Next, the key block, or “omohan” in Japanese, is an essential component of a Japanese woodblock print. It is a wooden block that is used to print the outlines and main details of the image onto the paper. The key block is typically the first block to be carved, and is used as a guide for carving the subsequent color blocks.
The key block is made by transferring the artist’s design onto a piece of wood, typically cherry or magnolia, and carving away the areas that will not receive ink. The lines and details on the key block are then inked and printed onto the paper, creating the basic structure and composition of the image.
Once the key block has been printed, additional blocks are carved and printed to add color and shading to the image. Each color requires a separate block, with areas of the block being carved away to create different shades and textures.
The key block is an important part of the woodblock printmaking process, as it sets the foundation for the image and guides the carving and printing of the subsequent color blocks. Without the key block, it would be difficult to achieve the precision and detail that is characteristic of Japanese woodblock prints