- Autolithography is a planographic technique that employs a transfer method on which a design is drawn onto a piece of paper with autolithographic ink and is then transferred onto a lithographic stone. High pressure must be utilized in the transfer process so that the ink pigment fully adheres to the stone.
At its height, autolithography was employed in advertising materials, as well as in large illustrated children’s books. The technique has been utilized in Barnett Freedman’s autolithographic works for the classic literature of War and Peace, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Oliver Twist, Lavengro, Anna Karenina and Henry IV Part I. Noteworthy illustrator Lynton Lamb also created autolithographic works for Trollope’s Can You Forgive Her? Additionally, Frederick Muller also used the medium in his series Excursions into English Poetry.
- The chromolithograph process is a planographic (flat surface, as opposed to raised or relief) printing method, which is employed in creating multiple colored prints. The technique involves drawing an image onto a stone or zinc plate with a grease-based crayon. The stone is then gummed with gum arabic and nitric acid. Then, the stone is inked with oil-based paints and run through a printing press in conjunction with a sheet of paper, which is used to transfer the image onto the paper. Color is added by utilizing a separate stone to draw where the color is to be applied. It then passes through the printing press with a separate sheet of paper to which it is transferred. If a particular artwork employs a variety of colors, it is not unusual for up to 25 stones to be used in the process. Each piece of paper will run through the printing press for each individual color needed. Dependent on the detail, care and amount of colors, each print may take skilled workers several months to create. However, the opposite is also true, if the prints do not employ a great number of colors or detail the product may be easily mass produced in a more cost and time effective manner.
Godefroy Engelmann of Mulhouse, France, is credited with the invention of chromolithography, as he was awarded the patent in 1837; though, there is controversy over whether the method was discovered previously. The chromolithograph printing process came into widespread use during the mid to late 1800s, when it was utilized to produce advertising posters, fine arts publications, cigar labels, scientific and medical books, greeting cards, wedding announcements, children’s literature and more. In 1840, William Sharp became the first American artist to employ the technique when he created a portrait of Reverend F. W. P. Greenwood. Following the American Civil War, chromolithographs became very popular among the middle class, as it replicated fine hand painted oil based artworks and paintings for a reasonable cost. Unfortunately, this handicraft that transformed the printing industry with its vivid colors had virtually disappeared by the 1930s. Today, a limited number of chromolithographs exist in quality condition, as most deteriorated due to the acidic frames in which they were placed.
- The collotype medium (also referred to as photocollography or photogelatine) is a planographic, photomechanical process, which does not employ a halftone screen to break down the image into dots. The collotype process involves a plate (usually of glass or metal) coated in a light-sensitive emulsion and exposed via a photographic negative. Once the gelatin dries and hardens in the exposed portions, it is submerged in glycerin. The hardened areas absorb the ink, while the glycerin is absorbed in the softer areas. Next, the design is inked with a roller, hand press, printing press or brayer. Lastly, a sheet of paper is placed over the plate and run through a press to be printed.
The history of the collotype process dates back to the 19th century when it was employed for mass mechanical printing, prior to the emergence of the more inexpensive alternative of offset lithography. It was also utilized on old postcards, business cards, invitations, script lettering, fine art photography, as well as for the fine reproductions of halftone prints and tonal series.
- ▼Copper Engraving
- The copper engraving process began with the artist etching his or her design onto a sheet of copper with a burr-engraving tool (as well as a scraper to remove excess burr). The artist had to etch the design as a reverse image, so when it was transferred onto paper via a printing press it would appear as the original. Thus, many artists would position the original artwork at an angle so they could place a mirror below it to properly view the reverse image for etching. Consequently, many overworked artists often produced mistakes in their etchings, including reversing right and left or reversing a letter. A benefit of the copper medium was that it could be employed hundreds of times before the metal had deteriorated beyond use. Additionally, the copper material proved beneficial as it allowed alterations, corrections and updates to plates. This was made possibly by heating the metal and pounding out the area which required amending, polishing it and re-engraving the area. However, a pitfall of the process was that the heavier engraved lines caused the plate to preemptively crack. Overall, a successful copper engraving appears softer with thicker lines spaced farther apart.
