Posted on: 22 August 2018
Prints of artwork are not always just copies of an original. Often, they are painstakingly reproduced by an artist's hand. You can tell if an artist reproduced a print by looking in the lower corner of a piece of art. You'll see two numbers separated by a slash. The second number says how many prints were made and the first says which print in the sequence you have. So if you see in the corner 5/15, you'll know that 15 prints were made and yours was the fifth in the series. There are four main ways of making prints. Read on for details on each one.
In lithographic printing, a flat surface that is receptive to grease, like limestone, zinc or aluminum, is drawn on with grease paint or pencils. Then the drawn-on surface is treated with chemicals. After that, the surface is dampened and ink is rolled over it. The ink will only adhere to the grease particles in the drawing, so paper can be pressed onto the surface and the ink that adhered to the surface will be transferred to the paper. If more than one color is used, the artist will need multiple plates.
In screenprinting, prints are created through a piece of stretched, fine-mesh fabric. The frame of fabric is placed over a piece of paper or another surface, then stencils are placed on top of the fabric. Ink is rolled over the stencil and fabric, and the image will reproduce where the stencil doesn't block the ink.
To make a relief print, an artist takes a flat surface, like a wood block, and cuts away areas that shouldn't be printed. The artist is left with a raised surface that can be covered with ink and pressed onto a piece of paper or another surface. If the artist chooses to use more than one color, multiple surfaces must be carved.
The intaglio printmaking process is opposite of relief printing. In intaglio printing, rather than cutting away part of a flat surface that are not to be printed, an artist will cut away that part that should be reproduced. Once the image is carved into the flat surface, ink is pushed into the grooves. Then the surface is wiped clean, leaving the ink only in the groove marks. Finally, a piece of soft paper is pressed against the flat surface, and a press forces the paper into the grooves to reproduce the image. If the artist wants to use more than one color, he or she must create more than one plate.
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