An intaglio technique for printing broad areas of tone from an etched metal plate, usually copper or zinc. It is often used in conjunction with etching or engraving. To prepare the plate, powdered rosin is dusted onto the surface, and the plate is heated. The rosin particles melt and adhere to the plate, forming a porous acid-resistant ground. When the plate is immersed in a bath of ferric chloride or Dutch mordant (solution of dilute hydrochloric acid with potassium chlorate), the acid bites around the grains of rosin, evenly etching the plate’s surface. In combination with stopping-out techniques (in which certain areas of the plate are masked to prevent further etching), this process can be repeated to create an infinite number of gradations in tone. When the ground is removed and the aquatint plate is inked, wiped, and printed, lightly etched areas print as lighter tones, whereas deeply etched areas print as darker tones. Its name, from the Italian acqua tinta (dyed water), alludes to its watercolor-like appearance.
An impression printed outside of the edition and designated for deposit in an archive collection of the workshop or publisher as a record of production. Archive proofs are signed by the artist.
An impression printed outside of the edition and designated for the artist’s personal use. Artist’s proofs are generally inscribed “artist’s proof” or “AP” and are typically signed and numbered by the artist. By convention, they are few in comparison to the number of prints in the edition.
In printmaking, a disk-shaped hand tool with a smooth, flat bottom and a grip or handle used for printing woodcuts and other relief prints. Made of wood, plastic, or bamboo husk, it is designed to rub (burnish) the back of a sheet of paper laid onto an inked block, aiding the transfer of ink from the block to the paper.
A printing method whereby an image or design is mechanically pressed or stamped onto a sheet of paper or other material without the use of ink, resulting in a bas-relief effect. Also called inkless intaglio.
An inkless or colorless embossed or debossed mark mechanically pressed or stamped on prints and multiples to identify the printer, workshop, or publisher responsible for its production. See also “Chop mark.”
A matrix used in relief printing, generally made of wood, linoleum, or metal.
Bon à tirer
From the French, meaning “good to pull,” this term signifies the artist’s approval for the printing of an edition by another hand. The bon à tirer proof is the final trial proof and the standard by which each impression of the edition will be judged for quality. It is inscribed “bon à tirer” or “BAT” and is signed or initialed by the artist. By convention, bon à tirer proofs become the property of the collaborating printer or workshop. Also known as “right to print” or “RTP” proof.
In printmaking, a manually operated roller, typically made of rubber or similar material, used for spreading ink on the inking table and applying ink to printing blocks or plates.
A coarse woven cloth of cotton or linen that has been stiffened with glue. Commonly used in bookbinding or portfolio-case construction.
A cutting tool with a metal shaft and sharp, beveled point used for engraving metal plates or end-grain wood blocks. The shaft is mounted in a mushroom-shaped handle designed to be cradled in the palm of the hand. Also called a graver.
A curved, polished metal tool used to flatten or smooth the surface of an etched or engraved metal printing plate to create highlights or lighten tones.
An industrial abrasive normally used in printmaking to resurface lithographic stones, it may also be used to create images, tones, or textures on collagraph printing matrices. In this process, carborundum grit (silicon carbide) is mixed with an acrylic medium or glue and applied directly to the printing plate or block with a brush, palette knife, or other implement. Once the mixture dries, it forms hardened areas of line or texture which can be inked and printed using intaglio or relief methods, or both. Because small amounts of carborundum are lost during the inking and printing process, large editions are generally not possible.
See “Chine collé.”
From the French, meaning “China paper attached with glue,” this printmaking technique is most often used in lithography and intaglio printing. A thin sheet of tissue paper, traditionally sourced from China, Japan, or India, is bonded to a heavier paper, providing a smoothly textured surface that facilitates printing finely detailed images from a stone, plate, or block. Under the pressure of the printing press, the two sheets become glued or bonded together as the image is being printed. Also called chine appliqué.
