Printmaking

Printmaking

Overview

Printmaking is the process of making artwork
Work of art
A work of art, artwork, art piece, or art object is an aesthetic item or artistic creation.The term "a work of art" can apply to:*an example of fine art, such as a painting or sculpture*a fine work of architecture or landscape design...

s by printing
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

, normally on paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

. Printmaking normally covers only the process of creating prints with an element of originality, rather than just being a photographic reproduction of a painting. Except in the case of monotyping
Monotyping
Monotyping is a type of printmaking made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. The surface, or matrix, was historically a copper etching plate, but in contemporary work it can vary from zinc or glass to acrylic glass. The image is then transferred onto a sheet of paper by...

, the process is capable of producing multiples of the same piece, which is called a 'print'. Each piece produced is not a copy but considered an original since it is not a reproduction of another work of art and is technically (more correctly) known as an 'impression'.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Printmaking'
Start a new discussion about 'Printmaking'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia

Printmaking is the process of making artwork
Work of art
A work of art, artwork, art piece, or art object is an aesthetic item or artistic creation.The term "a work of art" can apply to:*an example of fine art, such as a painting or sculpture*a fine work of architecture or landscape design...

s by printing
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

, normally on paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

. Printmaking normally covers only the process of creating prints with an element of originality, rather than just being a photographic reproduction of a painting. Except in the case of monotyping
Monotyping
Monotyping is a type of printmaking made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. The surface, or matrix, was historically a copper etching plate, but in contemporary work it can vary from zinc or glass to acrylic glass. The image is then transferred onto a sheet of paper by...

, the process is capable of producing multiples of the same piece, which is called a 'print'. Each piece produced is not a copy but considered an original since it is not a reproduction of another work of art and is technically (more correctly) known as an 'impression'. Printmaking (other than monotyping) is not chosen only for its ability to produce multiple copies, but rather for the unique qualities that each of the printmaking processes lends itself to.

Prints are created by transferring ink from a matrix
Matrix (printing)
In hot metal typesetting, a matrix is a mold for casting a letter, known as a sort, used in letterpress printing....

 or through a prepared screen to a sheet of paper or other material. Common types of matrices include: metal plates, usually copper or zinc, or polymer plates for engraving
Engraving
Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing...

 or etching
Etching
Etching is the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio in the metal...

; stone, aluminum, or polymer for lithography
Lithography
Lithography is a method for printing using a stone or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface...

; blocks of wood for woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

s and wood engraving
Wood engraving
Wood engraving is a technique in printmaking where the "matrix" worked by the artist is a block of wood. It is a variety of woodcut and so a relief printing technique, where ink is applied to the face of the block and printed by using relatively low pressure. A normal engraving, like an etching,...

s; and linoleum for linocut
Linocut
Linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum is used for the relief surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a sharp knife, V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the raised areas representing a reversal of the parts to show printed...

s. Screens made of silk or synthetic fabrics are used for the screenprinting
Screen-printing
Screen printing is a printing technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil. The attached stencil forms open areas of mesh that transfer ink or other printable materials which can be pressed through the mesh as a sharp-edged image onto a substrate...

 process. Other types of matrix substrates and related processes are discussed below.

Multiple impressions printed from the same matrix form an edition
Edition
In printmaking, an edition is a number of prints struck from one plate, usually at the same time. This is the meaning covered by this article...

. Since the late 19th century, artists have generally signed individual impressions from an edition and often number the impressions to form a limited edition
Edition
In printmaking, an edition is a number of prints struck from one plate, usually at the same time. This is the meaning covered by this article...

. Prints may also be printed in book form, such as illustrated books or artist's books.

Overview


Printmaking techniques are generally divided into the following basic categories:
  • Relief
    Relief print
    A relief print is an image created by a printmaking process where protruding surface faces of the matrix are inked; recessed areas are ink free. Printing the image is therefore a relatively simple matter of inking the face of the matrix and bringing it in firm contact with the paper...

    , where ink is applied to the original surface of the matrix. Relief techniques include: woodcut
    Woodcut
    Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

     or woodblock
    Woodblock printing
    Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper....

     as the Asian forms are usually known, wood engraving
    Wood engraving
    Wood engraving is a technique in printmaking where the "matrix" worked by the artist is a block of wood. It is a variety of woodcut and so a relief printing technique, where ink is applied to the face of the block and printed by using relatively low pressure. A normal engraving, like an etching,...

