The Beauty of Printmaking- Then and Now


Printmaking is a long yet beautiful process based on the principle of shifting images from a raw place, file or a folder onto another surface, most often paper or fabric.

The oldest form of mechanical reproduction is printmaking. Dating back to around the 5th century AD, this advanced process gave artists the ability to generate multiple copies of a single work. Here we discuss five different forms of art prints, the procedures involved in each and the diverse optical qualities that result.

Printmaking began ages ago using woodcuts. Art prints using this process were formed by drawing a sketch on a block of wood and evading out all the parts between the outlines which did not need to be inked. Then ink was followed on to the wood, which would only adhere to the raised sections of the block. Finally, the block was rolled onto a sheet of paper to shift the drawing.

Engraving is another way of printmaking. In some ways, it works precisely opposite to woodcutting. In a woodcut, ink sticks to the carved areas on the woodblock. In the case of photoengraving, metal blocks mostly made of copper, are used. A special tool rubs a sketch on this block. The persistence of metal plates allows for multiple copies to be made, something not so possible in woodcuts.

One intriguing variation on the engraving is called drypoint. Here, the tool used to engrave the picture leaves a fine, feathered edge. No other printing means creates the same results as those seen in drypoint art prints. A disadvantage is that drypoint prints cannot be made in considerable quantities, because the feathered edges on the plate eventually wear smooth and lose their unique quality.

Lithography begins by describing an image onto a solid limestone block with a grease pen or similar medium. When acid is applied, the drawing is burned into the block, apprehending small details that can be blurred or lost with other printing processes.

The modern imaging method used in making giclee prints reproduces a digital scan onto paper. In this process, high-quality colored ink is sprayed onto the page using jets and occurring in a rich array of varying shades of color as well as breathtaking features.

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