An embossed, debossed, or printed insignia used on prints and multiples to identify the printer, workshop, or publisher responsible for their production. Sometimes shortened to “chop.” See also “Blindstamp.”
In printmaking, materials or objects that are affixed to the surface of a print by gluing or other means and intended as part of the final composition.
A print made from a collaged or textured matrix built up from various materials affixed to a block or plate. Collagraphs may be printed in either intaglio or relief (or both) and are generally produced on an etching press.
A statement at the end of a book or accompanying a suite of prints giving information about its production and publication. A colophon generally credits the publication’s contributors and notes the editioning and copy number of the book or portfolio. The signatures of the artist, author, or other contributors may also be present. Also called justification page.
Color trial proof
A proof impression in a variant color or color sequence to aid the artist’s development of the completed print. If retained, they are inscribed “color trial proof” or “CTP” and may or may not be signed by the artist.
A completed print composed of two or more printed elements that may be arranged in variable configurations.
In printmaking, a small handheld pad made of rolled felt, leather, or cloth used for applying ink to a printing matrix or letterpress type. Also called dabber, ink ball, or poupée.
A work of art comprising two separate panels or sheets that are attached or hung together to form a single, unified composition.
An intaglio printing technique in which an image is scratched or incised directly on the surface of a metal or acrylic plate with a steel needle, burin, graver, or other sharp metal tool. The cutting action of the tool, like that of a plow making a furrow, leaves a residue along the line—a ragged ridge of displaced metal or plastic known as burr. When the plate is inked and wiped, both the incised lines and the burr hold ink, resulting in a velvety dark line on the print. Because the burr is fragile and wears down rapidly under the pressure of the printing press, drypoint plates generally yield relatively few satisfactory impressions. The life of copper plates can be extended by steel-facing, a form of electroplating that strengthens the surface of the plate.
The number of impressions printed from a completed matrix and signed or otherwise approved by the artist. The number of such impressions typically is limited and does not include proofs, such as artist’s proofs, printer’s proofs, presentation proofs, publisher’s proofs, or archive proofs.
Numbers inscribed on the individual prints in an edition, denoting the number of each impression and the size of the edition. This edition information is generally expressed using a numerical convention resembling a fraction, for example 6/20, meaning the sixth print from an edition of twenty, excluding proof impressions. Edition numbering does not normally record the actual sequence of printing.
An intaglio printing technique in which an image is incised into a metal plate, usually copper, with a tool called a burin or graver. All burr (the ragged ridge of metal or plastic displaced by the burin) remaining on the plate’s surface is removed with a scraper before the plate is prepared for printing. The plate is then inked, wiped, covered with a dampened sheet of paper, and run through a press. The press forces the paper into the engraved lines, causing the transfer of ink to paper.
An intaglio printing technique in which an acid-resistant ground of asphaltum, varnish, beeswax, or rosin is applied to the surface of a copper, zinc, or other type of metal plate. Using a steel etching needle, scribe, or other sharp tool, the artist scratches an image through the ground, exposing the underlying metal surface, Then the plate is immersed in a ferric chloride or Dutch mordant (solution of dilute hydrochloric acid with potassium chlorate), at which time the areas of exposed metal are bitten (etched) by the chemical action of the acid. The ground is removed, and the etched plate is inked, wiped, covered with a dampened sheet of paper, and run through a press. The press forces the paper into the etched lines, causing the transfer of ink to paper.
In etching and aquatint, an acid-resistant coating, such as asphaltum, varnish, beeswax, or rosin, which is applied to the surface of a metal printing plate, and then selectively removed by the artist to allow the acid to bite (etch) the plate and create the image. The remaining ground is then removed, and the etched plate is inked, wiped, covered with a dampened sheet of paper, and run through a press. Also called resist.
Paper that has been produced by manually dipping a wire mold and deckle frame into a liquid pulp of cotton, linen, mulberry, or other fibers.
