Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login

:iconstigmatattoo: More from stigmatattoo

More from DeviantArt


Submitted on
October 15, 2007


80 (who?)

Printmaking produces images with visual qualities that are very different from those obtained through drawing or painting directly, and each technique adds its own peculiarities to the way each piece is conceived. Each of these techniques involves the use of a matrix or original surface which is manipulated in different ways, and from which multiple prints are produced. Each of these prints is an original, since they are not reproductions of another work of art.
However, with its odd and alchemical combinations of unusual materials, specific tools and enormous machines, Printmaking is often a strange and foreign territory even for artists accustomed to studio work on other disciplines.

While there are a great many different techniques, some of them done in ways dictated by ancient tradition and others spawned from modern technologies, it all comes down to four main categories:
Relief, Intaglio, Planographic and Screen Printing. These basic categories containing within themselves every specific category currently used by deviantART, and other important techniques not considered there, but also used by many deviants.
In this series, each of these main categories will be broken down so everyone can fully understand and appreciate the process involved in the making of the images you see in the Printing Gallery.


: Including Linocuts, Woodcuts and sometimes Collographs

In Relief printing, the areas of the matrix that are to show printed black are on the original surface; the parts of the matrix that are to be blank (white) are physically removed from the block with carving tools. It is the raised surface of the matrix that carries the image, and it is printed by applying ink to the surface with a hand roller (brayer). As the roller passes over the surface, it only reaches the raised areas of the matrix: everything remaining of the original surface pick up ink, leaving the removed, recessed markings clean.

woodcut MMVII cut by stigmatattoo The image shows a carved block of MDF board and the tools that were used: a gouge with a V-shaped blade which allows for thin or thick lines depending on the depth of the cut, and an X-acto-type knife used for carving delicate details. The block is placed over a bench hook: a piece of board with one end sticking up and other down, the top one keeps the matrix from being moved by the action of the tools and the bottom one hooks the whole contraption to the edge of the table/bench.

To obtain the image, the block is put into a special press. Paper is laid on the block and pressure is applied by the press, transferring the ink from the block to the paper. Relief prints can also be obtained by "hand rubbing", placing the paper over the inked block and rubbing the back with what looks like a wooden Japanese rice spoon or a special tool called a baren. This avoids the use of a press and makes it possible to create Relief prints in an easy, affordable fashion.

Printing Metropolis by OptimalProtocol This is a linocut by OptimalProtocol, depicting a typical printing press used for many printmaking techniques. The block and paper are placed on a plate that passes between two cylinders (top cylinder and plate are shown on the print). Remember that every white space shown in the print had to be carved out of the original surface of the block!

Relief prints are often recognizable by what is called "impression". This refers to the indention caused by the relief pressing into the paper, and is one of its unique characteristics.

There are some peculiarities to making a Relief Print: First of all, you have to get used to the concept that you'll be working in negative, that is, that every mark you make with your tools on the matrix will produce a white mark on the final print. Second, that the final image will be a mirror image of what you have in the matrix, because the matrix works much as a stamp. This means that the image is designed and composed with that in mind, and special care must be put when including numbers or letters... it is all too easy to get carried away and let that fact slip.

"Bad luck for a lucky rabbit", grungepuppy said. It is all too easy even for experienced printmakers, as you can see.

There are many different materials one can use to make a relief print. These matrices begin with a halved potato and end with polymer resin wood engraving substitutes, passing through various woods and man-made materials like linoleum. Each have their own graphic possibilities, ranging from extra-sharp linework to expressive mark-making. Relief prints range from the detailed, multicolored Japanese prints to the raw images of European Expressionists. Here is a small selection of Relief Prints from the Traditional Gallery.

:thumb20902222: blrr by omanhes Flower Eater by adultbooks the bee jar by myodalisque The Bee Box by myodalisque untitled-dead rabbit on green by myodalisque swarming by myodalisque 40 by Coldone Jilly by evanjensen Primitive Dog by grungepuppy Charge by grungepuppy red rabbit by erinmid The Lords of Hate by Subnuggurat The Letter III "Orange" by kimOSAKA Aya "Red" by kimOSAKA holden by holdensdad Cabeca by bonomatos Homem do campo by bonomatos Sem titulo 2 by bonomatos  Cutting Myself Out by Andgott linocut1 by kamilsmala linocut2 by kamilsmala A la licorne by pageboy Koi in Motion by Kimbalena Woodblock by berylsays :thumb51296769: The Unfairness of Life by rama-m Burnout by Fadingseven Cash by Fadingseven Going To Grandmas' by ewenfields El Inquebrantable by nomad81 En el Bar by nomad81 :thumb41979907: :thumb51134957: :thumb51447160: Untitled Frau II by gorse78 Rain Dog 4 by gorse78 frida by salmonela torero by salmonela mona by salmonela Bang by sobreiro club fred by toryjohnson A Hedonist's Profile by stigmatattoo

Next issue: Intaglio
Add a Comment:
print-master Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2010
Wow didn't realise you got articles like this on deviantart. Me likes!
RainyDayDreamr Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2008  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love these works! As a relief printer myself, I can really appreciate the hard work that has been put into each one of these. BEAUTIFUL!!!!
brokendown Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2008
oh, how i wish i still had a press at my disposal.
philho Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2007  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I tried lino engraving at school. Very childish, of course, nothing like the above. Thanks for the article and the superb selection, again.
lightanddarklove Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I did some relief prints not to long ago, but unfortunately I made it of a fan art character. Is there any category for relief prints and fanart?
philho Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2007  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
A GD might disagree with me, but I think that Printing, Culinary, or in my case Pixel art, to name but a few examples, are rather special techniques, which might, per your appreciation, be more important than the "fan art" side of the deviation.
As long as full credit is given, of course.
This doesn't apply to traditional/digital drawing/painting, of course... =)
lightanddarklove Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you, this helped clear up some confusion on my part. Once I get my scanner to work *kicks it* I will certainly be posting it.

Yes, with those categories it usually is more about the character than the technique.
JetJames Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
Another great feature and article. Thanks :)
holdensdad Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2007
Wow. Beautiful work. I'm honored to be included with art of this caliber.

stigmatattoo Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
+ :highfive: +
Add a Comment: