Printmaking Terms

Today I will be defining some common terms used in printmaking. Don’t worry, I won’t test you! Think of this as a resource as you continue to read my posts. You can always come back to this post if you’re looking for something new to try as well!

Aquatint is a printmaking technique that produces tones rather than linework. This process falls under intaglio. The artists make marks on a plate, a similar technique to etching but on a copper or zinc surface. The plate is inked and goes through a printing press to transfer the ink on to a piece of paper.

A Collagraph is a printmaking technique that resembles a collage. To put a collagraph together materials of your choice are glued on to a printing plate (usually a piece of cardboard). Once the glue dries the collagraph is ready to make prints.

Drypoint is when an image is scratched onto a plate with fine-tipped metal tools. This process falls under intaglio techniques.

Engraving is the act of cutting grooves onto a hard flat surface to create a design. An engraving can be used to make prints or can be seen as it’s own work of art.

Etching is a form of intaglio printmaking. It’s a process where acid or mordant is used to incise a design on a metal plate.

Embossing is a relief printmaking technique that creates raised patterns and edges on paper. The design is not inked and the shape of the paper is the design.

The Intaglio Printing technique is used when a design is engraved or incised to a surface. The incised area is what holds the ink for the printing process. Etching, engraving, drypoint, and aquatint are all part of intaglio printmaking.

A Linocut is a printmaking technique similar to woodcut. A sheet of linoleum is used as a relief surface. A design is cut away from the surface with a sharp tool. The raised areas are then inked and printed.

Lithography is a printmaking technique that does not require carving. Instead, it relies on the principle that grease and water repel. A design is made on a flat surface using a greasy crayon and then the surface is covered with a thin film of water. When applied, the ink will stick to the greasy image and will repel from the non-image areas.

A Monoprint is a printmaking technique that begins with an etched plate. The plate is the base of monoprint but the impressions are made with various pigments and designs so that each print is similar but still unique.

A Monotype is a printmaking technique that produces a one-of-a-kind image when printed. An image is painted on to a flat surface that transfers directly onto paper and cannot be reproduced.

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