    , linocut
    Linocut
    Linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum is used for the relief surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a sharp knife, V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the raised areas representing a reversal of the parts to show printed...

     and metalcut
    Metalcut
    Metalcut is a relief printmaking technique, belonging to the category of old master prints. It was almost entirely restricted to the period from about 1450 to 1540, and mostly to the region around the Rhine in Northern Europe, the Low Countries, Germany, France and Switzerland; the technique...

    ;
  • Intaglio
    Intaglio (printmaking)
    Intaglio is a family of printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface, known as the matrix or plate, and the incised line or area holds the ink. Normally, copper or zinc plates are used as a surface, and the incisions are created by etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint or...

    , where ink is applied beneath the original surface of the matrix. Intaglio techniques include: engraving
    Engraving
    Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing...

    , etching
    Etching
    Etching is the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio in the metal...

    , mezzotint
    Mezzotint
    Mezzotint is a printmaking process of the intaglio family, technically a drypoint method. It was the first tonal method to be used, enabling half-tones to be produced without using line- or dot-based techniques like hatching, cross-hatching or stipple...

    , aquatint
    Aquatint
    Aquatint is an intaglio printmaking technique, a variant of etching.Intaglio printmaking makes marks on the matrix that are capable of holding ink. The inked plate is passed through a printing press together with a sheet of paper, resulting in a transfer of the ink to the paper...

    , where the matrix retains its original surface, but is specially prepared and/or inked to allow for the transfer of the image. Planographic techniques include: lithography
    Lithography
    Lithography is a method for printing using a stone or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface...

    , monotyping
    Monotyping
    Monotyping is a type of printmaking made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. The surface, or matrix, was historically a copper etching plate, but in contemporary work it can vary from zinc or glass to acrylic glass. The image is then transferred onto a sheet of paper by...

    , and digital techniques.
  • Stencil
    Stencil
    A stencil is a thin sheet of material, such as paper, plastic, or metal, with letters or a design cut from it, used to produce the letters or design on an underlying surface by applying pigment through the cut-out holes in the material. The key advantage of a stencil is that it can be reused to...

    , where ink or paint is pressed through a prepared screen, including: screenprinting
    Screen-printing
    Screen printing is a printing technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil. The attached stencil forms open areas of mesh that transfer ink or other printable materials which can be pressed through the mesh as a sharp-edged image onto a substrate...

     and pochoir


Other types of printmaking techniques outside these groups include collagraphy, viscosity printing, and foil imaging
Foil imaging
Foil imaging is a revolutionary printmaking technique developed at the University of Iowa by Professor Virginia A. Myers, with student research teams, in the late twentieth century. Enabled by the invention of the hand-held Iowa Foil Printer , it is a new art form derived from the commercial...

. Collagraphy is a printmaking technique in which textured material is adhered to the printing matrix. This texture is transferred to the paper during the printing process. Contemporary printmaking may include digital printing
Digital printing
Digital printing refers to methods of printing from a digital based image directly to a variety of media. It usually refers to professional printing where small run jobs from desktop publishing and other digital sources are printed using large format and/or high volume laser or inkjet printers...

, photographic mediums, or a combination of digital, photographic, and traditional processes.

Many of these techniques can also be combined, especially within the same family. For example Rembrandt's prints are usually referred to as "etchings" for convenience, but very often include work in engraving and drypoint as well, and sometimes have no etching at all.

Woodcut


Woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

, a type of relief print
Relief print
A relief print is an image created by a printmaking process where protruding surface faces of the matrix are inked; recessed areas are ink free. Printing the image is therefore a relatively simple matter of inking the face of the matrix and bringing it in firm contact with the paper...

, is the earliest printmaking technique, and the only one traditionally used in the Far East. It was probably first developed as a means of printing patterns on cloth, and by the 5th century was used in China for printing text and images on paper. Woodcuts of images on paper developed around 1400 in Europe, and slightly later in Japan. These are the two areas where woodcut has been most extensively used purely as a process for making images without text.

The artist
Artist
An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts and/or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only...

 draws a design on a plank of wood
Wood
Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...

, or on paper which is transferred to the wood. Traditionally the artist then handed the work to a specialist cutter, who then uses sharp tools to carve away the parts of the block that will not receive ink. The surface of the block is then inked with the use of a brayer
Brayer
A brayer is a hand roller used in printmaking techniques to spread ink in the process of offsetting an image from a plate to paper.-Materials:...

, and then a sheet of paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

, perhaps slightly damp, is placed over the block. The block is then rubbed with a baren
Baren
Baren is a Japanese hand tool used in printmaking processes such as woodcut or lino cut.The baren is a disk like device with a flat bottom and on the reverse side, a knotted handle...

 or spoon
Spoon
A spoon is a utensil consisting of a small shallow bowl, oval or round, at the end of a handle. A type of cutlery , especially as part of a place setting, it is used primarily for serving. Spoons are also used in food preparation to measure, mix, stir and toss ingredients...

