Printmaking and its Techniques

Original Prints

An original print is an image conceived by an artist to be created on one surface and transferred onto another, thereby enabling the production of more than one final image. The original work of art is the print itself rather than the block or plate from which it is printed. As there is generally more than one ‘impression’ of any printed image, it is easier to find and afford an original print than an oil or watercolour by a certain artist. There are several different methods of printmaking.

Relief Printing

Relief prints are those in which the areas around the image to be printed are cut away, leaving the image on the block in relief. The raised areas are then inked and the image transferred onto a second surface, usually paper. The most common relief processes are woodcutlinocut and wood-engraving.

Intaglio Printing

Intaglio prints (from Italian intagliare - to engrave or incise) are those in which the image is cut into a surface or plate. When the plate is inked, the incised lines hold the ink and the image is transferred to a second surface, usually paper. There is generally a visible line around the image where the plate has been pressed into the paper, called the platemarkEngravingetchingdrypointaquatint and mezzotint are the most common types of intaglio printmaking.

Planographic Printing

In addition to the traditional relief and intaglio processes, which involve cutting into a block or plate, there are other methods of printmaking which do not, sometimes called planographic processes. The most widely used include lithography and screenprint.


A relief printmaking method


A relief printmaking method


The image is engraved directly onto a metal plate in this intaglio process


In this intaglio process, the artist draws onto a waxed metal plate which is then immersed in acid


An intaglio process that creates an overall tonal, grainy effect


A needle draws directly onto a metal plate in this intaglio process


Ink adheres to a rough surface to create velvety tones


The image is drawn and transferred based on the principle that grease and water repel


A process that always produces a unique print


A from of stencil printing, in which ink is pressed through a fine-mesh screen


The image is manipulated on a computer


An intaglio process similar to aquatint

Using Format