Printmaking techniques 

The prints here are not reproductions – but individual made prints using
plates that the artist created. Here are some of the terms to help you out!

Intaglio is a general category where marks (pits, grooves and cuts) are made on a plate. The
plate then is inked and wiped so that the ink sits in these marks made on the plate. A press is
used to transfer the ink from the plate onto a piece of paper. Intaglio can be subdivided into:
drypoint, etching, aquatint, engraving, and mezzotint.

Drypoint – Marks are made with a metal scriber or a Dremel on acrylic sheeting or a metal
plate. The rough edge (burr) of these marks holds the ink.

Mezzotint involves grooving a metal plate with a rocker until it is completely textured then
burnishing and scrapping areas of the plate to make the design. The more burnishing, the less
that area can hold ink and the print will be lighter in that area. The resulting print often look like
a black and white photograph.

Engraving is the traditional way plates for making money were made. Tiny grooves are cut out
using tools into a metal plate to create the artwork design.

Etching uses chemical solutions to create textures or lines or tonal areas on the plate. A
barrier is applied to protect areas of the plate. The plate is then submerged in the solution
which erodes the unprotected areas. More areas can be exposed or covered and re dipped in
the solution to create different effects and tones. The plates used for etching are made of
copper, aluminum, zinc or steel.

Aquatint is a type of etching. In addition to the barrier on the plate, the exposed areas of the
plate have either a light speckling of spray paint or rosin applied. The plate is then submersed
in the solution. The resulting effect is a soft tonal area.

Phototransfer – There are various techniques that transfers the image of a photograph or a
photocopy on to a plate. Some plates are etched and some use chemicals that harden when
exposed to light.

More than one intaglio techniques can be combined on one plate and other times multiple
plates are used to produce a print. Inking methods can vary. More than one colour can be
used, painted on “a la poupée” and then wiped in the usual manner. Ink can also be rolled
over part or all of the plate after it has been inked and wiped. This can be either a single thin
transparent layer (rolled) or two layers, one thin and one thickened (Mixed Viscosity rolling).

Chine collé – refers to paper that is glued onto the printing paper at the same time as the plate
is printed. The paper is often coloured or includes an image and sometimes it is cut in a shape
as to enhance the print.

Relief Printing – A plate is carved with tools to remove some of the top surface of the
material. A roller is used to apply the ink on to the plate, but it only touches the top surface of
the plate. The prints are made from these plates with a press or by hand with a Barron or
wooden spoon. Linocut, Woodcut, and Sintra are types of relief prints.

Woodcut/ Woodblock – is the oldest form of printmaking. A wooden block is carved to create
the artwork design. Sometimes several blocks are used to create one print, these are often
inked with different colours. Woodblocks are traditionally inked with a brush.

Linocut is the 20 th century alternative to woodcut. Linoleum has an even texture for carving. Its
smooth surface makes very graphic print.

Sintra – is used a new material used in the same way as Lino.

Collagraph is like intaglio and relief combined. The plate is constructed, most often on a
base of matte board. Various materials can be added to the plate: paper, fabric, acrylic
medium, etc. Areas of the plate can be carved away or grooved. It is inked like an intaglio plate
and then is often rolled with colours touching its top surfaces like a relief plate. Collagraphs are
printed with a press.

Monoprints is a name given to a print which has a part of it that can be repeated onto
another print, but it also has parts that are impossible to reproduce. Any plate types can be
used, but with added elements like inked leaves or a piece of paper that block some of the ink.
Prints created this way are unique. Monoprints are printed with a press or by hand.

Monotypes – This type of printmaking uses an plain unmarked plate of acrylic or metal. Only
applied ink creates the image. Sometimes textured material like feathers and leaves is inked
and placed on the plate. After completing the artwork, a print is pulled, transferring the ink onto
paper. The artwork cannot be replicated, although sometime the plate is pulled a second time
creating a Ghost which has less contrast. Prints created this way are unique. Monotypes are
printed with a press or by hand

Lithograph plates were traditionally made from a smooth limestone, but metal can be used
as well. Artwork is created with a greasy crayon or painted with greasy ink. After fixing the
image, the plate is made wet. The water stays in the non-treated areas. When the ink is rolled
it only adheres to the drawing/ painting (oil and water repel). Different colours require separate
plates. Stone Lithography uses a special press that applies an even pressure as not to break
the stone. Polyester lithograph is new material being used that works with the same principles.

Screen-printing – also called serigraphy or silk-screening does not use plates but screens
to create the print. Areas of a screen are blocked to create a design. The screen is stretched
on a frame. Ink is then pushed over the screen using a squeegee, with ink only transferring to
the paper in the unblocked areas. Different colours require separate screens.