A-Z of Printmaking Techniques

When appreciating the work and skill that goes into making traditional prints it is essential to recognise the different techniques that are utilised in their execution. Below is a short overview of the processes that our artists use, some of which date back thousands of years.

Intaglio Printing

Intaglio refers to all printing and printmaking techniques that involve making indents or incisions into a plate or print surface. Traditionally the plate is made from copper, zinc or other metals and the cutting is made with sharp hand tools or by using acid. When ink is applied to the plate, it is held in the incisions or indents and wiped from the surface before being printed on a press on dampened paper.

Intaglio printing encompasses mediums such as aquatint, drypoint, engraving, etching, mezzotint and photogravure.

Learn More


Lithography is a chemical process invented in the late 18th century and based on the antipathy of grease and water. The image is drawn on a flat stone or metal plate using a greasy medium, such as tusche, crayon or laquer. The stone is then treated with acid, which bonds the greasy drawing materials to the surface. The stone is then dampened, so that a roller charged with oil-based ink can be rolled over the surface, and the ink will adhere to the grease-receptive images. Paper is then placed against the surface and the plate is run through a press where the ink transfers onto it to create the finished artwork. In order to make a multicolour lithograph, additional stones must be used for each colour.

Monoprint and Monotype

The monoprint can be considered a variation of a series. There are many techniques of mono-printing and examples of standard printmaking techniques which can be used to make monoprinting include lithography, woodcut, and etching. Although there are common elements, each finished print within the series is a unique and varies by the incorporating mark-making, such as hand-colouring or collage or subtracting elements such as removing ink or paint.

A monotype is a one-of-a-kind print that starts with a smooth surface (for example: glass, gelatin plate, perspex), then adding ink or paint and working the surface to create an image. The ink or paint can be brushed, rolled, daubed or applied in any way that suits the artist. The artist may further manipulate the ink before a sheet of paper is applied on top of the image. This plate with the paper applied on top is then run through a press or applied pressure to using a roller.

Relief Printing

Relief printing refers to all printing and printmaking techniques where a printing block that has had ink applied to its surface, but not to any recessed areas, is brought into contact with paper. The areas of the block that have ink will leave an imprint on the paper, but not the rest.

Relief printing encompasses mediums such as linocut, woodblock and woodcut.

Learn More

Stencil Printing

Stencil printing is one of the simplest forms of printmaking and is a technique for reproducing designs by passing ink or paint through an opening in a material or cut-out design. The image is created by only allowing the pigment to reach some part of the surface and the negative space is blocked out by the solid stencil.

Stencil printing encompasses mediums such as Pochoir and Screenprint.

Learn More