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Printmaking Techniques


Ink is rolled, dabbed or painted on the surface of the block, which is then printed manually or
by printing press.

Linocut / Woodcut / Wood Engraving

An image is cut into a flat surface of lino or wood using sharp tools. A thin layer of printing ink is then applied to the raised (or uncut) surface and the image printed by hand burnishing or with a printing press.

Reduction printing is a way of making a multicolour print from one block, which is cut, inked and printed over several successive stages.


Ink is pushed into marks etched, engraved or indented into a plate and printed by press. Hand burnishing is not effective for intaglio printing. Usually metal plates are used but a variety of hard plastic material may also be suitable.

Etching / Aquatint

An image is drawn (or photographically transferred) on the protected surface of a metal plate, (copper, zinc or steel) and etched in with acid. Tonal values are produced with aquatint. For each printing, ink is rubbed into the lines, grooves and pitted areas of the plate, while its top surface is wiped clean.


An image is created by drawing directly on a plate (often metal but acetate is also suitable) with a sharp pointed metal stylus. The displaced metal produces a 'burr' that gives drypoint prints their characteristic velvety look. As the burr wears down quickly, the edition is always small - an edition of 10 prints is common.


A metal plate, usually copper, is first worked over with a 'rocker', which produces a fine pattern of closely spaced, indented dots, which, if inked, would print as a rich black tone. The image is created by scraping or burnishing highlights into the pitted surface of the plate. The artist works from dark to light.


A print made from a collaged block. Various materials such as card, adhesive tapes, metal foil, carborundum grit, are collaged on a metal or cardboard plate. Texture can also be created using wood glue or acrylic medium. The plate can be inked and printed in intaglio or in relief depending on the result desired. The different shapes and textures of the collaged materials are used to create the image. A press is needed for intaglio printing.


These prints use powdered stone (carborundum), stuck to the plate with glue or epoxy resins, to create a surface texture (like sandpaper) which holds ink, when the plate is inked in intaglio, and produces a very rich, dense tone and texture when printed. Carborundum can be added to a collagraph plate or drypoint plate and is particularly useful in the creation of abstract images.


This is a printing process relying on the antipathy of grease and water. Images are created traditionally by applying greasy marks to a specially prepared stone or metal plate
An image is drawn on a special stone or metal plate, using greasy materials such as oil-based crayons and inks (tusches). For printing, the greasy drawing is inked by rolling the plate's surface with oil-based ink. During inking, the plate's surface is kept constantly wet; this water repels the printing ink, which sticks only to the greasy drawing. Lithographs are press-printed. Separate plates and printings are required for each colour.

Artists are now able to use polyester sheet for limited print runs of lithograph prints. The images can be created on the polyester sheet using a wide range of drawing media including biro.


A porous mesh is attached to a rigid frame. Ink is forced through the mesh onto the surface to be printed.

An image is hand-painted (or stencilled or photographically applied) onto a 'screen' (traditionally a textile mesh stretched over a frame although metal meshes are now more common).
The painted areas block up the holes in the mesh, preventing ink from passing through in those parts. Ink is pulled across the screen using a special rubber blade, forcing the ink through the mesh and onto the surface to be printed. Several screens may be required to produce an image involving many colours.


The image is created or manipulated on a computer, in a digital medium. These are often referred to as Giclee prints. The artist or digital print specialist uses computer software to create an image directly on the computer screen or to manipulate a pre-existing scanned image to create something new. Digital prints are most often printed on special papers using inkjet or laser printers however some artists prefer to work with uncoated papers such as water colour paper.


The terms 'monotype' and 'monoprint' are interchangeable in common usage. A monoprint is a 'one-off' image. An image is painted or drawn onto a flat printing surface and then printed by hand- or press-pressure. The image can be built-up in stages or created in one go. It cannot be repeated in an identical form as it is not made from a block or other semi-permanent printing matrix. It is unique and marked 1/1.

A 'one-off' image. An image taken from a
re-printable block (such as a linocut or collagraph) but printed so that only one of its kind exists, for example, it may incorporate unique hand-colouring, collage or monotype.

The image is created by pulling an inked roller over textured material or a relief printing plate. A negative image is created on the roller and this is then transferred to paper by rolling.

The artist has used more than one printmaking medium to make the image.