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All About Print Making
Relife Printing
What is a Graphic Art Print? What is an Original Print? What is a Fine Print? Techniques of Graphic Print Making Glossary
Relife Printing
Intaglio Printing Planographic Printing Some Other Techniques
In this technique, the artist draws imagery on the desired matrix and then cuts away pieces from the surface, leaving only the imagery raised. Then, ink is applied on to the surface with a roller and the image is transferred to the paper with a press or by hand burnishing or rubbing. Since the recessed, cut away areas do not receive ink, they appear white on the printed image. A relief print typically has bold dark-ligh contrasts and an impression into the paper of the inked lines. The various relief-printing techniques are…

Wood cut

Woodcut is the earliest and most enduring, in that it is still practiced, of all print techniques. While woodcuts were first seen in ninth-century China, Western artists have made woodcut prints since the fourteenth century. They were originally conceived as religious icons and sold as souvenirs or a pilgrimage to some holy site. Woodcut soon became a popular medium for the mass distribution of religious and instructive imagery in Europe, not least through books since, with the invention of moveable type, the woodblocks matrix could be set in the same press with the text and both text and image printed together. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, woodcuts were developed in Japan to an exceptional level of artistic achievement, what is known as the ukiyo-e period or style.

Wood Engravings
Wood Engravings are made from the end-grain surface of very hard wood, usually boxwood, as opposed to woodcuts, which are made from side-grain planks of wood neither so hard nor so expensive. Rather than cutting away non-printing areas with a knife, wood engravings are made with fine engraving tools, which, however, engrave the non-printing areas. As in woodcuts, it is the surface that takes the ink and prints. Incredible precision and detail is possible in this technique.

Chiaroscuro Woodcuts
Chiaroscuro Woodcuts involve the use of several blocks, often one for each colour to be used and sometimes one to outline the composition of the image. Printing a sheet of paper, with each of the blocks, in turn, using some method of registration, to avoid misplacement or overlapping makes the print. Where a non-Printing area has been cut out of all the blocks, the natural white of the paper shows through in the finished print, giving the reason for the name Chiaroscuro (Light-Dark). Usually no more than three or four blocks are used and the purpose of the technique is to imitate the appearance of a wash drawing, not to attempt to capture reality.

Colour Woodcuts
Colour Woodcuts, in the West a product of the nineteenth century, use the same technique as chiaroscuros, but often carried to an enormous complexity of multiple blocks and over-lapping, and they commonly employ more realistic colours. The greater the complexity, the greater the rates of failed or imperfect impressions, so impressions of many colour woodcuts are both rare and Expensive. In Japan the colour woodcut had much earlier become the dominant print technique and the complexities and subtleties of the greatest masterpieces have probably never been equalled elsewhere.

White Line Woodcut
White Line Woodcut, This is a technique developed in America that allows a colour woodcut print to be produced from a single block. The outline of the design is cut away (so that it will not print) and the desired colours are painted on the block, always separated by the cut-away outline. When printed, the image shows a white line delimiting each area of colour.

Linocuts are printed from a linoleum block, usually backed with wood for reinforcement. The linoleum is handled in exactly the same way as a wood block but, since it does not have a wood grain, the surface of the resulting print will have less texture. Colour linocuts are produced by the same method as colour woodcuts. The material takes all types of lines but is most suited to large designs with contrasting tints.
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