Printmaking is the process of making artworks by printing, normally on paper. Printmaking normally covers only the process of creating prints that have an element of originality, rather than just being a photographic reproduction of a painting. Except in the case of monotyping, the process is capable of producing multiples of a same piece, which is called a print. Each print produced is not considered a "copy" but rather is considered an "original". This is because typically each print varies to an extent due to variables intrinsic to the printmaking process, and also because the imagery of a print is typically not simply a reproduction of another work but rather is often a unique image designed from the start to be expressed in a particular printmaking technique.

Lithography (Planographic Printing)

In planographic printing, as opposed to intaglio and relief processes, there is no difference in level between the inked surface and the non-inked surface. The following sections detail variations of lithographic prints.

Artists who use print lithography include Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


The design is drawn or painted on the polished, or grained, flat surface of a stone, usually Bavarian limestone, with a greasy crayon or ink. The design is chemically fixed on the stone with a weak solution of acid and gum Arabic. In printing, the stone is flooded with water which is absorbed everywhere except where repelled by the greasy ink. Oil-based printer’s ink is then rolled on the stone, which is repelled in turn by the water-soaked areas and accepted only by the drawn design. A piece of paper is laid on the stone and it is run through the press with light pressure, the final print showing neither a raised nor embossed quality but lying entirely on the surface of the paper. The design may be divided among several stones, properly registered, to produce, through multiple printings, a lithograph in more than one color. A transfer lithograph (French, autographie) employs the same technique, but the design is drawn on special transfer paper and is later mechanically transferred to the stone. A zincograph is the same technique, but employing a zinc plate rather than a stone

Offset lithography or offset or photo-mechanical print

One of the four major industrial printing techniques of which the others are: letterpress, photogravure and screenprinting. It is an extension of the lithographic technique: the image is picked up from the stone, or more usually plate (either zinc or aluminium which has either been grained or covered with an absorbent oxide), by a rubber roller which then reprints it onto paper. Text and image can be transferred photographically and prepared in the usual lithographic technique based on the natural antipathy between grease and water. The advantage of offset is that it enables the damping, inking and printing itself to be done by a series of rollers which enormously speeds the operation, thereby enhancing the commercial value of the technique.

I think this technique has become the most commonly used method in commercial printing, although its importance in printmaking is not very great, so we would definitely not be experiencing this process for the print week, however it is an important thing to know as commercial printing is when we can produce and reproduce mass amount of for example publications.

Intaglio Printing

A printing process in which the image is incised or etched into a metal plate using a variety of techniques and tools. Ink is applied to the recessed areas of the printing plate by wiping, dabbing, or a combination of both. The paper receives the ink from the incised marks and not from the top surface of the plate, although thin films of ink may be left on the surface to produce a variety of tonal effects. For intaglio printing, the paper is dampened so that under printing pressure it will be squeezed into all the inked recesses of the plate and around it (leaving a PLATE MARK if the plate is smaller than the paper).

One of the distinguishing characteristics of this type of printing is that the dried ink impression stands up from the paper in very slight relief, perceptible by touching with the fingers or by close inspection.

In all intaglio prints, except mezzotint, the design is produced from ink in lines or areas below the surface of the plate. The smooth surface is wiped of ink before printing. Considerable pressure is used in the press to force the ink out of the lines and areas and, to an extent, to force the paper into them, so the final printed image will appear to be slightly raised above the surface of the un-inked paper.

Artists who use intaglio include Rembrandt, Brueghel the Elder, Pablo Picasso, and Joan Miró


Lines are bitten into the metal plate through the use of acid. To begin with, the plate is covered with a thin, acid-impervious coating called a ground which is smoked to a uniform black. Lines are drawn through the ground with a stylus baring the metal of the plate. Acid is then applied which eats into the exposed areas. The longer the plate is exposed to the acid, the deeper the bite and therefore the stronger the line. Different depths are achieved by covering some lines with acid-impervious varnish (stop-out) and biting others a second (or third) time. The appearance of etchings is usually free and spontaneous but the technique has occasionally been used to produce results almost as formal as engraving.

