Printmaking Vocabulary

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The methods of printmaking can be broken down into four major categories: Relief, Intaglio, Planographic and Stencil.

1.  Relief Printing - the original flat surface of a linoleum or wood block is the printing surface. Any parts of the design not to be printed are cut out, leading the major raised (in relief). The surface is inked with a roller, then transferred to paper by direct pressure. Examples on this method are linocut, woodcut and wood engraving. 

2.  Intaglio Printing - This method is the opposite of relief printing. Done on metal or plexi-glass plates, the design is incised or etched into the surface. It is the applying heavy pressure to press the paper into the inked marks; the original surface level of the Intaglio plate represents the white in a black and white image. Examples of this method are dry-point, mezzotint and etching. 

3.  Planographic Printing - The printing and non-printing areas on the same level. The image is drawn on a metal plate or litho stone and processed so that it "sets" into the grain of the surface. The prints can be taken by direct pressure. Lithography is an example of this method. Produces reverse image.

4.  Stencil Printing - Screen-printing is basically a stenciling process. To create an image, parts of the mesh must be block so that they do not allow the ink through. Silk-screening is an example of this method.

5.  Monoprinting - in method of printing that involves creating a unique impression by applying ink to a flat surface and transferring it to paper. Can be combined with other printing methods listed above.

6.  Engraving - a method of intaglio printing in which the lines or tones of an image art cut directly into the surface of a wooden block or a metal or plastic plate.

7.  Drypoint - a type of engraving. An essentially linear medium that derives its image and expressiveness from the artist's drawing skills. Usually combined with some other type of process to incorporate larger areas of shadowing and color.

8.  Etching - a method of intaglio printing in which the lines or tones of image are drawn into a prepared ground on the surface of a metal plate and then bitten in acid before being printed.

9.  Silkscreen - a method of stencil printing in which Inc. is forced through a stretched silk mesh onto the paper.

10.  Roller Press - a device used to produce intaglio prints. A flat, heavy metal bed is suspended between two rollers. The space between the rollers is adjustable to vary the pressure as required. The intaglio plate, with paper laid over it, position on the bed and passed between the rollers.

11.  Working Drawing - reference work done to prepare and use for the basis of the print. It is a guideline to composition and color scheme. As these elements are transferred into a new medium, the result of the print will look quite different. It is important to keep in mind that the working drawing will be the reverse image of the print except for stencil printing.

12.  Proofs - prints made at various stages during the creative process to act as guidelines for further stages to change, correct or improve the image.

13.  Drypoint Needle - a hard steel needle with a smooth, unfaceted point. Used to a grave and in it into the surface of a plate.

14.  Burr - the spiral of metal or plastic thrown up by an engraving tool.

15.  Hatching - a method of tonal shading using criss-cross lines.

16.  Stippling - a method of shading using short, stabbing strokes.

17.  Tarlatan - a special cloth-like material designed to absorb and remove ink from a plate.

18. Collography - printing the upper AND lower levels of the plate.

General notes:


1.  Relief (woodblock, linoleum, texture, etc.)

           - prints the upper level of the plate

2.  Intaglio (metal etching, etc.)

           - typically involves acid baths and zinc plates
           - also involves dampening the paper so that it will conform closely to the plate
           - prints the lower level of the plate

      Plexi-glass or metal plate
           - offers the ability to be more inventive in printing; drawing and painting combination

3.  Monoprinting

            - makes one or two highly unique prints
            - spontaneous results, highly experimental and inventive
            - smearing, mixing, etc.
            - typical prints the upper level of the plate

4.  Silk screening

            - involves high mesh silk, ink and squeegees
            - allowing high a volume of prints in necessary
            - enables fine detail and repetition
            - ink passes through the silk, so there isn't a printing surface per say

5.  Collography

            - prints upper AND lower levels of the plate

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