The process of woodblock printing (Ukiyo-e) is very meticulous and highly personal. The peak in popularity occurred during the 17th Century, and Printmakers have continued to add their unique touch to Ukiyo-e production.
Traditionally, each print required the collaboration of four experts: the designer, the engraver, the printer, and the publisher.
Common themes associated with traditional Ukiyo-e include depictions of beautiful women, kabuki actors, fauna, and folk tales.
The art form traditionally expressed mainstream issues and could be consumed by many. In some cases, thousands of the same prints could be made from the printing blocks. In a bygone era, Woodblocks would slowly erode as more and more prints were made.
Basic Step-by-Step Guide
- The ukiyo-e sketches his design with samisen (ink lines).
- The horishi (carver) pastes his sketch on a block made of wild cherry wood and carves out a design.
- Other blocks are carved out in order from lighter to darker colours. These are called iroita (colour plates).
- The surishi (printer) applies colour on the blocks under the artist’s supervision.
- The printer uses the special markings on each block to ensure the colours don’t go out of place.
- The Printer presses the paper against each of the colour plates. Final gradations are added to give the finishing touch.