The history of copper engravings actually dates back to the 15th century, as a branch of the goldsmith trade. From the late 15th century into the 16th century, the art of copper engravings was expanded and improved upon by the Italian and Nuremburg School. Today, a majority of copper engravings are created via laser or with the aid of other mechanically advanced methods.
- The etching process involves covering a metal plate (usually of copper, zinc or steel) with a waxy base that is resistant to acid erosion. Next, the plate is carved into with sharp tools. The plate is then submerged in an acid bath. Then, the remaining waxy base is removed from the plate. Next, ink is applied to the plate, settling into the recessed or incised areas. The entire plate is wiped clean (the recessed areas will still hold the ink) and run through a high pressure printing press, along with a piece of damp paper, which transfers the image from the metal plate to the paper, thus resulting in the final product.
Etching dates back to the Middle Ages in Europe (if not dating back even farther) when goldsmiths and metalworkers etched decorative elements into armor, guns, dishware and more. Etching, in regards to printmaking, has been attributed to Daniel Hopfer of Augsburg, Germany (circa 1470). The etching technique has been used in aquatint, engravings and more. Historically, noteworthy artists who have employed this medium include Francisco Goya, Rembrandt and many others.
- A halftone print is a graphic reproduction technique, utilized either through mechanical or electrical mediums. The process employs a series of dots, which may vary in size, shape, or spacing, in a fixed pattern to produce a simulated continuous tone or image. These dots are then broken up by a screen, which varies in its number of lines per inch. The screen is then inserted over the plate being exposed. The result is an optical illusion, which the human eye systematically blends into one continuous tone or image.
During the early 1850s, William Fox Talbot was credited with the invention of the halftone printing process, as he was the first to suggest the use of photographic screens in the printmaking technique, intaglio. This process involved cutting into a surface, matrix or plate, and employing the protruding area for receiving ink, leaving the recessed areas ink-free. In 1880, the New York Daily Graphic became the first to create a reproduction of a photograph in their publication. While there have been many successful and unsuccessful attempts at improving the in-depth and time consuming halftone process, it was not until the 1970s that technology began to compound exponentially after electric dot generators were invented and implemented into the printmaking process; thus, making the halftone printmaking handicraft a greatly respected pastime.
- The intaglio printmaking process encompasses etchings, engravings, aquatints, drypoint, mezzotint, photogravures and, occasionally, collographs. The actual intaglio technique involves incising areas, with chemicals and carving tools, on copper, steel or zinc plates. Once a plate is incised with carving tools, it is dipped into an acid bath. Next, ink is applied to the plate by wiping the plate, thus further pushing the ink into the recessed areas. Then, the plate is rubbed with a tarlatan cloth to remove excess ink. Finally, the plate is covered with a damp piece of paper and run through a rolling press, which applies heavy and even pressure. The paper backing is then removed, resulting in the final product.
The intaglio technique originated in Germany during the 1430s. Historically, some noteworthy artists who have employed the technique include, Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt, Francisco Goya, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Max Klinger, Lucas van Leyden and Ludwig von Siegen. Today, the method is employed in currency, banknotes, valuable postage stamps and banknotes.
- The linocut technique is a relief based printing process, which employs similar tools as those used in woodcuts, including a V-shaped chisel or gouge. Design patterns are cut into a sheet of linoleum (sometimes mounted on a wood block, as well). When the block is finished, it is inked with a roller or brayer and then printed on paper (by hand or press). The raised portions of the linoleum block are the only parts that leave an impression. Color linocuts were made possible by using separate blocks for each color. Then, after each color was imprinted, the artist would wipe the lino plate clean and cut away what was not to be imprinted. The process continued in a consecutive manner until all colors were applied. It was not until Picasso established a technique for creating color linocuts with a single block that the process became more effective and time efficient.
