Different printmaking techniques
Prints can be made in a variety of ways. They are referred to by the name of the method employed: etching, aquatint, copper or steel engraving, lithograph, mezzotint, drypoint, monoprint, monotype, reduction print, linocut, photogravure, photoetching, woodcut and wood engraving. These processes can be divided into three categories: RELIEF (the image to print lies on the surface, INTAGLIO (the image is in the recessed areas of the matrix to print) and PLANOGRAPHIC (lithography)
cutting a woodblock
In a relief print the matrix used is usually a wooden block or a linoblock and the image is formed by
removing parts with carving tools, leaving a raised area (the image in relief) which will then be inked on the surface only and the image transferred either by rubbing onto the paper by hand with a Bamboo Baren or by running the block through a printing press.
Since the cutaway areas do not take the ink, they appear white on the printed image. Therefore, relief prints are characterized by bold dark-light contrasts.
The primary relief techniques are woodcut, wood engraving, and linocut.
Intaglio comes from the Italian word "intagliare", which means: "to cut into".
The image is cut or scratched into a flat metal plate (usually copper, brass or zinc) using a sharp tool (engraving method) or etched using acid (etching method).
Lifting up the paper after running the print
through an etching press
The plate is then covered with ink and wiped, so that the ink remains only in the incised grooves. A dampened piece of paper is placed over the plate and run through an etching press. The heavy pressure of the press pushes the paper into the grooves and ink is picked up.
The primary intaglio techniques are engraving, drypoint, mezzotint, etching, and aquatint.
An easy way to distinguish between a relief and an intaglio print, is to look for the plate mark: the impression of the plate on the paper (an indentation) which is left by the heavy pressure of the etching press.
Printmaking techniques: an overview and comparison of several printmaking techniques