Mokuhanga Fundamentals

Mokuhanga Fundamentals


Introduction Video




Fundamentals of Mokuhanga - a Comprehensive Online Workshop

Would you like to learn but don't have access to a teacher, or can't come to Japan? This workshop is perfect for you! This online workshop will give you an authentic foundation to create your own mokuhanga - Japanese woodblock print. 

I want to say how exceptional I thought your beginner on-line workshop is. I think you have really created something special.
- George Ledyard 2021

We can teach you authentic skills and knowledge from Japan in the comfort and safety of your own place. In this online workshop you will engage with the process from designing your own creation, transferring your design, carving, printing and editioning your first print. Whether you have created your own design or followed the one I’ve provided in this workshop, you will grasp the authentic fundamentals of Japanese woodblock printing.

This workshop is suitable for complete beginners through to experienced printmakers wanting to learn mokuhanga. If you already have some experience, or have attended one of our workshops or our Japan residencies, you can use units as you like to refresh your memory or answer some lingering questions.

Read more about the details below, and sign up to one of our subscriptions on this page.




I am so excited to share about this online program. If you are interested in learning this beautiful art form, Terry's thorough, thoughtful approach is just what every student dreams of
- Monique Wales 2020

Many thanks for putting together such an outstanding program online. There is no equal. Your attention to details and finer points are superb
- Dr Phil Jones 2020

This is an excellent course and very user friendly. Fantastic value at the price. I am very excited to have been able to access it, having done a weekend workshop with Terry previously. I'm loving the fact that I can rewatch the videos as many times as I like and really take my time understanding the procedure
- Jenny Kyng 2020


To take part in the workshop there are two membership options:

One Year Subscription - 



Three Month Subscription -



It's great value! ¥10,000 is only about $US95, €79 or $AU130! Less than a weekend workshop, and you will learn much more!

Each subscription gives you full access to the workshop materials. You can view all the tutorial videos as many times as you want, and download and keep the comprehensive notes for each unit.

Payment for the online workshop is through Paypal (a small fee is charged on top of the workshop cost) and you can enrol by subscription through the module on this page.


Why We Developed this Workshop

We started developing this workshop in September 2019, thinking about helping to reduce global emissions, and it is now a perfect resource for people to access during the current pandemic. Opening in early April 2020, we believe this is the first online workshop in mokuhanga available in the world and have made every effort to make it a valuable learning resource for printmakers and creative people from all over the world. We understand that it’s difficult for most people to find the time and resources to visit Japan to learn, and we’ve been asked many times to teach workshops in places where people cannot access mokuhanga teachers or resources. This online resource is for you!

We are currently working to extend the resources available here to more advanced techniques and processes that build your skills and knowledge, adding additional units and workshops. This workshop however covers the fundamental techniques in some detail which will be your starting point. With over fifty instruction videos, its easily the most comprehensive mokuhanga learning resource available. We are teaching and practicing “Sosaku hanga”, that is “Creative Print”. Although we share many of the same tools and techniques with Ukiyo-e practitioners, our focus is on the artist completing every stage themselves. There are some differences of technique that will be explained as we progress.


Workshop Units

The workshop has the following units, and each unit has a range of learning resources. Instruction videos of varying length give you instruction and guidance. You can watch an experienced practitioner on each step of the process. Comprehensive notes with photographs and diagrams are also available, as well as links to appropriate resources.


Mokuhanga Fundamentals Unit Descriptions

1 - Introduction

dampening paper

Unit 1- Introduction to Mokuhanga Fundamentals

Welcome to our online workshop – Mokuhanga Fundamentals!

We’ve put this workshop together to allow people from anywhere in the world to be able to study and learn mokuhanga, without having to travel to Japan, or to find workshops or teachers, which often are far away…

The whole process of making a woodblock print using traditional Japanese water-based printmaking technique had been broken down into step by step units. Each unit has a number of resources intended to suit a range of learning approaches. Although it is a technologically simple technique, there are a lot of small details to learn to achieve truly satisfying results.

In the introduction we will explain a little about the context of mokuhanga, both as a historic technique and as a contemporary practice, in Japan and elsewhere. This will give you a new understanding of mokuhanga, of Ukiyo-e when you see it, and a realistic expectation of what you might be able to achieve as a beginner.

We will also have a brief look at some contemporary practice, and talk about what materials and resources you will need to complete the workshop.



Video Resources


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Introduction   (Free to view - please click on the thumbnail)

Welcome and short explanation about the workshop.