Hors commerce proof
From the French, meaning “outside of trade.” An impression printed outside of the edition and retained by the publisher/workshop for commercial purposes and exhibition loans. These proofs are inscribed with the abbreviation “HC” and may or may not be signed by the artist. Hors commerce proofs are by convention never sold.
An individual print pulled from a printing matrix. It may or may not be part of an edition of prints.
See “Offset lithography.”
See “Blind embossing.”
Italian for “carving,” intaglio refers to a broad category of printing techniques in which images are cut, etched, or otherwise incised into metal or acrylic plates (sometimes wood blocks). The incised or etched plates are inked, wiped, covered with a dampened sheet of paper, and passed through a printing press. The press forces the paper into the incised or etched lines, which hold the ink, so that ink is transferred from the plate to the paper. The resulting image is the reverse of that on the printing matrix.
A durable, long-fiber paper traditionally made by hand in Japan from the inner bark of the kōzo plant, mitsumata shrub, or gampi tree, all of which belong to the mulberry family. Also called washi paper.
A printing plate (or block or stone) used as a guide for positioning other plates in multiple-color printing. It bears a complete or relatively detailed image and is usually printed in black or dark-colored ink.
Paper produced on wire molds with a distinctive pattern of thick (chain) and thin (laid) lines at right angles to one another, visible on the finished sheet.
A relief printing method by which text is printed from the raised surfaces of metal, wood, or hard plastic type. Letterpress is commonly used in the printing of text for fine, handmade limited-editions books. See also “Relief printing.”
An intaglio printing technique in which an image is drawn directly onto a metal printing plate with a water-soluble ink containing sugar, salt, or soap. After the ink has dried, the plate is covered with an acid-resistant ground and immersed in a water bath. The water dissolves the ink, which then lifts the ground from the plate, exposing the bare metal surface where the image had been drawn. The plate is then dusted with powdered rosin and etched in a ferric chloride or Dutch mordant (solution of dilute hydrochloric acid with potassium chlorate) in much the same manner as a conventional aquatint. When the plate is inked and printed, the resulting image mimics a brush or pen-and-ink drawing.
See “Linoleum cut.”
A relief printmaking technique similar to woodcut but with a linoleum sheet or block as the printing matrix. The image is made by carving into the linoleum with gouges, chisels, or knives. Because linoleum has no grain, it is generally easier to cut than wood. The intact areas of the linoleum will print, while areas that have been cut away do not print. To produce an impression, the carved linoleum sheet or block is inked with a brayer or dauber, covered with a dampened sheet of paper, and printed under manual pressure with a baren or the back of a wooden spoon, or in a printing press. Also called linocut. See also “Relief printing.”
A planographic printing technique based on the antipathy of oil and water. The image is drawn with grease crayons, lithographic pencils, ink (Citation: A grease-based liquid used to draw or paint images on lithographic stones or plates. It may also be used as a resist in etching or screenprinting.), or any other oil-based substance on a stone (usually Bavarian limestone) or a grained aluminum or zinc plate. The stone or plate is then treated with acid and gum arabic to make the image areas receptive to ink and the nonimage areas receptive to water. The printer dampens the matrix and applies an oil-based ink with a roller; ink adheres to the image areas and is repelled by the wet areas. Finally, a sheet of paper is placed on the matrix and run through a lithographic press. Each color of a multiple-color print requires a separate stone or plate.
Any printing surface, such as a metal plate, woodblock, acrylic sheet, or lithographic stone, which receives and then transfers ink to paper or other material during the printing process.
A printmaking technique in which an artist uses a single matrix, and then makes alterations—such as varying the inking, adding Citation: In printmaking, materials or objects that are affixed to the surface of a print by gluing or other means and intended as part of the final composition. elements, or using different papers—that render each impression unique. May be used to make variable editions.
A unique print made by drawing or painting on the surface of a glass, acrylic, or metal plate and then transferring the image onto a sheet of paper or other material by hand-applied pressure or use of a printing press. Sometimes a second, weaker “ghost” impression or “cognate” is printed from the same inked or painted matrix.