, or is run through a printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

. If in color, separate blocks can be used for each color
Color
Color or colour is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors...

,or a technique called reduction printing can be used.

Reduction printing is a name used to describe the process of using one block to print several layers of color
Color
Color or colour is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors...

 on one print. This usually involves cutting a small amount of the block away, and then printing the block many times over on different sheets before washing the block, cutting more away and printing the next color
Color
Color or colour is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors...

 on top. This allows the previous color
Color
Color or colour is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue and others. Color derives from the spectrum of light interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors...

 to show through. This process can be repeated many times over. The advantages of this process is that only one block is needed, and that different components of an intricate design will line up perfectly. The disadvantage is that once the artist moves on to the next layer, no more prints can be made.

Another variation of woodcut printmaking is the cukil technique, made famous by the Taring Padi
Taring Padi
Taring Padi is a community of underground artists in Bantul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. They formed in 1998 during the general upheaval following the fall of Suharto....

 underground community in Java, Indonesia. Taring Padi Posters usually resemble intricately printed cartoon posters embedded with political messages. Images—usually resembling a visually complex scenario—are carved unto a wooden surface called cukilan, then smothered with printer's ink before pressing it unto media such as paper or canvas.

Engraving


The process was developed in Germany in the 1430s from the engraving used by goldsmith
Goldsmith
A goldsmith is a metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals. Since ancient times the techniques of a goldsmith have evolved very little in order to produce items of jewelry of quality standards. In modern times actual goldsmiths are rare...

s to decorate metalwork. Engravers use a hardened steel tool called a burin  to cut the design into the surface of a metal plate, traditionally made of copper. Engraving using a burin is generally a difficult skill to learn.

Gravers come in a variety of shapes and sizes that yield different line types. The burin produces a unique and recognizable quality of line that is characterized by its steady, deliberate appearance and clean edges. Other tools such as mezzotint rockers, roulets and burnishers are used for texturing effects.

To make a print, the engraved plate is inked all over, then the ink is wiped off the surface, leaving only ink in the engraved lines. The plate is then put through a high-pressure printing press together with a sheet of paper (often moistened to soften it). The paper picks up the ink from the engraved lines, making a print. The process can be repeated many times; typically several hundred impressions (copies) could be printed before the printing plate shows much sign of wear, except when drypoint
Drypoint
Drypoint is a printmaking technique of the intaglio family, in which an image is incised into a plate with a hard-pointed "needle" of sharp metal or diamond point. Traditionally the plate was copper, but now acetate, zinc, or plexiglas are also commonly used...

, which gives much shallower lines, is used.

In the 20th century, true engraving was revived as a serious art form by artists including Stanley William Hayter
Stanley William Hayter
Stanley William Hayter , CBE was a British painter and printmaker associated in the 1930s with Surrealism and from 1940 onward with Abstract Expressionism. Regarded as one of the most significant printmakers of the 20th century, in 1927 Hayter founded the legendary Atelier 17 studio in Paris...

.

Etching


Etching
Etching
Etching is the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio in the metal...

is part of the intaglio
Intaglio (printmaking)
Intaglio is a family of printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface, known as the matrix or plate, and the incised line or area holds the ink. Normally, copper or zinc plates are used as a surface, and the incisions are created by etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint or...

 family (along with engraving
Engraving
Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing...

, drypoint
Drypoint
Drypoint is a printmaking technique of the intaglio family, in which an image is incised into a plate with a hard-pointed "needle" of sharp metal or diamond point. Traditionally the plate was copper, but now acetate, zinc, or plexiglas are also commonly used...

, mezzotint
Mezzotint
Mezzotint is a printmaking process of the intaglio family, technically a drypoint method. It was the first tonal method to be used, enabling half-tones to be produced without using line- or dot-based techniques like hatching, cross-hatching or stipple...

, and aquatint
Aquatint
Aquatint is an intaglio printmaking technique, a variant of etching.Intaglio printmaking makes marks on the matrix that are capable of holding ink. The inked plate is passed through a printing press together with a sheet of paper, resulting in a transfer of the ink to the paper...

.) The process is believed to have been invented by Daniel Hopfer
Daniel Hopfer
Daniel Hopfer was a German artist who is widely believed to have been the first to use etching in printmaking, at the end of the fifteenth century...