The linocut process was originally used in Germany between 1905 and 1913 by German artist Die Brucke. During this period, the process was primarily used for printing wallpaper. At this time, the artists who employed this method often referred to the process as a woodcut, as it sounded more “respectable” as a print process. American artists did not utilize the technique until the 1940s. Artists who regularly employed the lino process, included Pablo Picasso, Karl Rossing, Christian Rohlfs and Maurice Vlaminck. In more modern times, the linocut process was used for creating posters and advertisements. It was also a method frequently employed by those who did not have access to the advanced mechanical techniques of commercial printing. Today, the linocut process is frequently utilized by street artists, including, but not limited to Josh MacPhee, Jim Pollock and “Swoon.”
- The lithograph process begins by the artist employing grease-based crayons or pencils to draw a mirror image of his or her design onto a stone tablet. At this point, oily ink is applied to the stone tablet design, the ink bonding directly to the grease-based drawing. Then, water is wiped onto the unpainted portions so as to avoid ink smears and runoff. Next, a sheet of paper is placed over the tablet. The use of lithographic turpentine is then employed, and the printer removes any excess grease from the design. The greasy film that remains is now ready for ink application. During the printing process, the tablet is kept wet with water. Dry oil printing ink, such as linsed oil and pigment-dense varnish, are then rolled over the stone’s surface. This results in the hydrophobic (water-repelling) areas to absorb the applied ink, while the hydrophilic (water-retaining) portions remain ink-free. Lastly, the paper and stone tablet enter the press, which applies uniform pressure over the surface; thus, transferring the ink from the stone to the paper. If multiple colors are included in the lithograph, the repetition of the process is employed for each ink color, utilizing the same paper to be placed over the re-inked plates.
Lithography was originally invented in 1796, by Alois Senefelder, who employed the process as an inexpensive means to printing theatrical works. Historically, famous artists who have employed the lithography medium include Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Daumier, George Bellows, Max Kahn, Jean Francois Millet, Adolf Menzel, Eleanor Coen, M. C. Escher, Grant Wood, Chagall, Matisse, Bresdin and more. However, since the lithography process was so expensive and time-intensive, replications were a rarity in efforts to preserve the art’s value. Thus, many of the lithograph reproductions were only produced up to a certain amount requiring these lithographs to be numbered (26/240, for example). During the 20th century, several artists utilized the technique in the form of posters to promote their artwork. In modern times, offset technology is utilized for the lithograph medium, making high-volume lithography possible. Today, the technique is often used in newspapers, maps, posters, books and more.
- ▼Offset Lithograph
- Offset Lithography involves photographic negatives being exposed through a measured amount of light, thus developing the image onto a printing plate. Next, ink is applied onto the plate with a series of ink and water printing press rollers. Then, the plate’s image is transferred (via a printing press) onto a rubber blanket, which, in turn, transfers the image to the paper. The paper is then dried in a gas-fired oven to avoid ink smears and ink transfers. After, the paper enters a series of water-cooled metal rollers, which cools the paper and sets the ink. When color is employed, as it usually is in an offset lithograph, a four-color printing process is employed (regardless of the actual amount of colors in the lithograph), which requires each of the primary colors to have their own individual plate.
Offset Lithography is generally utilized in the creation of posters, magazines and brochures. Its primary advantage is that nearly the entire process can be done with the use of a series of rollers, which greatly reduces the time it takes to produce the product, as well as increases the commercial value of the medium.
- The photogravure is an intaglio (a carved or incised design that holds ink) or photomechanical printmaking process that is lengthy and time-consuming, requiring great skill, delicacy and patience. The first step involves creating a tone film positive from the original photographic negative. Next, the film positive is impressed with a sensitized gelatin carbon tissue and submerged into an oxidizing chemical agent (generally potassium dichromate). Once the tissue is dried the film positive is placed atop it. Next, the two are simultaneously exposed to ultraviolet light, which hardens the gelatin and adheres it onto the copper plate, which is done beneath a layer of water. When the tissue is properly fitted into place, the water is pressed from the tissue and any excess is wiped clean. Then, the product is immersed into a warm bath in efforts to remove the paper backing, as well as the softer exposed gelatin. The remaining layer of hardened gelatin forms a corrosion resist on the copper plate. Next, the copper plate is etched in a series of density-varying chemical baths (usually ferric chloride is employed), beginning with the most dense and moving to the least. The etching occurs from the darkest to the lightest as the plate is transferred to sequentially more diluted baths. The recessed areas hold the ink. Next, an intaglio printing ink is applied to the entirety of the surface by a brayer, thus driving the ink securely into the etched recessed wells. The plate is then wiped clean of excess ink. Next, the copper plate is covered with a sheet of damp rag paper and a few thin wool blankets and run through an intaglio press. The high-pressure press drives the paper fibers into the recessed areas of the plate, consequently transferring the ink design onto the paper, creating the impression. Lastly, the paper is gently peeled from the plate and placed between weighted blotters for a clean and dry finished product.