A three-dimensional artwork or wall hanging produced as an edition.
A planographic printing technique in which the image is transferred (offset) from the inked lithographic stone or plate to an intermediary surface, usually a rubber-covered cylinder (blanket), which in turn transfers the image to a sheet of paper. The image is reversed twice during the printing process and thus corresponds to the image on the matrix. Also known as indirect or offset printing.
The process of exposing a large area of the metal printing plate to the chemical action of acid without the application of any ground or resist, to create textures or other effects.
Any lithograph in which the image to be printed has been transferred to the printing matrix (stone or plate) by photographic or photomechanical means. See also “Lithography.”
A screenprinting technique in which images are photographically transferred to screens or stencils by means of light-sensitive emulsions. Printing then proceeds as in conventional screenprinting. See also “Screenprinting.”
A broad category of printmaking techniques in which the image is printed from a flat surface, as in lithography.
The embossed indentation made in a sheet of paper by an intaglio printing plate that has passed through a printing press.
Tone achieved in intaglio printing when a thin film of ink is intentionally left on the surface of a plate during the inking and wiping process.
French for “stencil.” A manual technique for producing multicolored images and for coloring black-and-white prints and illustrations using stencils, stencil brushes, and water- or oil-based inks and pigments. Because there is no printing matrix, pochoir is usually not considered a printmaking technique.
A printing technique originally developed as a lower-cost alternative to aluminum-plate offset lithography in commercial print shops. Like traditional methods of stone and metal-plate lithography, the technique is based on the antipathy of oil and water but requires fewer steps in the physical and chemical preparation of the matrix. Polyester plates are manufactured to allow images to be applied directly with grease crayons, lithographic pencils, permanent markers, ink (Citation: A grease-based liquid used to draw or paint images on lithographic stones or plates. It may also be used as a resist in etching or screenprinting.), or any other oil-based substance. Photographic images can also be transferred to the plate with a laser printer, photocopier, or other digital-imaging methods. Once the image is complete, the plate is wetted, inked with a brayer or dauber, and printed on an intaglio or lithographic press, or by hand. Also called Pronto plate lithography. See also “Lithography.”
A proof impression printed outside of the edition and designated for the personal use of the printer or printers involved in the project. Printer’s proofs are generally inscribed “printer’s proof or “PP” and signed and numbered (when applicable) by the artist.
Pronto plate lithography
See “Polyester-plate lithography.”
An impression printed as part of a series of proofs illustrating the development of a multicolor print. Each successive proof shows a new color added to the colors previously printed. For example, the first progressive proof shows color A, the second proof shows color A and B, the third proof shows colors A, B, and C, and so on. The final proof of the sequence will be the equivalent of the editioned print.
Any impression, printed from a matrix, that is not part of the edition. Some examples include artist’s proofs, printer’s proofs, trial proofs, state proofs, working proofs, and archive proofs.
A work of art consisting of four separate panels or sheets that are attached or hung together to form a single unified composition.
A printmaking technique in which a deeply etched metal plate is inked only on the surface (top-rolled) and printed as a relief block.
A broad category of printmaking techniques in which nonprinting areas of the design are cut away with gouges, chisels, or knives and the image is printed from the remaining surface of the matrix. The matrix is most commonly wood, linoleum, or metal.
Right-to-print (RTP) proof
See “Bon à tirer.”
In printmaking, a handheld tool equipped with a spiked metal wheel for making dotted or textured lines or areas on an intaglio printing plate.
A relief printing technique in which a custom-made or commercially prepared rubber stamp bearing an image or a text is inked and printed manually on a sheet of paper or other material. See also “Relief printing.”
In printmaking, a three-edged knife used to smooth the surface of metal intaglio plates.