 (circa 1470-1536) of Augsburg, Germany, who decorated armour in this way, and applied the method to printmaking. Etching soon came to challenge engraving as the most popular printmaking medium. Its great advantage was that, unlike engraving which requires special skill in metalworking, etching is relatively easy to learn for an artist trained in drawing.


Etching prints are generally linear and often contain fine detail and contours. Lines can vary from smooth to sketchy. An etching is opposite of a woodcut in that the raised portions of an etching remain blank while the crevices hold ink. In pure etching, a metal (usually copper, zinc or steel) plate is covered with a waxy or acrylic ground. The artist then draws through the ground with a pointed etching needle. The exposed metal lines are then etched by dipping the plate in a bath of etchant (e.g. nitric acid
Nitric acid
Nitric acid , also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid.Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming...

 or ferric chloride). The etchant "bites" into the exposed metal, leaving behind lines in the plate. The remaining ground is then cleaned off the plate, and the printing process is then just the same as for engraving.

Artists using this technique include Albrecht Dürer
Albrecht Dürer
Albrecht Dürer was a German painter, printmaker, engraver, mathematician, and theorist from Nuremberg. His prints established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties, and he has been conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance ever since...

, Rembrandt, Francisco Goya
Francisco Goya
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was a Spanish romantic painter and printmaker regarded both as the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns. Goya was a court painter to the Spanish Crown, and through his works was both a commentator on and chronicler of his era...

, Whistler, Otto Dix
Otto Dix
Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix was a German painter and printmaker, noted for his ruthless and harshly realistic depictions of Weimar society and the brutality of war. Along with George Grosz, he is widely considered one of the most important artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit.-Early life and...

, James Ensor
James Ensor
James Sidney Edouard, Baron Ensor was a Flemish-Belgian painter and printmaker, an important influence on expressionism and surrealism who lived in Ostend for almost his entire life...

, Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper was a prominent American realist painter and printmaker. While most popularly known for his oil paintings, he was equally proficient as a watercolorist and printmaker in etching...

, Käthe Kollwitz
Käthe Kollwitz
Käthe Kollwitz was a German painter, printmaker, and sculptor whose work offered an eloquent and often searing account of the human condition in the first half of the 20th century...

, Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

, Cy Twombly
Cy Twombly
Edwin Parker "Cy" Twombly, Jr. was an American artist well known for his large-scale, freely scribbled, calligraphic-style graffiti paintings, on solid fields of mostly gray, tan, or off-white colors...

, Lucas van Leyden
Lucas van Leyden
Lucas van Leyden , also named either Lucas Hugensz or Lucas Jacobsz, was a Dutch engraver and painter, born and mainly active in Leiden...

, Carlos Alvarado Lang
Carlos Alvarado Lang
Carlos Alvarado Lang was a Mexican printmaker.Alvarado Lang studied printmaking under Emiliano Valadéz at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. In 1929 he followed Emiliano Valadéz on his chair. After the course offer of the ENBA was expanded in 1930, he got the chair of engraving...

.

Mezzotint



An intaglio
Intaglio (printmaking)
Intaglio is a family of printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface, known as the matrix or plate, and the incised line or area holds the ink. Normally, copper or zinc plates are used as a surface, and the incisions are created by etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint or...

 variant of engraving in which the image is formed from subtle gradations of light and shade. Mezzotint—from the Italian mezzo ("half") and tinta ("tone")--is a "dark manner" form of printmaking, which requires artists to work from dark to light. To create a mezzotint, the surface of a copper printing plate is roughened evenly all over with the aid of a tool known as a rocker; the image is then formed by smoothing the surface with a tool known as a burnisher. When inked, the roughened areas of the plate will hold more ink and print more darkly, while smoother areas of the plate hold less or no ink, and will print more lightly or not at all. It is, however, possible to create the image by only roughening the plate selectively, so working from light to dark.

Mezzotint is known for the luxurious quality of its tones: first, because an evenly, finely roughened surface holds a lot of ink, allowing deep solid colors to be printed; secondly because the process of smoothing the texture with burin, burnisher and scraper allows fine gradations in tone to be developed.

The mezzotint printmaking method was invented by Ludwig von Siegen
Ludwig von Siegen
Ludwig von Siegen was a German soldier and amateur engraver, who invented the printmaking technique of mezzotint, a variant of engraving...

 (1609–1680). The process was used widely in England from the mid-eighteenth century, to reproduce oil paintings and portraits.

Aquatint



A technique used in Intaglio
Intaglio (printmaking)
Intaglio is a family of printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface, known as the matrix or plate, and the incised line or area holds the ink. Normally, copper or zinc plates are used as a surface, and the incisions are created by etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint or...

 etchings. Like etching, aquatint technique involves the application of acid to make marks in a metal plate. Where the etching technique uses a needle to make lines that retain ink, aquatint relies on powdered rosin
Rosin
.Rosin, also called colophony or Greek pitch , is a solid form of resin obtained from pines and some other plants, mostly conifers, produced by heating fresh liquid resin to vaporize the volatile liquid terpene components. It is semi-transparent and varies in color from yellow to black...

 which is acid resistant in the ground to create a tonal effect. The rosin is applied in a light dusting by a fan booth, the rosin is then cooked until set on the plate. At this time the rosin can be burnished or scratched out to affect its tonal qualities. The tonal variation is controlled by the level of acid exposure over large areas, and thus the image is shaped by large sections at a time.

Goya used aquatint for most of his prints.

Drypoint



A variant of engraving, done with a sharp point, rather than a v-shaped burin
Burin
Burin from the French burin meaning "cold chisel" has two specialised meanings for types of tools in English, one meaning a steel cutting tool which is the essential tool of engraving, and the other, in archaeology, meaning a special type of lithic flake with a chisel-like edge which was probably...

. While engraved lines are very smooth and hard-edged, drypoint scratching leaves a rough burr at the edges of each line. This burr gives drypoint prints a characteristically soft, and sometimes blurry, line quality. Because the pressure of printing quickly destroys the burr, drypoint is useful only for very small editions; as few as ten or twenty impressions. To counter this, and allow for longer print runs, electro-plating (here called steelfacing) has been used since the nineteenth century to harden the surface of a plate.

The technique appears to have been invented by the Housebook Master, a south German fifteenth century artist, all of whose prints are in drypoint only. Among the most famous artists of the old master print: Albrecht Dürer produced 3 drypoints before abandoning the technique; Rembrandt used it frequently, but usually in conjunction with etching and engraving.

Lithography






Lithography
Lithography
Lithography is a method for printing using a stone or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface...

 is a technique invented in 1798 by Alois Senefelder
Alois Senefelder
Johann Alois Senefelder was a German actor and playwright who invented the printing technique of lithography in 1796.-Actor, playwright:...

 and based on the chemical repulsion
Repulsion
Repulsion is a 1965 British psychological thriller film directed by Roman Polanski, based on a scenario by Gérard Brach and Roman Polanski. It was Polanski's first English language film, and was shot in Britain, as such being his second film made outside his native Poland. The cast includes...

 of oil
Oil
An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and does not mix with water but may mix with other oils and organic solvents. This general definition includes vegetable oils, volatile essential oils, petrochemical oils, and synthetic oils....

 and water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

.
A porous surface
Surface
In mathematics, specifically in topology, a surface is a two-dimensional topological manifold. The most familiar examples are those that arise as the boundaries of solid objects in ordinary three-dimensional Euclidean space R3 — for example, the surface of a ball...

, normally limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

, is used; the image is drawn on the limestone with a greasy medium.
Acid is applied, transferring the grease to the limestone, leaving the image 'burned' into the surface. Gum arabic
Gum arabic
220px|thumb|right|Acacia gumGum arabic, also known as acacia gum, chaar gund, char goond, or meska, is a natural gum made of hardened sap taken from two species of the acacia tree; Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal...

, a water soluble substance, is then applied, sealing the surface of the stone not covered with the drawing medium.
The stone is wetted, with water staying only on the surface not covered in grease-based residue of the drawing; the stone is then 'rolled up', meaning oil ink is applied with a roller covering the entire surface; since water repels the oil in the ink, the ink adheres only to the greasy parts, perfectly inking the image.
A sheet of dry paper is placed on the surface, and the image is transferred to the paper by the pressure of the printing press. Lithography is known for its ability to capture fine gradations in shading and very small detail.

A variant is photo-lithography, in which the image is captured by photographic processes on metal plates; printing is carried out in the same way.

Screenprinting





Screenprinting
Screen-printing
Screen printing is a printing technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil. The attached stencil forms open areas of mesh that transfer ink or other printable materials which can be pressed through the mesh as a sharp-edged image onto a substrate...