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Workshop Oveview

An overview of the workshop, units involved and what you will need

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Mokuhanga Context

Explaining the traditional process and giving you a realistic expectation as a beginner,as well as showing some examples of sosaku hanga


Other Resources


What you will need to complete the workshop

Explanation of the basic requirements to complete the workshop.are included in the notes


Written Notes

Notes covering the resources


Materials Sources

List of suppliers and links to their websites. These are also included in the full notes.


YouTube videos of interest

Links to a variety of videos that you may find interesting.



When you are ready to begin, you should have your materials and tools ready, a better understanding of mokuhanga and how it was traditionally made, and what is taught in this workshop.

2 - Design and Transfer

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Unit 2- Design and Transfer of Your Image

Your design is the most important part of the whole process, after all you have been inspired to bring your image to life in the medium of mokuhanga. It is the art part of the process, where your idea is developed into a form that can them be turned into a woodblock print.


In this unit you will either use the design I’ve created for this workshop and follow along step by step, or create your own design using the instructions provided. You will then transfer the image to your woodblocks.





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What you will be doing and the items you will need.


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Creating your design

How to develop your inspiration into a design suitable for your first woodblock print project


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Making a Tracing

The procedure for tracing your design onto a suitable material.


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About Wood

An introduction to the types and characteristics of wood that you can use


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Transfer onto woodblocks

How to separate the colour areas onto different blocks of wood, in readiness to carve.


Other Resources



Process, Materials and Sources


Layout Options

Three starting points for your design, and the layout decisions that follow


Sample Design

Full scale sample of the design used in this workshop, if you want to use it



Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Created and refined your design, made an accurate tracing of the design and transferred the design to your woodblocks. The colours will be split onto different blocks and be ready for carving.

3 - First Stage of Carving

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Unit 3 – The first Stage of Carving

This first stage of carving defines the printing areas for each block, so accuracy is important. Of all the carving, this is the most important as it defines what you will see in your print.


In this unit you will learn to use the knife tool in the Sosaku-hanga technique to outline and define each of the printing areas. You will learn to work accurately and efficiently to achieve a good result that will produce a clear and defined print.





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What you will be doing and the items you will need.


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Introduction to Tools

A brief introduction to carving tools specific to woodblock printmaking, covering quality and variety


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Carving Outlines Demonstration

Showing the procedure for carving outlines accurately with the knife tool.


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About the 45-degree cut

A whiteboard style video about the reason and importance of the 45-degree cut.


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About small areas and lines

A whiteboard style video about technique cutting around small details or lines


Other Resources



Notes and information about tools


Carving Outlines

Notes about the procedure of carving outlines



Sharpening tools - a few notes


Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Carved a small “v” by knife around each of your colour areas, so the boards will be ready for the next stage of carving.

4 - Second Stage of Carving

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Unit 4- Clearing Channels

The purpose of carving the blocks is to make them good for printing and this stage is important in that clearance is created around the printing areas.


In this unit each colour area will have a clear area carved around it to provide clearance between the paper and pigment. This ensures a clean and crisp print without unwanted marks. The shape of the channel around each colour is different for every colour and block, however a consistent width and depth is achieved without excess work.





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What you will be doing and the items you will need.


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An introduction to gouges, the main tool we will be using for this stage.


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Clearing – How to do this stage

An instruction video covering the techniques used, the width and depth of the channels needed and other tips.


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Fast Motion of the process

See the whole process of one of the blocks in a fast motion video only 2 minutes long.


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The Channels

Explaination of the channels, and what profile to aim for



Process, Materials and Sources


Make a Bench Hook

Plan and instructions to make your own bench hook


About Wood Grain

Note about wood grain, and how it is in plywood

Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Created a tidy channel around each colour area with the right depth and width. Each block will have a slightly different shape determined by the shape of the colour area.

5 - Smoothing and Kentou


Unit 5 – Smoothing Channels and Kentou

In this final stage of our carving we will prepare the carved block for printing. These are only a few steps but nevertheless important for successful printing. What we do in this stage reduces unwanted embossing marks from the printing process and gives us accurate registration.


We will smooth off the outer edges of the channels we carved in the previous unit. With the same tool we will also skim ridges in the channel. Then we will cut the kentou (registration notches).





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What we will be doing and the tools you will need to use


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How to use the tools to achieve a good result, and understanding the level of smoothness required for trouble free printing


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How to cut the kentou accurately



Notes on the process and tools required


Picture Note

Cutting kentou


Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Clean and smooth channels around each of your colour areas and each block will have kentou accurately cut.