A printing method in which ink-blocking masks or stencils are applied to porous, fine-mesh screens of fabric or metal stretched across a sturdy frame. Designs may be masked by hand painting on the screen with Citation: A grease-based liquid used to draw or paint images on lithographic stones or plates. It may also be used as a resist in etching or screenprinting. or glue sizing, or with stencils. Alternatively, designs or photographic images may be transferred to the screen using a light-sensitive emulsion applied to the screen with a squeegee and then dried. A film positive (opaque) or printed transparency is laid over the screen and exposed to a strong light source, which hardens the emulsion in the light-exposed areas of the screen. The screen is then washed, which removes the emulsion from unexposed areas of the screen. See also “Photoscreenprinting.”
Images are printed onto sheets of paper or other material by forcing ink through the unmasked (open) areas of the screen with a squeegee. One color is printed at a time. The finished print is called a screenprint. This technique is sometimes known as silkscreen printing, a reference to the once common use of silk as a screening mesh before the development of synthetic materials.
A variant form of etching, in which an acid-resistant ground applied to the printing plate contains sufficient wax or tallow to prevent it from hardening. On a sheet of soft paper laid over the prepared plate, the artist draws a design with a pencil, pen, crayon, or other instrument, pressing into the ground beneath. When the paper is removed, the ground adheres to the back of the sheet where the pencil was pressed, and the metal plate is exposed in exact correspondence to the artist’s drawing. The plate in then bitten (etched) and printed in the usual manner. An artist may also use textured fabrics and other materials and objects to make patterns and designs in the ground.
An etching technique in which the artist paints with a diluted acid solution (ferric chloride, water, and gum arabic or dish soap) directly on a prepared aquatint plate. The mordant solution bites the plate wherever the solution touches the metal. The plate is then inked, wiped, and printed in the usual manner. Spit-bite aquatint resembles watercolor or ink wash in the finished prints. See also “Aquatint.”
A proof impression printed to show a specific version (state) of the image as the matrix is being developed. It is used by the artist and printer as an aid for revisions and corrections. Collectively, state proofs demonstrate progress of the matrix. If retained, state proofs may or may not be signed by the artist, but they are usually not numbered.
See “Lift-ground aquatint.”
A set of prints related in theme or subject matter and generally published or marketed as a unit, often housed in a custom-designed portfolio case or box.
A proof impression printed during the development of the matrix to demonstrate the outcome of specific revisions or corrections made to the matrix or to test the effects of a specific ink color or inking technique. If retained, trial proofs may or may not be signed by the artist, but they are numbered if signed.
A work of art consisting of three separate panels or sheets that are attached or hung together to form a single, unified composition.
A grease-based liquid used to draw or paint images on lithographic stones or plates. It may also be used as a resist in etching or screenprinting.
An edition of prints produced from a single matrix but not uniform in appearance. This may be due to variations in inking, differences in paper, or handwork added by the artist. Multiples may also be produced as variable editions. Variable editions are sometimes designated with the abbreviation “EV.”
See “Japanese paper.”
A relief printmaking technique in which an image is carved, cut, or otherwise incised into the dense end-grain surface of a woodblock, generally boxwood. The woodblock is then inked with a roller or dauber, covered with a sheet of dampened paper, and printed under manual pressure or in a printing press. See also “Woodcut.”
A relief printmaking technique in which an artist carves the image into a plank of wood along the grain. The wood surface acts as the printing matrix; areas that have been cut away do not print. The block is inked with a brayer or dauber, covered with a sheet of dampened paper, and printed under manual pressure from the back of a wooden spoon or baren, or in a printing press. Also called woodblock printing.
A trial-proof impression printed while the matrix is being developed, on which the artist makes corrections and revisions by hand or notes to direct the printer. If retained, working proofs may or may not be signed by the artist, and may be numbered if signed.
Paper produced on finely woven wire mesh that leaves a very faint mesh pattern in the finished sheet.
- A grease-based liquid used to draw or paint images on lithographic stones or plates. It may also be used as a resist in etching or screenprinting.
- In printmaking, materials or objects that are affixed to the surface of a print by gluing or other means and intended as part of the final composition.