Printmaking Techniques


Aquatint

A process to produce a tonal range through etching. A fine powder called Rosin is adhered onto the plate with heat. Any white areas in the the image are stopped out, and the plate put in acid for the required length of time to produce the palest grey, with the acid biting the metal in between the particles of Rosin, creating tiny pits that will hold the ink. The palest grey is then stopped out and the plate put back in the acid for the required length of time for the next grey tone, and so on until the darkest tone has been achieved.

Collagraph

A technique that relies on the surface quality of different materials glued onto a plate to produce an image. Marks can also be cut and scored into the plate. A collagraph can be printed as a relief or intaglio image, or viscosity printed, inking up both the intaglio and relief parts of the image with inks of varying viscosity, to produce a multi coloured image printed all at the same time. Usually suitable for small editions due to the short life of the plate.

Drypoint

A drypoint needle is used to scratch an image onto a metal or plastic plate. Ink is pushed into the grooves created by the needle. Drypoint relies not only on the groove provided by the needle but on the burr of material made when scratching the surface. This gives it a line with a velvety fluctuating character. The burr wears away quite quickly and the initial character and intensity of mark will be lost. Suitable for small editions.

Etching

A metal plate is coated with hard or soft wax. Marks are made into this ground through various means exposing the metal. The plate is placed into acid which etches the exposed metal. Line work can be worked onto the hard wax using an etching needle or similar tools. Materials can be pressed into the soft wax, again removing wax and exposing the metal. Ink is then pushed into these etched marks to create the print. As the etched marks are far more stable than a scratched marked a larger edition can be achieved.

Lino

A relief printing process where the smooth soft surface of Linoleum is cut using V shaped or U shaped gouges, or with a knife. The marks cut do not print, it is the uncut surface, the surface left in relief that carries the ink and prints. More complicated and multi-coloured images can be achieved through the use of paper stencils, the Reduction method, or the Key Block system.

Lithography

A planographic process where both printing and non printing surfaces are at the same level when printing. Lithography relies on the fact that oil and water do not mix. A lime stone slab that absorbs water was first used to produce lithographs. A hand drawn or painted image is produced on the stone with greasy materials such as crayons or tusches. The stone is covered in a thin film of slightly acidic Gum Arabic solution and dried. This makes the non image areas ultra grease free and hydrophilic, attracting water. During inking, the plate's surface is kept constantly wet; this water repels the printing ink. When a roller charged with a greasy ink is passed over the dampened surface, the drawn areas being greasy attract the greasy ink and the non image areas repel the grease. Hand drawn images can be worked onto grained zinc to create a Litho plate. UV light sensitive metal plates can be used to expose images onto to create a photo lithographic plate.

Monoprint

A unique print from a matrix that contains information and is capable of making multiples but has been treated in a unique way, either through inking, wiping, chine collé etc. making it a 'one off' and unique.

Monotype

A unique print created from a matrix (plate, block, screen) that has no Information held on it. The image is created by manipulating the ink on the plates surface. There is only one created, making it unique like a painting.

Screen printing (silkscreen)

This method creates prints by pushing ink with a squeegee through a stencil on a fabric mesh. Stencils can be made by using paper, screen filler, resist fluid, or UV light sensitive emulsion. Hand drawn and photographic positive film transparencies can be exposed onto screens coated with a UV light sensitive emulsion. Where the UV light passes through the clear areas in the transparency, it cures the emulsion in place, and where the light is stopped by the dark areas of the transparency these parts of the emulsion wash out of the screen when developed with water, creating a long lasting stencil.

Solar Plate

The process was developed in the 1970s. A light-sensitive polymer film sits on a steel backing plate. The process needs a graphic image drawn or created on a transparent film (acetate or glass). The image is exposed onto the plate with sun or UV light using an exposure unit, and developed in tap water. This method can be developed into an intaglio or a relief print.

Woodcut

Produced from the side grain of a piece of wood or plank, is usually made using soft woods. The image is mostly worked with the grain of the wood, as it is much more difficult to cut across the grain. The marks are much coarser than with wood engraving, with the character of the wood being visible and part of the final image.