From previous visits to exhibitions I know that Honore Daumier works a lot with etching, so I was very impressed with its ability to show very fine details. The preparation for etching is quite complicated, but I wish to experiment with it in the future.



Lines are incised on a highly polished metal plate by means of a sharp-pointed instrument, diamond-shaped in cross section, called a burin or graver. The tool works like a plough cutting a furrow. The strength of the line may be increased by cutting deeper. The burin is held in a fixed position and, to produce a curved line, the plate itself is turned. This makes engraving a slow and painstaking technique producing controlled, formal results.

Again this process would is quite complicated to prepare, however the result can be very formal and professional, it is always used on invitations and cards.

Relief Printing

A printing process in which the impression is created by the uncarved areas or the unprepared surface of the PRINTING ELEMENT, which has been inked with a ROLLER, BRAYER, or other tool. The cut, or incised, areas do not usually print, since they are recessed and are rarely inked. Nonetheless, during a run paper is often pushed into these sunken areas, creating an embossed effect. The recessed areas do print when the printing element is inked in the same manner as an etching plate, with the surface wiped dean, leaving ink in the recesses. WOODCUT and LINOCUT are usually used for relief printing.

In all relief techniques it is the surface of the block that is inked and printed and, given perfect printing, all lines or surfaces will be equally dark. Moderate pressure in the press will emboss the paper to an extent, so the inked design will lie slightly below the uninked surface of the paper.

Artists who use intaglio include Albrecht Dürer, Wassily Kandinsky, and Pablo Picasso.



The design is drawn on a wood plank (side grain) and those areas that are not to print are cut away well below the surface with a knife or gouge. Linocut is the same technique using linoleum rather than wood.

Chiaroscuro Woodcut

The design is divided among several blocks, each to print a different color, with or without overlaps. Those areas cut away in all blocks will not print at all and thus provide highlights of the natural color of the paper used, the light of the “light-dark” technique. The blocks must be carefully matched in placement of the design (registration) and the paper must pass through as many printings as there are blocks. 

Wood Engraving

Tools similar to metal engraving are used on polished blocks of end-grain wood (usually boxwood), but instead of producing lines that will print, they are used to produce non-printing lines. It is the uncut surface that will take the ink and print

this week we will be doing a process similar to wood engraving, but using mountboard, they produce similar effect, but mount boards are a lot cheaper and easier to cut into with a scalpel. so the parts that are cut off will be the parts that would not be printed.

Linocut or linoleum cut

An abbreviation of linoleum cut. The technique is a derivation of the woodcut but owing to the supple, relatively soft properties of the material, linocuts have different characteristics. The material takes all types of lines, but is most suited to large designs with contrasting dark and light flat tints. The material is cut with small pen-like tools which have a mushroom-shaped handle. The tools have a variety of forms: straight and rounded edge, double-pointed, as a chisel or a V-shaped chisel, etc. As on a woodcut, the relief parts of the block are inked. For printing a large number of important proofs, the linoleum is attached to a wooden block. Color printing is done with several linoleum blocks. Long disparaged by serious artists as not challenging enough, the linocut came into its own after artists like Picasso and Matisse began to work in that technique.

lino cutting is something I have experienced before, and it is my favourite printing technique so far, as it is quite easy to cut into, also produce very clean edged finished with the help of lino tools. again for this technique what is not going to be printed should be cut out. for both lino cut and wood cut, the image would be flipped over when printed.


The principle of screenprinting, or silkscreening, consists in applying stencils to a screen (constructed of silk or of some synthetic or metallic material), in such a way that when ink is applied it is prevented from passing through some parts while penetrating the rest of the screen, thereby printing an image on paper placed underneath. The screen is stretched across a frame and attached to a base in such a manner that it can readily move up and down, so that paper can be easily placed and removed as required. For each impression, the paper is placed against registration tabs to ensure that the printing is done in the correct position. The ink is poured over the masking at one end of the screen and when this has been lowered into position, the ink is scraped across the screen with the aid of a squeegee.