6 - Paper

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Unit 6 - Paper

Paper, as the foundation material of the print itself, naturally is quite important. Understanding which paper to use for your project, and how to prepare it properly, is one of the keys to success in mokuhanga.


In this unit we will gain an understanding of washi (Japanese paper), why it is suprior for this technique, what types are available and what to look for when you are choosing and buying paper.





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About this unit and what we will cover.


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Understanding washi – Japanese paper, the differences to Western papers, and what paper is suitable


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Cutting Paper

How to measure and cut your paper in preparation for your project


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Dampening Paper

The procedure for dampening paper in preparation for printing



About paper, choosing the right paper, washi vs paper, and where to buy it


Getting the best use of full sheets

Note about measuring and using sheets economically


Other resources

Links to some useful videos, books


Where to buy Washi

Information on where to buy washi, either online or when you are visiting Japan


Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

An understanding of what paper is suitable to use for your project, have it cut to size and ready to print with

7 - Preparation for Printing

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Unit 7- Preparation for Printing

In this unit we will explain the different tools and materials used for mokuhanga printing. Each type of tool and material has its own video, which allows you to quickly revise. We will spend some time mixing colours and nori, the two ingredients for printing. We will also set up the table ready for printing.


You will gain a working understanding of the tools and materials for mokuhanga printing and how to set up your printing area for working efficiently.





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Introduction to this unit and what you will need.


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Explanation of brushes, the different types available and how to select what you need.


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Explanation of baren, different types available and which is suitable for the work you are doing.


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Brief explanation of the types of pigment / colours to use in mokuhanga


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About nori (starch paste) and how to prepare it.


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Mixing Colours

Guide to mixing colours, ready for printing.


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Set up your Printing Area

How to set up your printing area with the items you will need.


Other resources



Notes covering the content of this unit.


Care of Baren

Note about caring for traditional baren.


Make your own nori

Instructions for making your own nori.


Before progressing to the next step, you should have...

Mixed your colours, be well set up and have your baren and brushes selected. Before printing you should have already dampened your paper.

8 - Basic Printing

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Unit 8- Basic Printing

Finally, we will actually start printing! It’s exciting to see some result for all the hard work we’ve done so far. This unit will introduce the printing process and how to overcome some common problems. In reality, consistent high-quality printing takes a lot of practice to master. This proof print is an essential step on the way to produce a final edition.


In this unit we will go through the process of producing a series of proof prints, making improvements and adjustments in order to have everything right to produce an edition of our print. While doing this you will learn the printing process including how to make bokashi.





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About this unit, what you will need and what we will do.


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Getting Ready

Making sure you have everything ready to go.


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Printing your First Proof

Taking you through the printing process, colour by colour to make your first proof print.


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Simple Bokashi

Introduce the bokashi printing effect (graduation or fade) and learning a simple way to add it to our proof.


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Printing Problems

Looking at some of the problems you will have encountered in printing and how to overcome them.


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Making improvements to our blocks to reduce some typical problems.


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Adjusting Colours & Second Proof

Making adjustments to improve the colours then producing a second proof print.


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Washing Brushes

How to wash your brushes to extend their working life.


Other Resources



Notes covering the content of this unit.


Print Cycle

Picture note explaining the print cycle.


Top Tips for Beginners

Picture note with some tips.


Balance in Printing

Note about balancing the different aspects of printing.


Clean your Brushes

How to clean your brushes.


Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Made your proof print, corrected mistakes and weaknesses and then produced a second proof print. With these corrections you will be able to now produce your edition in the next unit.

9 - Printing Your Edition

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Unit 9 – Printing Your Edition

Printing an edition of your work is the final stage of production. You have solved the various problems with carving and printing and are now ready to make a valuable edition of your mokuhanga.


In this unit we will go through the process of printing your edition. The printing procedure is the same and there are some extra considerations, especially around managing the moisture level in your paper. This time we will be using washi, which is a lot more responsive and beautiful.





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Briefly, what we will be doing in this unit.


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Adjusting Paper Moisture

Checking the moisture level in your washi, and making some adjustments if needed.


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Printing the Edition

The process of printing the edition, with extra consideration about maintaining balance as we proceed.


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Drying your Prints

An effective and simple way to dry your prints flat.


Other Resources



The content of this unit.


Managing Moisture in the Paper

Picture note with tips about managing moisture.



Picture note with two methods about drying your prints.


Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Produced your first limited edition of mokuhanga and have them drying.

10 - Key Block

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Unit 10 - Key Block

Carving a key block gives you outlines or fine details that can help define your image. Usually in Ukiyo-e this is the first stage, however for Sosaku hanga it may not even be necessary, and for beginners is certainly difficult and frustrating. We’ve included this at the end to further develop your skills. Most student’s have this in their original idea so it is included here.


To add a line or detail block to you image, we will use our original tracing and carve a whole new block. This can be printed on our existing print, or on a whole new edition.





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About the key block and what we will cover in this unit.

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Hints and Tactics.

Some hints and tactics for carving to achieve good results in shina

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About carving the block and demonstrating the above hints.

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Some directions for clearing the channels, particular to the key block

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Printing has a slightly different approach, and this video explains how to progress, either as a new print or on your existing print.

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Repairing a Block

Showing you how to repair a section that has broken away, or been carved away by mistake.

This can be used on colour blocks as well.




Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Transferred, carved and printed your key block.

11 - Gomazuri

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Unit 11 - Gomazuri

Gomazuri is a versatile printing technique that can be used with existing colour blocks or purpose carved blocks. It enhances your image with subtle patterned effects and enriches your image.


We will learn how to successfully print this technique, which uses the same tools and materials, but in a different way. We will add it to your existing work, or begin a new edition including this technique and understand when and where to use it in your mokuhanga.





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About gomazuri and when to use it

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Printing Technique

How to print existing colour blocks with this technique and get the best result.



Content of this unit


Before progressing to the next step, you should have…

Successfully printed one or more blocks with gomazuri technique

12 - Next Steps


Unit 12- Next Steps

This is the conclusion of the Mokuhanga Fundamentals online workshop. You will have gained an understanding of the fundamental tools, materials and processes of producing your own creative work in this medium.


We hope to encourage you to use what you’ve gained and make new work. Practice and repetition are the key to building your skills and mastering this technique.





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Thank you, conclusion and encouragement to keep going with mokuhanga. Some next steps you could take to make progress.



Notes of this unit’s content



Thank you, and we hope you have enjoyed this online workshop.


Sourcing Materials During the Covid Pandemic

Global supply systems have unfortunately been disrupted and it is difficult to buy direct from Japan for many countries. This article has some suggestions for sourcing suitable tools and materials in your own country.


Get the best use of your Online Workshop

Some hints and advice for getting the best use of your workshop subscription - Article is here


Mokuhanga Fundamentals Manual

Would you like to get the information without committing to the workshop? You can purchase and download this comprehensive PDF E-book that covers the content of the online workshop, and more. The book gives a comprehensive step by step guide of the process, the tools used and advice and tips to get the best results.

Now available - The Real Book!

This is a stand alone guide to mokuhanga, a great addition to your library, and we believe the best practical guide made available to date. You can find the download in our online shop, by clicking the link below.

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Mokuhanga Fundamentals - Core Skills to Successfully Make your First Japanese Woodblock Prints

by Terry McKenna

E-Book Price ¥2,500 Printed Book Price ¥3,080

Purchase E-Book Here

Purchase Printed Book Here




Want to see what's in the manual? View Free sample here : Look Inside

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The sample includes the list of contents, first page of the introduction and several pages of the tools chapter.



Beginner's Kits

We have put together a kit of tools and materials with which you can complete* your initial project. There are three options:

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The tools and materials you need, with an inexpensive baren.


The same materials but with a better baren and carving tool kit.


The same materials with a Sosaku Sumi bamboo baren, kentou chisel and additional hake.


*Gouache and starch glue (our printing colours) are not included, you can easily source these at your local art supplies.

Mokuhanga Fundamentals Plans

Mokuhanga Fundamentals 1 Year

Enjoy full access to all workshop materials for the entire year. Take your time and view resources as many times as you like.

 - Tutorial Videos & Workshop Notes & Resource Links & Updates

If you wish to subscribe for another year, you can.

Duration: 1 year
Price: ¥10,000
Mokuhanga Fundamentals 3 Months

Enjoy full access to all workshop materials for a three month period. Learn how to make mokuhanga as you step though the units.

 - Tutorial Videos & Workshop Notes & Resource Links & Updates

If you wish to subscribe for more, you can upgrade to a one year subcription.

Duration: 3 months
Price: ¥6,000
Mokuhanga Fundamentals Universities

This membership is for Universities and Pritnmaking Departments to sign up groups of students. Maximum of 20 students can join the group.

- Tutorial Videos & Workshop Notes & Resource Links & Updates

- Access for four months, long enough for a training unit of 16 weeks.

The group can be managed by a lecturor / teacher through our website.

If students wish to privately subscribe for one year, or to renew, after the term they can do so easily.

Duration: 4 months
Price: ¥7,000

Mokuhanga Fundamentals Log In

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