 (occasionally known as "silkscreen", or "serigraphy") creates prints by using a fabric stencil technique; ink is simply pushed through the stencil against the surface of the paper, most often with the aid of a squeegee. Generally, the technique uses a natural or synthetic 'mesh' fabric stretched tightly across a rectangular 'frame,' much like a stretched canvas. The fabric can be silk, nylon monofilament, multifilament polyester, or even stainless steel (http://awt-gpi.com/product148.htm). While commercial screenprinting often requires high-tech, mechanical apparatuses and calibrated materials, printmakers value it for the "Do It Yourself" approach, and the low technical requirements, high quality results. The essential tools required are a squeegee, a mesh fabric, a frame, and a stencil. Unlike many other printmaking processes, a printing press is not required, as screenprinting is essentially stencil printing.

Screenprinting may be adapted to printing on a variety of materials, from paper, cloth, and canvas to rubber, glass, and metal. Artists have used the technique to print on bottles, on slabs of granite, directly onto walls, and to reproduce images on textiles which would distort under pressure from printing presses.

Monotype



Monotyping
Monotyping
Monotyping is a type of printmaking made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. The surface, or matrix, was historically a copper etching plate, but in contemporary work it can vary from zinc or glass to acrylic glass. The image is then transferred onto a sheet of paper by...

 is a type of printmaking made by drawing or painting on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. The surface, or matrix, was historically a copper etching plate, but in contemporary work it can vary from zinc or glass to acrylic glass. The image is then transferred onto a sheet of paper by pressing the two together, usually using a printing-press. Monotypes can also be created by inking an entire surface and then, using brushes or rags, removing ink to create a subtractive image, e.g. creating lights from a field of opaque color. The inks used may be oil based or water based. With oil based inks, the paper may be dry, in which case the image has more contrast, or the paper may be damp, in which case the image has a 10 percent greater range of tones.

Unlike monoprinting
Monoprinting
Monoprinting is a form of printmaking that has images or lines that can only be made once, unlike most printmaking, where there are multiple originals. There are many techniques of monoprinting...

, monotyping produces a unique print, or monotype, because most of the ink is removed during the initial pressing. Although subsequent reprintings are sometimes possible, they differ greatly from the first print and are generally considered inferior. A second print from the original plate is called a "ghost print" or "cognate". Stencils, watercolor, solvents, brushes, and other tools are often used to embellish a monotype print. Monotypes are often spontaneously executed and with no preliminary sketch.

Monotypes are the most painterly method among the printmaking techniques, a unique print that is essentially a printed painting. The principal characteristic of this medium is found in its spontaneity and its combination of printmaking, painting, and drawing media.

Monoprint



Monoprinting
Monoprinting
Monoprinting is a form of printmaking that has images or lines that can only be made once, unlike most printmaking, where there are multiple originals. There are many techniques of monoprinting...

 is a form of printmaking that uses a matrix such as a woodblock, litho stone, or copper plate, but produces impressions that are unique. Multiple unique impressions printed from a single matrix are sometimes known as a variable edition. There are many techniques used in monoprinting, including collagraph, collage
Collage
A collage is a work of formal art, primarily in the visual arts, made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole....

, hand-painted additions, and a form of tracing by which thick ink is laid down on a table, paper is placed on the ink, and the back of the paper is drawn on, transferring the ink to the paper. Monoprints can also be made by altering the type, color, and viscosity of the ink used to create different prints. Traditional printmaking techniques, such as lithography, woodcut, and intaglio, can be used to make monoprints.

Digital prints





Digital prints refers to images printed using a digital printer instead of a traditional printing press. These images can be printed to a variety of substrates including paper, cloth, or plastic canvas. Accurate color reproduction and the type of ink used (see below) are key to distinguishing high quality from low quality digital prints. Metallics (silvers, golds) are particularly difficult to reproduce accurately because they reflect light back to digital scanners. High quality digital prints typically are reproduced with very high-resolution data files with very high-precision printers. The substrate used has an effect on the final colors and cannot be ignored when selecting a color palette.

Pigment-based vs. dye-based inks


Unlike pigment, dyes dissolve when mixed into a liquid. Dyes are organic
Organic compound
An organic compound is any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon. For historical reasons discussed below, a few types of carbon-containing compounds such as carbides, carbonates, simple oxides of carbon, and cyanides, as well as the...

 (not mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

). Although most are synthetic, derived from petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

, they can be made from vegetable or animal sources. Dyes are well suited for textiles where the liquid dye penetrates and chemically bonds to the fiber. Because of the deep penetration, more layers of material must lose their color before the fading is apparent. Dyes, however, are not suitable for the relatively thin layers of ink laid out on the surface of a print.

Pigment is a finely ground, particulate substance which, when mixed or ground into a liquid to make ink or paint, does not dissolve, but remains dispersed or suspended in the liquid. Pigments are categorized as either inorganic (mineral) or organic (synthetic).

