The original idea was to develop a method for students to take a digital photograph/image and make a multi-layer print using traditional woodcut printmaking methods. The goal was to use digital technologies to separate the photo into layers and use a CNC machine to carve the woodblocks.
After having the idea of using a CNC machine (computer programmed router) to cut woodblocks for printmaking (and making it much easier to create multi-layered prints), I did some research which led me to a Kansas City based artist named Mike Lyon http://mlyon.com/ . We ended up exchanging a few emails, which gave me the confidence that students would be capable of this work, and that it is not cheating, but in many ways, expands the learning opportunities exponentially. I’m grateful for his openness about his process and his support.
In the example shown (Mike Lyon’s “Rod”), the original image has been separated into 16 layers of “luminosity” using Adobe Photoshop (or similar) and then a reverse image woodblock was cut using a CNC router for each layer. Then each layer gets printed separately on a press using progressively darker shades of ink. The result is an ink print with photographic qualities.