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Guide to Printmaking Techniques: Part 3

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

There are three basic categories of printmaking: relief, intaglio, and planographic. We've determined how to tell relief from intaglio prints, now let's learn about planographic prints.

Planographic printmaking is unlike relief and intaglio in that the design is printed from a flat surface.



Monotypes are a unique method of printmaking in that they typically only produce one printed impression rather than multiple printed impressions. The artist paints or inks a smooth surface such as copper or glass then presses the plate and image to a sheet of paper. Most of the paint or ink is removed during the first pressing.


Lithography is one of the oldest planographic printing methods for which an artist draws with a greasy crayon on a flat limestone or zinc. Next, they dampen the stone with water (which is repelled by the greasy crayon and absorbed into the stone) before rolling on the ink (which sticks to the grease and is repelled by the water). Lastly, the stone is pressed to paper, and the inked image transfers. Lithography has become a very popular printing technique as it allows an artist great freedom in drawing the image and the ability to use many colors and create a huge range of visual effects.


A highly refined stenciling technique in which the artist applies the color by hand straight to the paper using stencils.


One of the more recent printing techniques unique in that the print isn’t made directly from a stone or plate, but instead printed through a screen mesh using stencils. To create a screenprint, the artist covers parts of the mesh where they do not want any ink to print, leaving a cut-out of the shape that will be inked. They then pass ink over the stretched mesh onto a sheet of paper underneath. To print multiple colors, the artist must make a screen for each color and then print them one by one onto the sheet.

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