Printmaking is a process where multiple original images, prints
, are made by printing from one original source onto paper or other chosen print surface. The original plate is called matrix
and it can be made of various materials. The image is transferred from the matrix using different printmaking techniques either by hand or by using a press.
The prints created by printmaking process are original artworks having an element of originality, so they are not considered as copies. Each print is signed, titled and numbered by the artist. The impressions printed from the same matrix are forming an edition
This article is divided into two parts and it introduces shortly some printmaking techniques with artwork examples.
- The Part 1 introduces relief printing techniques such as linocut and woodcut.
- The Part 2 introduces intaglio printing techniques such as collagraphy, drypoint and etching.
Linocut and WoodcutLinocut
are printmaking techniques where the design is carved out in order to make the image appear in relief. At first the design is drawn onto linoleum or on a block of wood and then the areas around the drawing are cut out. The areas the printmaker wants to leave blank (paper color), are carved out and the parts they want to be printed are left uncarved.
After the matrix is ready, ink is rolled on the block's raised portions and then pressed on a paper or fabric by hand or with a press. The image will appear reverse because the matrix is in direct contact with the paper. The result can be checked for example by using a mirror before printing to make sure how the print will look in reality.
In both methods it is possible to create multicolored prints by using either multiple matrixes or cutting the block more after the first printing and then re-inking it with different color.
When choosing a material for your relief matrix, there is couple of things to consider:
- Linoleum is softer than wood which makes is easier and faster to cut than wood. On the other hand, linoleum is more fragile which means wood allows creating larger works and more prints than lino.
- Harder nature of wood allows having finer lines and more details than linoleum.
- Wood has natural, directional grain which also shows as texture when printed. Linocut has less texture and gives more contrast between carved and uncarved areas when printing.
- Do you have experience of linocut or woodcut or other relief printing techniques?
- If you have, do you have any handy tips to share for those who want to start making their own prints?
Sources and further reading:
Images, Voyages, Impressions by Dominique Lecomte: Relief printing techniques
The Museum of Modern Art: What is a Print