The most important part of the process is the preparation of the screen. Stencils may be applied in a variety of ways, including the use of filling-in liquid, varnish or plastic film. A drawing can be made directly on the surface with a special ink which is removed in readiness for printing after the rest of the screen has been blocked out. A photographic stencil is made by initially sensitizing the screen.

Stencil (Pochoir)

Stencils are an essential part of screenprinting: they are attached to or incorporated with the screen to ensure that the ink passes through in the correct places. They can be made in many different forms, e. g. as a simple masking or covering stencil; as a “wash-out” stencil, which involves drawing the design on the screen in a greasy substance, then covering the whole screen with filler or gum, and finally dissolving the greasy image in turns, thereby forming a 1. positive stencil; or as a photo-stencil, whereby photographic images are incorporated into the screen. 2. Stencils are also used for coloring prints by hand. Stencils of the areas to be colored are cut out in zinc or aluminum; the colors are dabbed on with a large brush (known as a pompon in French); they may be juxtaposed or superimposed over each other. The method was much used in the coloring of maps, topographical prints and devotional woodcuts. It is still used today for book illustration and on greeting cards

screen printing with stencil is the first printing technique we got our hands on, it is a fast process, big blocks of colours or very delicate details can both be created, by cutting a stencil, just to bear in mind that the paper stencil that we cut out would be printed.

Sascha Tittmann

Sascha Tittmann is co-owner of a Swiss-based design and illustration studio.

Beside his strictly conceptional work as creative director for his studio, Buro Sequenz, Sascha Tittmann loves to play around with multiple illustration styles, typographic experiments and animation. He explored the screenprinting-technique as a new experience in his personal work.

the print below is one of my favourite work by Sascha Tittmann, because he worked with the colour, texts, and the shape of the texts. this is definitely something I can consider in my future experiments.

Chris Keegan

Chris Keegan is an illustrator living and working in London.
Since graduating from Camberwell College of Art he has worked for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including the Financial Times, Time magazine, the Observer, The Guardian, Time Out, GQ Australia, Mac User and Design Week Magazine.

He has worked for a variety of trade magazines and created images and designs for many design and ad agencies including Souk, Mother London, COPA and Momentum Design.

I like this work because the colour selection really attracted my eyes. Also the details of the trees have been printed neat and clean. It is really quite hard to get a totally clean print.

Nick Wroblewski

Nick Wroblewski is a native of South Minneapolis and returned to settle in the Midwest after attending Bennington College in Vermont. His interest in art was cultivated in his childhood and nourished by a surrounding community of artists and his experience in the Heart of The Beast Theatre Company.

His early experiences and dedication to pursuing art in many forms led to his work as a printmaker. Nick focuses on large multicolor woodcuts and has developed a distinct aesthetic reminiscent of the stylized Japanese masters, yet uniquely his own. His work depicts the reverence he has for conversations of the wild and loyalty to the honesty of handcrafted arts.

Nick's work can be seen in private collections and galleries throughout the country, as well as commercial designs and illustrations. He lives and prints from his home studio in the Driftless region of Wisconsin.

The artist work with large scale multi colour woodcuts, which I think would showcase woodcut to its best, as it would not work so well on small scales.

I also looked at some prints that only uses black and red ink for some inspirations, because I am guessing that during the screenprint workshop we would only be allowed 2 colours which are black and red, but I think they do work really well together, very distinctive.

Embossing with colours

A print of a London map formed using different letterpress fonts, they formed different areas of London, this makes me consider working with typography and print.

Letterpress prints, I like the use of colours and this is something I should really consider about when I am doing my own designs, colour is one of the most important feature.


Add comment

Fields marked by '*' are required.
Comments are moderated. If you choose to make this comment public, it will not be visible to others until it is approved by the owner.
Help for "License"
The license for this content.

Help for "Licensor"
The original licensor for this content.
Help for "Original URL"
The original URL for this content.

Reply to:

Private: This reply will only be visible to you and the author of the preceeding comment.