The photogravure technique is the oldest form of photographic reproduction. Originally invented during the early 19th century by Nicephore Niepce of France, the technique was later perfected by other photography pioneers, who desired to create a photograph that would not allow for fading. Unfortunately, today, the photogravure process has virtually vanished with only several dozen photogravure workshops existent in the world; thus making it an incredible, and highly sought after, art form of the past.
- The photolithography technique employs a microfabrication process (a method used in the creation of extremely small patterns of micrometer or nanometer sizes and smaller), which removes portions of a thin film or the bulk of a substrate coating, which is utilized once the photolithographic geometric pattern has been transferred via ultra violet light from a photomask (an opaque plate with transparencies that allow light to emit through a specific pattern) to a light-sensitive chemical photoresist on the substrate. Next, a series of chemical treatments is used to engrave the pattern or enable a new material to be deposited in the pattern beneath the photoresist. The chemical etching process may be liquid or dry and is used to remove the topmost layer of the substrate in the portions not protected by the photoresist. When the photoresist is no longer needed it is removed from the substrate with a resist stripper or by an oxygen plasma, which oxidizes it.
- Pochoir, the French word for “stenciling,” is a manual technique that has been employed since prehistoric times when stencils were used to color cloth. However, the specific pochoir printmaking process dates back to more than a thousand years ago in China, when it was used to color formerly black and white prints. During the 1800s, the pochoir technique exploded in France, when it was utilized in commercial publishing. It was since employed in French high fashion and haute couture publications, such as Le Jardin Des Dames et des Modes, as well as the Gazette du Bon Ton: arts, modes and frivolities.” Pochoir was also utilized during the 1920s and 1930s to promote Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles.
The Pochoir printmaking process is a manual stenciling technique used to create new prints or to add color to previously black and white prints. Historically, the process began with the coupeur (stencil cutter), who would carve stencils from a type of metal, including, but not limited to, aluminum, copper or zinc (later the stencils would be crafted from plastic of celluloid). The stencils (often between 20 and 250) would then be given to the colorists, who would apply pigment to the product. Often, gouache was employed in the process, which resulted in build up along the stencil’s edge, creating a surface elevation that was both visible and tactile. Historically, the pochoir process has been utilized in lithography, engravings and photography. As the pochoir process traditionally required a great amount of skill and time, the result was an expensive and slow printmaking process. Thus, lithography and serigraphy methods have since replaced the unique handicraft of the pochoir process.
- The photogravure process utilizes a rotating cylindrical printing press, generally created from steel and plated with copper. Historically, however, the cylinder press was engraved with a diamond stylus or chemically etched with the pollutant ferric chloride. Today, most are engraved with a laser. The standard process for rotogravure printing involves the engraved cylinder being partly submerged in the ink fountain, which fills the concave areas. These sunken cells must be strategically set, as the deeper the cell the denser the ink propensity; likewise, the shallow cells produce a lighter density. Ink is then drawn out of the fountain as the cylinder turns. Next, the doctor blade scraper brushes across the cylinder prior to contacting the paper, thus removing the appropriate amount of excess ink from the recessed portions. The paper is then compressed between the cylinder and the impression roller, thereby transferring the ink from the concave portions onto the paper. Next, the paper enters a drying mechanism, before repeating the process with an additional layer of colored ink.
