Common Print Making Techniques

Aquatint - Printing Technique capable of producing unlimited tonal gradations to re-create the broad flat tints of ink wash or watercolor drawings by etching microscopic crackles and pits into the image on a master plate, typically made of copper and zinc. The majority of Spanish artists Goya’s (1746-1828) graphic works were done using this technique.

Blind - Printing using an unlinked plate to produce the subtle embossed texture of a white-on-white image, highlighted by the shadow of the relief image on the unlinked Paper. This technique is used in many Japanese prints.

Collagraph - Printing technique in which proofs are pulled back from a block on which the artwork or design is built up like a collage, creating a relief.

Drypoint - Printing technique of intaglio engraving in which a hard, steel needle incises lines on a metal plate, creating a burr that yields a characteristically soft and velvety line in the final print.

Engraving - Printing technique in which an intaglio image is produced by cutting a metal plate or box directly with a sharp engraving tool. The incised lines are linked and printed with the heavy pressure.

Etching - Printing technique in which a metal plate is first covered with an acid-resistant Material, then worked with an etching needle to create an intaglio image. The exposed metal is eaten away in an acid bath, creating depressed lines that are later inked for printing. This technique was thought to have been developed by Daniel Hopfer (1493-1536). Etching surpassed engraving as the most popular graphic art during the active years of Rembrandt and Hercules Segher in the 17th century, and it remains one of the most versatile and subtle printing techniques today.

Iris or Giclee - A computerized reproduction technique in which the image and topology are generated from a digital file and printed by a special ink jet printer, using ink, acrylic or oil paints. Giclee printing offers one of the highest degree of accuracy and richness of color available in any reproduction techniques.

Lithography - Printing technique using a planographic process in which prints are pulled on a special press from a flat stone or metal surface that has been chemically sensitized so that ink sticks only to the design areas, and is repelled by the non-image areas. Lithography was invented in 1798 in Solnhofen, Germany by Alois Senefelder. The early history of lithography is dominated by great French artists such as Daumier and Delacroix, and later by Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Braque and Miro.

Mezzotint - (mezzo = half and tinta = tone), a reverse engraving process used on a copper or steel plate to produce illustrations in relief with effects of light and shadow. The surface of a master plate is roughened with a tool called a rocker so that if inked, it will print solid black. The areas to be white or gray in the print are rubbed down so as not to take ink. It was widely used in the 18th and 19th centuries to reproduce portraits and other paintings, but became obsolete with the introduction of photoengraving.

Monotype - One-of-a-kind print made by painting on a sheet of metal or glass and transferring the still-wet-painting to a sheet of paper by hand or with an etching press. If enough paint remains on the master plate, additional prints can be made, however, the reprint will have substantial variations from the original image. Monotype printing is not a multiple-replica process since each print is unique.

Offset Lithography - A special photomechanical technique in which the image to be printed is transferred to the negative plates and printed onto papers. Offset lithography is very well adapted to color printing.

Serigraphy (silk-screen) - A printing technique that makes use of a squeegee to force ink directly onto a piece of paper or canvas through a stencil creating an image on a screen of silk or other fine fabric with an impermeable substance. Serigraphy differs from most other printing in that its color areas are paint films rather than printing - ink stains.

Stone Lithography - The process starts with drawing the image on the stone by using a greasy black lithographic pencil. These usually take three to twelve days, depending on the size and complexity of the image. The main problem is that mistakes cannot be erased. Small corrections can be made with a sharp knife, but major corrections are needed, it is necessary to start again on a new stone.

Serigraph - Silk-screening, which is also referred to as serigraphy or screen printing, is a centuries-old process that originated in China, It is, in essence, a refined version of a hand stenciled process. The image is divided, as it were, by a color, with a screen corresponding to each shade of ink that will appear on the final surface-paper, canvas, fabric, etc. The ink is applied to a screen, transferring to the paper only through the porous segments. A separate screen must be created for each color. On average, it takes between 80 to 100 screens to create a serigraph. The elements are hand-drawn onto mylar and photographically exposed onto each screen. Inks are matched to the hues of the original and custom mixed. Each edition takes approximately eight weeks to complete: four to five people handle the several stages of the process, and 80 to 90 percent of the production time is devoted to making color separations and the screens.

Enhanced - The artist goes over the edition repainting or touching up special areas.

Canvas Transfer - The print (or lithograph) is sprayed or hand-coated with a chemical compound. When it dries, the print is covered with another chemical solution that separates the paper from the ink. How well the paper separates and how carefully all remaining paper is removed can affect the finish product. Once the paper is gone, what’s left resembles a thin slice of Jell-O.

Edition - The authorized number of impressions produced. The edition includes all numbered pieces artist’s proofs (a.p.) hors de commerce examples (H.C., i.e. outside of usual commerce) and printers proofs (P.P.).

Remarque - An original hand drawing by the artist painted or drawn onto the limited edition.



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