Project 2: Lino Cut and Print

Title: The Bicentennial of Singapore


In 2019, Singapore will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the founding of modern Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819. The Merlion is a representation of Singapore’s past, present and future. The fish tail represents Singapore’s humble past as a fishing village which reflects her hardworking nature and serves as a good reminder of not forsaking such a trait in present Singapore. The lion head represents strength and bravery for present Singapore despite the challenges faced as a small nation.  The head of the Lion is looking forward towards a future where Singapore continues to remain strong and courageous even in tackling complex issues.


Elements/Design Principles used:

First Frame

The main element used was lines. Thicker lines were used to outline the Merlion with slightly curve and incomplete lines were used to represent the lion’s mane. Thicker curve lines were carved to outline the direction of the waves while thinner lines were hatched in between the thicker curves to increase the energy of the waves (rough waves). The rough waves represents the complex issues Singapore is currently facing and would face in the future. In additional, adding more hatch lines in the waves creates a whiter space around the Merlion’s head. This increases the contrast and creates an emphasis on the Merlion’s head. Small cuts were used in the Singapore flyer that give off a texture that makes the Ferris wheel seem like it’s rotating.

The rules of thirds is used in the composition of the various elements. The city silhouette occupies 1/3 of the frame and are drawn smaller in scale to further emphasize the Merlion’s head. The space on the right of the merlion creates a leading room that makes the Merlion seem as though its looking forward into a distance (future).

Second Frame

The Merlion’s body and tail has more lines craved into the linopad to create the textures and scales of a typical fish body and tail. The waves are just made up of curve lines and are left intentionally darker to create a bigger contrast with the Merlion’s body and tail. This also portrays a stark contrast between the troubles Singapore faced in the past as compared to the present. Horizontal lines were used to create wooden textures of the kampong houses and fishing boats. Thin cross lines were used to represent grass.

The rules of thirds is also used in the composition of the various elements. The foreground occupies 1/3 of the frame whereas the Merlion’s body and tail was carved significantly larger than the kampong (foreground) so as to make it the focal point.

The principle of asymmetry is used between both frames to create a balance when both frames are combined.


Challenges faced: 

1. Trouble visualizing textures:

For example, it was challenging to visualize the method for carving waves in respect to determining which parts of the waves are black and white.

2. Being new to lino cutting, there were difficulties in controlling the amount of strength used when craving the linopad. This was extremely crucial when it comes to craving smaller and detailed parts of the frame. Over cutting due to excessive strength is detrimental since once the linopad is craved, that area will be white when printed. Thus, it was important to crave with patience and precision.


Key Takeaways:

  1. Learning a new skill of lino cutting. Contrary to what I thought would be a stressful assignment, the process of lino cutting was in fact quite therapeutic. I enjoyed the process of craving and seeing the created prints.
  2. Learning how to compose a frame that is aesthetically pleasing. Not only can this be used in art,  it is also useful in design and  photography.