How To Quickly Dry Your Lino Prints

Cover image: How To Quickly Dry Your Lino Prints

Lino printing is a popular form of printmaking where the artist creates a stampOpens in a new tab. by carving a pattern out of linoleum, rubber, or vinyl. Once the artist etches the design onto the material, the stamp is covered in ink and pressed to paper, fabric, or glass, making a print. 

Lino prints use two types of ink: oil-based and water-based. These inks both have benefits and drawbacks, and to be adequately sealed, you should cover both with a varnish. Before varnish can be applied, however, you must thoroughly and entirely dry the ink of the print.

How To Quickly Dry Your Lino Prints

To quickly dry your lino prints, make sure your print is in a dry environment and there’s good air circulation. Oil-based inks take much longer to dry than water-based inks. You can use driers to make oil-based inks dry faster.

There are several techniques you can use to speed up the drying process. This article looks at the different types of ink, discusses the pros and cons of each, and explores the most effective ways to dry your prints quickly. 

How to Dry Oil Based Inks in Lino Prints

Successfully drying oil-based inks requires specific environmental conditions. Before employing any other methods or techniques to speed up dry times, make sure you’ve created optimal conditions for your ink to set.

The room needs to be dry and warm. Humidity slows dry time considerably, so avoid it at all costs. Consider using a dehumidifier to eliminate any extra moisture in the air. 

Once you have created an optimal environment, use the following techniques to dry your oil-based ink in the least time:

  • Hang your prints: Use a clothesline or any overhead tension wire to suspend projects.
  • Use a fan: Fans help with circulation and airflow and speed up the drying time considerably.
  • Use thin layer: Thicker layers of paint take longer to dry. Thin layers dry quickly. 
  • Underpaint: Use acrylic paint as a base layer on your canvas. Acrylic paint dries very quickly, and then you won’t need to use as many layers of slow-drying oil-based inksOpens in a new tab..

Dry every layer of paint entirely before you varnish your project.  

Drying Times For Different Colored Inks for Lino Print

Printers who want to reap the benefits of oil-based inks without waiting a week for them to dry can utilize certain tricks to speed up the setting process. However, different colors dry at different times, so before picking which drying method is best for your project, consider the individual drying times for each oil-based ink color. 

You may want to use one of the more rapid drying inks for projects that are on a tighter deadline.

Here’s a breakdown of which colors take how long to dry:

  • Fastest drying speed. These oil-based ink colors take about two days to dry and include Mauve, Cobalt Blue, Prussian Blue, Raw Sienna, and Umber.
  • Medium drying speed. These inks take about five days to dry. They include Winsor Blue, Winsor Green, Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Violet, Cobalt Green, Ultramarine Blue, Mars colors, Sap Green, Alizarin Crimson, Ochres, Cadmiums, Lamp Black, and Ivory Black.
  • Slowest drying speed. These inks take more than five days to set: Winsor yellow, Winsor Orange, Quinacridones, Titanium White, and Zinc White.

Any of these colors dry more quickly if you mix driers into them. 

Using Driers for Linocut Prints

Oil-based inks all include driers of some sort. However, you can add additional liquid driers to speed up the setting time even more.

A small amount of drier can have a profound impact on drying time—often drying ink overnight. Driers are extremely noxious, so always wear gloves when using them and keep them away from kids. Also, be sure to clean drier-thinned inks off of stamps quickly, or they will stain your pattern. 

Driers come in two varieties:

  • Manganese Driers – These driers set every layer evenly.
  • Cobalt Driers – Cobalt driers work from the surface down, drying the top layer first.

Handle both driers carefully, as they are only removable with potent solvents.

How to Dry Water-Based Inks when doing Linocut Prints

Because water-based inks are also water-soluble, they are more likely to smear. You will want to dry them quickly. While these inks dry swiftly on their own, you can expedite the process.

Water-based inks dry through evaporation, so heat is key to faster drying. Dry your prints in a warm room-consider turning the temperature up a few degrees. Use a hairdryer on a medium heat setting to speed up evaporation. You can also use a heat gun to remove the water from your project slowly. 

Water-Based vs Oil-Based Inks for Linocut Prints

Most artists prefer to work with oil-based inksOpens in a new tab. over their water-based competitors. Oil-based inks are mixes of either petroleum or vegetable oils and large amounts of pigment. These inks dry by oxidation instead of evaporation, meaning ink hardens when it’s hit by air.

Oil-based inks take quite a while to dry—anywhere between a day to an entire week. However, they have many advantages for artists.

One of them is having long lifespan. Because they take longer to dry, oil-based inks remain malleable and workable for long periods of time. You don’t need to rush with oil-based inks, since they take longer to dry. 

Oil-based inks also have vivid colors, providing better coverage. They also pop on darker colored papers.

Lastly, Oil-based inks last for a long time when stored in properly sealed containers. 

While less popular among artists, water-based inks dry considerably faster than oil-based ones. The water-based option is made of water, pigment, and a binding agent. Besides having less vivid colors, these inks also dry out relatively quickly. That said, water-based inks have certain benefits, including:

  • Fast drying time: Water-based inks usually dry in about twenty minutes.
  • Cleanup: Water-based inks wash off easily with simple soap and water.
  • Price: Water-based inks are relatively inexpensive—a distinct advantage for student artists still figuring out the craft.
IceandseaOpens in a new tab.

Final Words

Both water and oil-based inks work effectively for lino prints. Each type of ink has benefits and drawbacks. More experienced artists prefer oil-based inks, while water-based inks provide students with a valuable learning medium. Whichever ink you choose will dry faster in a warm, dry environment. Utilizing the proper techniques helps dry your projects quickly and beautifully. 


Was this article helpful?


Caraca's self-taught artist based in the UK, Ines explores unconventional materials and sustainability.

Recent Posts