Printmaking Terms





cross-section of a relief printing block with ink on the top surface


Woodcut and wood engraving are also techniques of relief printmaking.  Wood blocks can’t withstand the high pressure of intaglio presses; they are printed on letterpress, by hand, or on roller presses especially designed for relief printing.c



cross-section of a beveled monotype plate with ink on the top surface

Planographic prints are designed on, and printed from, a flat surface.  Monotypes are printed on intaglio and other roller presses.  Lithographs are traditionally printed from a specially prepared flat stone surface.  Lithography uses the chemical properties of oil-based drawing media and inks, and their resistance to water, to create printed images. Lithographs are printed on specially designed lithography presses.





cross section of an intaglio printing plate showing etching (irregular recesses) and engraving (“v” cut)

Intaglio (pronounced in-tah-lee-o/ in-tag-lee-o) printmaking requires a special machine called an etching or intaglio printing press.  This kind of press achieves a sensitive transfer of image to paper with high, even pressure.  Metal intaglio printmaking plates can be etched with acids, scribed with a drypoint needle (which raises a burr) and engraved with a burin. Any kind of mark that removes metal from the image surface will hold some amount of ink that will print.  The inked intaglio plate is wiped to draw the ink into the plate’s recesses and remove excess ink from polished areas. Lydia’s Press is an etching press.