A relief print is made by taking an impression of a matrix on which only the raised surface of the matrix has been inked. Any part of the block that the artist wishes not to print is carved away using a cutting tool.

The most common material used in the workshop is linoleum or the linocut technique. Woodcuts are made using harder materials such as boxwood, pine, birch and MDF. Artists have explored a variety of materials that can be carved, including rubber, plaster casts, styrofoam and plastics. Any material could be considered as long as it can pass safely through a printing press. Relief surfaces can also be printed by hand, and print best on absorbent surfaces such as paper, card and fabric.