A pigment, such as red iron oxide (rust) is simply an oxidized form of iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

. One could leave iron, lead, or gold in the sun for a million years and they would never change color or change into another substance. In contrast, man-made synthetic and vegetable water-soluble dyes can fade rapidly, often within one to six months.

"Giclée" prints


The term Giclée
Giclée
Giclée , is a neologism coined in 1991 by printmaker Jack Duganne for fine art digital prints made on ink-jet printers. The name originally applied to fine art prints created on IRIS printers in a process invented in the late 1980s but has since come to mean any high quality ink-jet print and is...

, derived from the French and meaning "to spurt", is sometimes used in the commercial fine art print community to describe the ink-jet printing processes listed above. It was originally associated with Iris printing process. Today fine art prints produced on ink-jet machines using the CcMmYK color model
CcMmYK color model
CcMmYK, sometimes referred to as CMYKLcLm, is a six color printing process used in some inkjet printers optimized for photo printing. It extends the customary four color CMYK process, which stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key , by adding light cyan and light magenta...

 are generally called "Giclée".

Foil imaging



In art, foil imaging is a printmaking technique made using the Iowa Foil Printer, developed by Virginia A. Myers
Virginia A. Myers
Virginia A. Myers is an American artist, professor, and inventor. She was born in Greencastle, Indiana, and grew up with her parents and younger sister mostly in Cleveland, Ohio, where her father taught at various colleges and schools....

 from the commercial foil stamping
Foil stamping
Foil stamping, typically a commercial print process, is the application of pigment or metallic foil, often gold or silver, but can also be various patterns or what is known as pastel foil which is a flat opaque color or white special film-backed material, to paper where a heated die is stamped onto...

 process. This uses gold leaf and acrylic foil
Foil (chemistry)
A foil is a very thin sheet of metal, usually made by hammering or rolling a piece of metal. Foils are most easily made with malleable metals, such as aluminium, copper, tin, and gold. Foils usually bend under their own weight and can be torn easily. The more malleable a metal, the thinner foil can...

 in the printmaking process.

Color


Printmakers apply color to their prints in many different ways. Often color in printmaking that involves etching, screenprinting, woodcut, or linocut
Linocut
Linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum is used for the relief surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a sharp knife, V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the raised areas representing a reversal of the parts to show printed...

 is applied by either using separate plates, blocks or screens or by using a reductionist approach. In multiple plate color techniques, a number of plates, screens or blocks are produced, each providing a different color. Each separate plate, screen, or block will be inked up in a different color and applied in a particular sequence to produce the entire picture. On average about 3 to 4 plates are produced, but there are occasions where a printmaker may use up to seven plates. Every application of another plate of color will interact with the color already applied to the paper, and this must be kept in mind when producing the separation of colors. The lightest colors are often applied first, and then darker colors successively until the darkest.

The reductionist approach to producing color is to start with a lino or wood block that is either blank or with a simple etching. Upon each printing of color the printmaker will then further cut into the lino or woodblock removing more material and then apply another color and reprint. Each successive removal of lino or wood from the block will expose the already printed color to the viewer of the print. Picasso is often cited as the inventor of reduction printmaking, although there is evidence of this method in use 25 years before Picasso's linocuts.

The subtractive color
Subtractive color
A subtractive color model explains the mixing of paints, dyes, inks, and natural colorants to create a full range of colors, each caused by subtracting some wavelengths of light and reflecting the others...

 concept is also used in offset
Offset printing
Offset printing is a commonly used printing technique in which the inked image is transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface...

 or digital print and is present in bitmap or vectorial software in CMYK
CMYK color model
The CMYK color model is a subtractive color model, used in color printing, and is also used to describe the printing process itself. CMYK refers to the four inks used in some color printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key...

 or other color spaces.

Registration


In printmaking processes requiring more than one application of ink or other medium, the problem exists as to how to line up properly areas of an image to receive ink in each application. The most obvious example of this would be a multi-color image in which each color is applied in a separate step. The lining up of the results of each step in a multistep printmaking process is called "registration." Proper registration results in the various components of an image being in their proper place. But, for artistic reasons, improper registration is not necessarily the ruination of an image.

This can vary considerably from process to process. It generally involves placing the substrate, generally paper, in correct alignment with the printmaking element that will be supplying it with coloration.

Protective printmaking equipment


Protective clothing is very important for printmakers who engage in etching and lithography (closed toed shoes and long pants). In the past, many printmakers did not live far past 35 to 40 years of age because of their exposure to various acids, solvents, particles, and vapors inherent in the printmaking process.

