September 16, 2022

Just What Is A Single Reduction Woodblock?

By Leon Loughridge
Just What Is A Single Reduction Woodblock?

One of the print processes I use extensively is called the Reduction Process. This is where a single block is carved between printings. The printing area of the block is reduced between stages or printings. 

These multiple stages of printed color are basically a value progression. Visualize a value scale with white at the bottom (#1) and black at the top (#10). In between white and block are 8 levels of gray moving from white to black.  If the first color I print corresponds to a number 2 on a value chart, then the next color printed needs to be a number 4 value. A four stage reduction woodblock actually has five colors where white is the paper color and colors 2 through 5 have been printed

Santo Rubio - First Color Santo Rubio - Second Color


The first color printed has the most area in relief. This first stage is printed onto however many sheets are needed for the project. If I want extras to use as proof sheets, I need to print those as well on this first color run.
Once I start to carve for the second color, I cannot print any more of the first color as that has now been destroyed. 

Santo Rubio - Final


With the first color printed, the relief areas of the block are reduced or carved away to print the next value/color. The process can be as simple as a two color reduction print which is the demo of Santo Rubio. The demo displays each color layer separately and then printed together. 
I find it exciting that with two values, the image can be established and a story told. For each layer I add, more depth is added to the story


Tewa Pot is a four color reduction print created from one block. Image 1 and 2 are the first and second colors printed separately. Image 3 is the first two layers printed together. Image 4 is the third reduction printed by itself and Image 5 is the third color printed over the previous color runs. Image 6 is the forth and final reduction printed by itself and Image 7 is the completed image. 


Tewa Pot - 1Tewa Pot - 2
Tewa Pot - 1&2
Tewa Pot - 3Tewa Pot - 1-3
Tewa Pot - 4 Tewa Pot - Final
process woodblock