The rotogravure method developed during the early 19th century; however, it was not until nearly 100 years later that the technique became widespread and began to be used in conjunction with photography and fine art reproductions. It was around this time that the newspaper industry began utilizing the process, though they generally only employed the method for photographs and certain sections of the Sunday edition newspapers. In fact, the first known daily newspaper to incorporate the rotogravure process was the Freiburger Zeitung of Freiburg, Germany in 1910. The first American newspaper to utilize the method was the New Yorker in 1912. Unfortunately, only the most lucrative newspaper companies were able to afford the costly equipment required. However, following the close of World War I, newspapers employing the pricey process began to increase exponentially as it had been discovered that the sections where the rotogravure process was featured became the most widely read, consequently generating greater readership and increasing the success of rotogravure-based advertisements. Often, the rotogravure technique was employed in war documentation, as well as in high society achievements, promoting and popularizing classic paintings and demonstrating the jovial life of Americans following the war. Today, the rotogravure method is still a popular process used in the commercial printing of magazine publications, as well as in cardboard packaging, on postcards and more. It is often viewed as a preferred method since the printing process repels the smearing of ink and color variations, making it an optimal technique for bundling and shipping immediately.
- The serigraph or silkscreen process is a reductive printing method that employs a stencil containing a porous woven mesh screen, which is layered with pigment (generally ink is utilized) and rolled over with a brayer. Or squeegee. The stencil can be made of a variety of materials, including paper, plastic or stencil fluid. If the artist chooses to employ the stencil fluid method he or she can apply the paint with a brush, palette knife or stylus, which creates a truer painted look.
A serigraph is especially unique because only a limited amount may be created from the same stencil, as it erodes over time due to the friction of the squeegee or roller; thus true serigraphs are only produced in Limited Edition form, which usually equates to less than 200. Generally, after the edition has been produced, the original stencil and screen are destroyed, thus guarding against any other prints of the image being created in the future. Serigraphs are also highly sought after as each individual print is not an exact replica of the previous, due to the amount of pressure, ink distribution and other variables that occur during the process; thus ensuring a true one-of-a-kind product. Additionally, because the artist is only required to draft one design for the entire limited edition collection, costs are significantly reduced, which makes each print a more affordable form of exquisite art. However, the actual reproduction process can be extremely time intensive as, assuming the serigraph is in color, each color requires its own individual plate. Plus, only two colors are generally printed per day. Therefore, if a serigraph includes around sixty colors, which is the average amount used, the product will take around six weeks for the reproduction printing process to be complete.
The screen printing technique was originally developed during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) in ancient China (prior to silk, human hair was used). The screen printing method was not introduced into Western Europe until the late 18th century, though it did not become a popular medium until silk was more readily available through the trade industry. The method was finally patented in England in 1907 by Samuel Simon.
- ▼Steel Engraving
- The steel engraving process began with the artist etching his or her design onto a sheet of steel with a burr-engraving tool (as well as a scraper to remove excess burr). The artist had to etch the design as a reverse image, so when it was transferred onto paper via a printing press it would appear as the original. Thus, many artists would position the original artwork at an angle so they could place a mirror below it to properly view the reverse image for etching. Consequently, many overworked artists often produced mistakes in their etchings, including reversing right and left or reversing a letter. Steel engravings can be discerned by their near silvery appearance, sharper detail and closer lines.
The history of steel engravings dates back to the 18th century, when it replaced the copper medium, since steel deteriorated at a much slower rate during the printing process. The steel medium also permitted much finer detail to be introduced into the engraving. However, the actual engraving process became more difficult due to the finer and harder tools needed for the metal. During the latter part of the 18th century, the ruling machine was developed, which was utilized to engrave mass amounts of close parallel lines, employed in areas such as skies. By the mid 19th century, steel engravings employed various specialists to engrave specific aspects of the design, which, consequently, gradually reduced the art form’s value. In turn, the engraving process became more of a manufacturing trade as opposed to an artistic one. Today, the steel engraving art form still exists, though has proved rare. In modern times, this process is employed by computerized stencils that transfer the ink.