Whereas in the past printmakers put their plates in and out of acid baths with their bare hands, today printmakers use rubber gloves. They also wear industrial respirator
Respirator
A respirator is a device designed to protect the wearer from inhaling harmful dusts, fumes, vapors, or gases. Respirators come in a wide range of types and sizes used by the military, private industry, and the public...

s for protection from caustic vapors. Most acid baths are built with ventilation hoods above them.

Often, an emergency cold shower or eye wash station is nearby in case of acid spillages, as well as soda ash- which neutralizes most acids. Some printmakers wear goggles when dealing with acid.

Protective respirators and masks should have particle filters, particularly for aquatinting. As a part of the aquatinting process, a printmaker is often exposed to rosin
Rosin
.Rosin, also called colophony or Greek pitch , is a solid form of resin obtained from pines and some other plants, mostly conifers, produced by heating fresh liquid resin to vaporize the volatile liquid terpene components. It is semi-transparent and varies in color from yellow to black...

 powder. Rosin is a serious health hazard, especially to printmakers who, in the past, simply used to hold their breath using an aquatinting booth.

Barrier cream is often used upon a printmaker's hands both when putting them inside the protective gloves and if using their hands to wipe plates (wipe ink into the grooves of the plate and remove excess).

Sterile plasters and bandages should always be available to treat cuts and scrapes. For example, zinc plates can be extremely sharp when their edges are not beveled.

See also


  • Artist's proof
    Artist's proof
    An artist's proof is, at least in theory, an impression of a print taken in the printmaking process to see the current printing state of a plate while the plate is being worked on by the artist...

  • Banhua
    Banhua
    Banhua is the Chinese umbrella term for any printed art objects, and especially for those made by woodblock printing, the term used for woodcuts from Asia.-History:...

    , Chinese printmaking
  • Carborundum printmaking
    Carborundum printmaking
    Carborundum printmaking is a collagraph printmaking technique in which the image is created by adding light passages to a dark field. It is a relatively new process invented in the US during the 1930s that allows artists to work on a large scale...

  • Edition
    Edition
    In printmaking, an edition is a number of prints struck from one plate, usually at the same time. This is the meaning covered by this article...

  • Graphic design
    Graphic design
    Graphic design is a creative process – most often involving a client and a designer and usually completed in conjunction with producers of form – undertaken in order to convey a specific message to a targeted audience...

  • Line engraving
    Line engraving
    Line engraving is a term for engraved images printed on paper to be used as prints or illustrations. The term is now much less used and when is, it is mainly in connection with 18th or 19th century commercial illustrations for magazines and books, or reproductions of paintings.Steel engraving is...

  • Old master print
    Old master print
    An old master print is a work of art produced by a printing process within the Western tradition . A date of about 1830 is usually taken as marking the end of the period whose prints are covered by this term. The main techniques concerned are woodcut, engraving and etching, although there are...

  • Shin hanga
    Shin hanga
    was an art movement in early 20th-century Japan, during the Taishō and Shōwa periods, that revitalized traditional ukiyo-e art rooted in the Edo and Meiji periods...

  • Sosaku hanga
    Sosaku hanga
    was an art movement in early 20th-century Japan, during the Taishō and Shōwa periods. It advocated the principles of "self-drawn" , "self-carved" and "self-printed" art, stressing the artist, motivated by a desire for self-expression, as the sole creator...

  • Ukiyo-e
    Ukiyo-e
    ' is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theatre, and pleasure quarters...

  • Viscosity printing
  • List of Printmakers

Printmakers by nationality


Engravers by nationality
Etchers by nationality
Printmakers by nationality

Further reading

  • Grabowski, Beth and Fick, Bill, "Printmaking: A Complete Guide to Materials & Processes." Prentice Hall, 2009. ISBN 0-205-66453-9
  • Anderson, Donna, Experience Printmaking. Worcester, MA: Davis Publications, 2009. ISBN 978-0-87192-982-2
  • Gill Saunders and Rosie Miles Prints Now: Directions and Definitions Victoria and Albert Museum (May 1, 2006) ISBN 1-85177-480-7
  • Griffiths, Antony, Prints and Printmaking, British Museum Press, 2nd ed, 1996 ISBN 0-7141-2608-X
  • Hults, Linda The Print in the Western World: An Introductory History. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0-299-13700-7
  • Ivins, William Jr. Prints and Visual Communication. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953. ISBN 0-262-59002-6
  • Watrous, James A Century of American Printmaking. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984. ISBN 0-299-09680-7

External links



History of printmaking; glossaries

Printmaking organizations