamps instead.

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