The act of creation often goes beyond getting an idea or an image, but also how to transmit and translate this idea
into a physical environment. That is why artists prove, combine and invent different techniques and materials to get
one that gives them more satisfaction. In the world of Graphic Work there is a diversity of printing techniques
thanks to this constant search of artists. We have selected some of these techniques to give the reader a general
idea of how a original print is "brought to the world".
The word "engraving" was used to describe a generically different printing techniques, even to refer to the Graphic
Work in general. Strictly speaking, etching refers only to a group of techniques where the image is carved
(chiseled, bitten, etc.) on a sheet of wood, stone or metal, which is then inked, transferring the image to paper by
means of a press. Printmaking techniques are divided into two groups according to the way the ink is transferred to
Relief Etching: The ink is transferred from the prominent parts of the plate to the paper. The woodcut and
linocut are relief etching techniques .
Hollow Etching (Intaglio): Ink is transferred from the cavities of the plate to the paper. Etching,
Mezzotint, Aquatint and Carborundum Etching are most popular Intaglio techniques.
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Linoleum was invented in England in 1863 by Frederick Walton, who gave him the name derived from the Latin
Linum which means linen and Oleum which means oil. A thick mixture of oxidized linseed oil
combined with pine resin to produce long, thin slices.
This technique involves carving the image on a sheet of linoleum, removing the "white" image to print uncut areas.
Being a soft material, it is very easy to work on it but at the same time is less resistant and only allows short
editions. Nor they can achieve many details and very fine lines. Due to the ease of carving, this technique is
widely used for education, but great artists as Matisse and Picasso made linoleum prints.
Carborundum (silicon carbide) is a mineral of high hardness that is used, among other things as an abrasive. To
prepare the printing plate, carborundum can be used as an agent to iron out areas of a metal sheet and achieve
halftone printing. But the way to use it that gives its name to the technique today, was developed by Antoni Tapies
and involves mixing powder carborundum resin and other material to make a kind of collage on the plate
printing. Thanks to the strength of this material, with this technique you can make long runs of an edition. The
printed works with this technique are rich in texture and with a unique finish.
The woodcut or wood engraving is one of the oldest printing techniques. There are Chinese woodcuts from the first
century of our era.
On a block of hard wood (usually cherry, pear, apple or boxwood), the design is carved with gouges and chisels to
discard the "white" of the image so that the "stain" is embossed. Then the wood is inked with a roller, the paper is
placed and passed through the press to print the sheet.
It consists of draw directly and freehand on a sheet of copper or zinc, with a very sharp fine-tipped instrument. In
drypoint, the needle leaves a small burrs on the inked plate to produce a blurred effect printing, which is
particular for this technique. The rapid wear of these burrs, makes the plate can only be used for short runs.
It is considered one of the most difficult techniques or at least the most laborious. The process begins by plotting
a copper foil with a serrated instrument shaped like a half moon, with horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. A
"plate in black" is obtained, because is the resulting color if printed at this stage (hence the name mezzotint
or black way). From this time the artist must scrape or sand the surface partially or fully to achieve
gradations of tone. One feature of the mezzotint is the unique velvety finish. Mario Avati and Mikio Watanabe are
among the contemporary artists who still use this technique.
From the Greek word lithos (stone), this technique relies on the principle that oil and water are rejected.
On a prepared limestone an image is drawn with grease pencils, this plate is moistened with water and when the ink
is applied, it adheres only to areas previously drawn. This system was invented by the German Alois Senefelder in
1796, in his search for a economic form of printing his scores. Over the years this method became industrialized and
although any kind of "rock" is no longer used, it continued to use the name lithography. That is why the
word lithography has a duality of meanings in the art world. A "lithography" could be a poster made with
industrial printing machines for mass runs. Or it may be a limited edition Graphic Work done with the original
printing technique where you draw freehand on a limestone. Some authors refer to the latter as "stone lithography",
which although redundancy serves to differentiate from industrial craftsmanship.
This word comes from the Greek "serikos" (silk) and refers to the printing system in which a processed
fabric is stretched over a wooden frame. Ink is then spread over this fabric letting pass the ink in certain areas.
The modern version of this method consists of preparing a fine mesh cloth (or nylon) applying a photosensitive
emulsion, then the image is placed as a transparency in black and white and is exposed to strong light. The
illuminated parts harden into an impermeable layer. This mesh is washed to remove debris and tensioned in a rigid
frame. To print the image on paper or canvas, with frame is placed face down, pour a little ink within the frame and
spread with a rubber spatula.
It is one of the most recent printing techniques of graphic works. The name comes from French and means "stream",
which is how the ink gets to the paper. The artist can create an image directly from a computer or scanned image to
work it on the monitor. Using a special type of high-resolution printers with pigmented inks and treated papers,
unparalleled image is created and in formats never seen before.