- A Typogravure is a photographic reproduction method that utilizes a photograph or a photograph of an artist’s drawing. First, a printing plate is created from a photosensitive gelatin relief. Then, a screen is placed between the photographic negative and the inked and letterpress-developed image, which results in the light being transferred into a tiny dot pattern (hence the term “halftone”), thus producing an optical illusion of a continuous tone.
The Typogravure process originated in France around 1890. Historically, the medium has been used in dime novels, cartoons and story papers. A benefit to the technique is that it did not require skilled wood engravers, consequently creating a less expensive product. However, the process was eventually forfeited in lieu of simpler halftone printing methods that began to surface.
- The wood cut technique utilizes the relief printing process (ink is impressed via a roller or brayer upon the raised or un-incised areas) on which a wood block is employed as the medium (Often, cherry wood or beechwood has been utilized). The level areas of the design are the parts that are inked with a brayer or roller, while the areas to show white are carved away with a knife, gouge or standard chisel. In contrast to a wood engraving, where end grain cutting is used, the woodcut is carved along the grain of the wood. The artist’s design can be fastened to the wood by glue or the artist can carve their design directly into the wood; regardless, only low and even pressure is needed in a printing press. If color is needed, a different block must be used for each color. Often woodcuts are referred to as “designed by” as opposed to “by” since the woodcutter is generally not the actual artist who drafted the design. However, most art experts do not utilize the distinction. While this division of labor between artist and woodcutter was beneficial to the actual artist, as he or she did not need to learn the woodcarving craft, it later proved to diminish the quality of the product in attempts to mass produce woodcuts.
The oldest known color woodcuts date back to ancient China and were of three Buddhist images. The first woodcut illustrated book is estimated to have surfaced around 1461, which had been printed by Albrecht Pfister in Bramberg, Bavaria, Germany. Though there are many more, some of the noteworthy artists who have employed the woodcut technique include Vincent Van Gogh, Antonio Frasconi, Aubrey Beardsley, M. C. Escher and Susan Dorthea White.
- ▼Wood Engraving
- The traditional wood engraving process involved boxwood or other hardwoods, including lemonwood and cherry wood (today, PVC is generally employed) to carve (generally with cross-hatching and dot patterns) a design across the end grain of the wood type. The wood engraving technique utilized the relief process, where ink would be applied to the raised surfaces of the wooden block, which had been previously carved with a burin engraving tool. Then, the design would be printed with a conventional roller printing press from ink rubbed into the concave portions. Later, the designs could be transferred onto wood blocks photographically, thus improving the time-intensive process. If a wood engraving involved multiple colored inks, the process had to be repeated for each color needed.
Historically, wood engravings have been employed in almanacs, newspapers, currency, advertising, government announcements and more. Those who have been known to utilize the process included, Rockwell Kent, Paul Revere, William Blake, Francisco de Goya and many others. Today, a great majority of engravings are computerized or created via laser.
- ▼Woodbury Type
- The photomechanical woodbury method utilizes a relief printing process (the ink is impressed via a roller or brayer upon the raised or un-incised areas) whereby light sensitized (generally Ultra Violet rays are employed) translucent carbon pigment is suspended in warm gelatin and applied to the relief surface. Next, the pigment gelatin matrix is hardened by an alum bath, washed, dried, trimmed, mounted onto a sheet of lead and run through a press. The product is then run through another press where the impression is applied onto a sheet of paper. Usually, the resulting lead mould is submerged in a warm bath, whence the artist may gently remove the paper backing for the finished product.
The woodbury process was originally developed by American inventor Walter B. Woodbury in 1864. Historically, the method has been employed in book illustrations, decorative glass products, photograph reproductions and advertising materials. Drawbacks to the technique were that it proved to be extremely time and labor intensive with a small margin for error. However, it was also the first method of its time not to be required to employ a halftone screen, grain screen or deconstruction process. The woodbury process, even by modern day standards, proves to be one of the most exquisite art forms, producing a light-sensitive warm silvery, gleaming, almost 3D effect. It is nearly impossible to digitally view the true visual magnificence of a woodbury type.