3 Color Woodblock Print

For my first project I decided to test the ability of the machine to create precise multi-plate prints using my small printing press

Multi-color prints are challenging with a hand driven press because it requires absolute precision across multiple blocks from design, to carving, and then placing the block and paper to run through. It’s not just about putting the color where you want it, but about putting the color where it needs to be in relation to the other colors.

The Glowforge can obviously help with a lot of that.

Whenever I’m learning something new I always default to circles, as they are simple and quick, and always nice to look at.

I started by generating a basic series of concentric circles using processing to create nice, exact shapes. I then used Photoshop to create 3 images, 1 for each color of the final print. Then inkscape to convert to SVG (in the future I will use Illustrator since Inkscape uses an arbitrary PPI that changes the physical dimensions of the cut, which is not welcome in this process).

I engraved the images, and cut out the small blocks I’d be using to print on draftboard.


Finally I cut a guide with a hole in it for the plates to ensure precise registration and that the paper was level with the printing surfaces.

Here’s the setup on the bed of the printing press:

Here’s a close-up of the final image (taken with a phone camera, in shadow, but oh well). Close

Note how well the different lines match up. The only overlap of colors is due to some ink bleeding through, which is a printing issue, not a carving issue. The machine did its job perfectly, and the draftboard worked fine as a wood block- which is good since it’s a good amount cheaper than a similar chunk of linoleum or printing wood would cost.

I’m excited. I haven’t even tried any 3D assemblages or even different materials, but just this functionality opens up so many possibilities to work with it could keep me occupied for the next year. The level of detail available, and the precision it allows will let me do some amazing things that this little Jasper Johns rip off doesn’t even hint at, even at incredibly small scales.


Wow, this is a great idea!

Well done


Awesome use of the draftboard! :grinning: :+1:



Any idea how many prints you can get out of draftboard carvings?


Great idea!
Draft board is perfect for proof of concept, but I wonder if the draft board would swell with the moisture.
Looking forward to more of your work! :sunglasses:


Inspiring!!! Thanks for the great write up!

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I’m guessing that as @PrintToLaser implied, the material may warp after a set number of uses. I’m hoping it holds up enough for a few printing sessions, but there’s probably steps that be taken to prolong it. I don’t tend to do large so I don’t think it’ll affect me but I also wouldn’t rely on this to start an enduring library for a commercial print shop. :slight_smile:

I’ll update if I notice anything sooner than expected. For now I’m planning the next experiment


Awesome! And so appropriate to a project I’m working on right now. My plan is to spray the Draftboard with a matte sealer to cut down on the porosity a little. I’m not planning on using printing inks, but instead pigment inks for papercrafting. So I’m hoping it works.


I look forward to hearing about your experiments! Let me know how sealing it helps!

Awesome, this is excellent and very relevant to my interests!

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Fantastic! I look forward to seeing more!

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Nice! I wonder what kind of resolution you can get.

The [quote=“paulw, post:12, topic:13744, full:true”]
Nice! I wonder what kind of resolution you can get.

So far the printing process has been the limiting factor. I created another, smaller plate with a miniaturized version of a b/w drawing (no greyscale) on it and while the Glowforge handled the detail without a problem, when printing the ink got stuck anywhere the grooves (corresponding to where a white line should appear) were too thin. There are ways to deal with this but I haven’t had time to explore them yet. I don’t have any images of these attempts either. Thin black lines worked fine. The wood makes sure they are stiff enough to remain stable during printing.

I’ve been hoping to see experiments like this in the community, and I’m so glad this was a success. I’m very excited to try this method.

For more permanent plates, delrin would be a good option, I think.


I think it did help. You can see the results of my experiment here.

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Nicely executed! This opens up a lot of ideas for me.

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This is wonderful! Thank you for posting!

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