Types of Prints
Printing is the act of transferring a design onto another material. The introduction of digital printing has given rise to the mass-production of prints and has provided artists with the opportunity to create reproductions of their original artworks. However, manual printing techniques still remain a popular form of printing for many artists, with the various processes producing fascinating results.
Etching uses a chemical process to engrave sheets of metal with an intricate design. The design is first drawn onto the thin acid-resistant substance that sits on the surface of a copper plate. The plate is then coated in acid which engraves the lines into the exposed metal sheet. Next, the plate is coated in ink and wiped away so that the remaining ink sits in the recessed lines. Finally, the metal surface is pressed onto paper where the ink will transfer.
The process of linocut printing is similar to that of etching. The difference in this case is that the material used is linoleum and no acid is used to define the engraving. The smooth metal linoleum sheets are easy to carve, allowing artists greater freedom to create a wide range of lines.
Unlike the other printing styles described here, monoprints cannot be reproduced. The print is created from a material such as a carved woodblock or etched lithograph, that has the capacity to produce only a single print. Prints that are produced by one of the many printing methods and then individually reworked by hand are considered monoprints.
Screen printing takes its name from the mesh screen used in the printing process. A stencil is produced out of a thin material, such as paper, and placed over the mesh screen which is layered above a second sheet of paper. Ink is then squeezed down the screen, transferring the stencil’s design onto the paper below.
Woodcut printing is viewed as one of the oldest forms of printing, originating in China over 1,000 years ago. Initially, wood lettering and symbols were individually cut out, dipped in ink and then pressed onto materials to transfer the subject onto paper. By the 15th century, woodcut blocks were developed for whole images or texts to be carved, ink spread and then imprinted onto paper.