Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Easy & Simple Photo(shop) Linocuts!

Wouldn't it be cool to take a photo that you love and create a linocut from it? "What the heck is a linocut?" you may be asking. Well, it's a printmaking technique — similar to woodcut — in which a sheet of linoleum is carved with a pattern and then used for printing. But to do that you need special tools and laser copies and acetone and lots of patience and printing ink and more! What if you could do it on your computer in a few minutes? Awesome!

Catherine Anderson — Art & Soul instructor extraordinaire and Photoshop Elements expert — explains how in this super easy tutorial. You'll definitely want to print this one out and save it in your art file!

1.  Open your digital photo in Photoshop and make a duplicate layer.

2.  Go to Enhance > Unsharp Mask.  Set the Amount to 500% and the Threshold to 0.  Try a Radius setting of 8 to start, but also adjust it to see if you like any of the other settings better.

3.  Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius at about one quarter of the value of the Radius setting in Step 2. above.

4.  Repeat the Enhance > Unsharp Mask step in 2. above.

5.  Finally, go to Filter > Adjustments > Threshold and adjust the Threshold level until you create an image that you like.

You now have your black and white linocut! I printed my linocut barn owl out on white paper with my laser printer, then used the packing tape transfer method on page 95 of The Creative Photographer to make a transparent image which I pasted on a green background after cutting around the owl. This is a great way to use your photographs in art projects.

In Catherine's book, The Creative Photographer, the chapter on Photography as Meditation in Exploration 8 (page 140) shows you how to make linocuts using leaves from your garden. However, this method can be applied to any of your photographs as well.  This is how she created this black and white linocut of a photo of this Barn Owl using Photoshop Elements.

Catherine's Kansas City classes are all filled up (yes, she's very popular!) but she still has some room in her workshops in Art & Soul Virginia Beach so check them out! Her classes focus on incorporating photography into mixed media projects as she believes that the visual memories you create should be shared in meaningful ways.


  1. I have been trying to do this my ENTIRE LIFE!!

    1. Well, Donna... I hope this was helpful and that you can finally have fun experimenting and enjoy this technique. Happy "linocutting!

  2. I love this Catherine! And I was wowed when I saw you had written The Creative Photographer. I've had that book for years and love it. Never put time aside to do any of it.But I did make a nice "linocut" of my dog with most of your steps. The Threshold step isn't possible with PS 2022.

    1. I belive it is canthrine, its jut in a diferent place in the menues now. They like to try and keep us on our toes. you can find the threashold option under the image menue. Inage > Ajustments > threashold. Likewise, enhance is now referd to as 'sharpen' and is found in the filter menu. Filter > sharpen > unsharp mask


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