Shaped by the Sea
Glossary of Print
Agnl Artwork Index
Glossary of Printmaking Techniques
- Also referred to as planography or surface printing, lithography operates on the principle that
water and grease repel each other. The image is created on a matrix of limestone, with a grease
pencil, crayon, or liquid (tusche). The stone is washed with a solution of nitric acid and gum
arabic, which affects the surface chemically so that the greased areas (the drawing) are etched
onto the stone, but the non-greased/non-printing areas are unaffected. When the stone is then
dampened, and a grease-based ink rolled onto the surface, the ink will adhere only to the already
greasy areas. Paper is laid on the stone, subjected to a press, and the image on the stone is
transferred to the paper.
- The name is derived from the Italian tagliare, meaning "to carve." Intaglio is also referred to
as cavo relievo (reverse relief). Intaglio involves engraving or etching on a zinc or copper
plate, by means of incising a drawing out of the surface, and thus creating a kind of relief
in reverse. The matrix/plate is inked, and then rubbed clean so that the only ink remaining is
that in the furrows carved by the etching process. A dampened paper is laid on the plate, and
the two are rolled through a heavy press. The paper is forced into the recessed design, and so
the drawing is transferred. Etching, aquatint, and mezzotint are intaglio methods.
- A form of intaglio, "etching" is often used synonymously with "intaglio." A metal plate
(zinc or copper) is covered with an acid-resistant ground, on which a design is scratched
with a variety of sharp tools. The plate is then immersed in an acid bath, and the acid eats
away (bites, etches) the areas exposed where the resinous ground has been scratched away.
The longer a plate has been left in the acid, the deeper and hence darker the etched areas
become. The plate may be inked and impressions pulled from it, as above.
- Technically, aquatint is a form of etching, using tonal values instead of lines. The plate is
lightly coated with a powdered porous ground (such as finely-powdered resin, or spray paint),
through which the acid bites, to give tonal effects like ink or water colour washes. To allow
for varying degrees of darkness, areas may be "stopped-out" with an acid resistant varnish at
any stage of the etching, and the time may be varied in which areas of the plate are exposed
to the acid. Aquatint is generally used in conjunction with etching.
- A plate is roughened with a network of small burred dots, applied by a toothed "rocker", and
which, if printed, would produce a rich black. To achieve tonal variations, up to white, the
plate is scratched and brushed to various degrees, to determine how much ink is accepted. To
smoother the surface, the less receptive it is to ink. It is inked and printed as above.
- Drypoint is often used in conjunction with etching. It consists simply of drawing on a metal
plate with a sharp graver. The burr left by the furrowed metal catches the ink and yields a
rich printed line. Because of the fragility of the burr, plates with drypoint details cannot
bear very many impressions.
- Relief is the opposite in principle to intaglio. The image is drawn on the block or plate, and
all else is carved or gouged out from around it, so that the drawing stands out in relief. The
drawing presents the surface which is inked, then. As opposed to intaglio, the recessed areas
- Silkscreen or Serigraphy
- Literally "writing on silk," serigraphy also is the favoured method of commercial or mass
print production. Based on stencil techniques, it involves a masking of a fabric screen
either by a paper stencil or a glue sizing. Through the screen areas left open (unmasked)
ink or paint is applied, to a sheet of paper below. Silk screening does not require a press.