“Every technology, including the printing press, comes at some price”. Bill Keller
Design and printing began very early when the colors and techniques were limited. The earlier printing was done by stamping wooden blocks and then by stencils. The invention of the printing press was somewhat like the invention of the wheel, a monumental change was brought in to the world once people could duplicate images or words in large numbers. As time and technology progressed, the time and cost of printing went down. However, at the same time the demand for good designing and accurate printing went up. It is no surprise that graphic design has become a popular career, and so is investing and opening printing business. There is always something to print, and someone who has the expertise to create it for you. Print has affected all walks of life, from spreading religion to creating awareness and educating the masses.
Traditional Print making techniques
These are some of the techniques inspired and evolved from ancient printing techniques
Relief Printing Techniques, the most traditional Printing Style
A tradition printing technique that involves using a surface like wood or metal as a stencil and rolling ink on it to get an image imprinted on the fabric or paper below. It is a manual printing technique that is used by artists to create different images.
- Lino Cut
It is a type of woodcut, and the word comes from the usage of linoleum wood which is used in this technique. An image is carved on to the wood, which is an exact mirror image of the image that is to be printed on fabric or paper and an ink roller spreads ink, while the carved area makes a print on the surface.
- Wood Cut
in this technique, an image is carved on the surface of food, it can be a painting or even a few words. The carved areas are removed, and then the surface is covered with paint or ink with the help of a roller. This causes the ink to be imprinted through the non-carved areas on to the surface below.
- Metal Cut
A metal is used as a screen or a stencil in which a thin metal plate is used in which the person intending to print engraves an image or words and uses ink to spread it on a paper.
- Cardboard (Paper) Cut:
A cardboard is used as a stencil for printing purposes. A brayer is used to roll ink on the whole cardboard, wherein the carved area gets printed while the ink stays on the non-carved area but does not get imprinted.
Stencil Techniques for Printing and Designing
Stencil means a design, pattern, alphabets etc that is cut out on a material like metal, plastic or cloth and is used as a template. Stencil printing techniques use a screen or stencil to print an image on to a surface, therefore it is a reproductive method in which a screen or stencil is created before printing. The stencil can be a cut-out through which ink is sprayed or spread; it can also be a mesh on to which ink is spread before it transfers to a surface.
- Screen Print
In this technique, the stencil is a mesh which has a pattern or image on it with permeable and impermeable areas. A sharp rubber blade is used to force ink from the mesh on to a surface like cloth or ceramic. Thus the design gets imprinted on to the required material.
This is also known as silkscreen printing, in which a mesh stencil is used and ink is squeezed on to the paper below it. The fine mesh screen that is used for this process is made from silk making the print very fine and accurate.
- Silk Screen
A cloth mostly silk or even nylon at times is used as a mesh screen which is pinned tautly on to a surface. A squeegee is used to force the ink through the silk screen and makes a print underneath it.
It is a highly artistic form of stencil printing, in which artists carve out paintings on a fine thin piece of cloth. It makes a crisp image with accurate colors. It is often used to refresh old painting to make them look brand new. Multiple screens are used to create colorful and precise images.
This printmaking technique is the exact of opposite of relief printing in terms of the way the carving or engraving is done. The engraving technique is such that ink is rolled on to the surface and then wiped off, so that the ink remains in the grooves after which a paper is placed on it and that gets printed on to the surface.
It is one of the most common intaglio techniques for printmaking. In this an image is engraved on to metal using a graver or an instrument called burin. Ink is spread on the metal, and then wiped clean. A slightly wet or damp paper is placed on top of the metal stencil. The paper absorbs only the ink on the grooved areas.
A dry point needle is used as the engraving instrument, which is fine needle that can make thin lines and artists can engrave paintings with it on metal. The incised area also known as burr keeps the ink in while the rest of the ink is wiped off. The paper is then placed on top to absorb the ink.
This is a technique using acid resistant wax that is spread on to a plate. An etching needle is used to engrave an image, after which the plate is dipped into acid which bites or burns off the engraved areas leaving only the acid resistant wax intact. The remaining design is then printed on to a surface in the same way that every intaglio technique is done.
- Aqua tint
This special technique uses asphalt or resin or any other such material that is dusted on to the plate. The plate is heated from the non-dusted side and the heat causes the asphalt to stick to the surface making it acid resistant. Then it is washed with acid which bites in to the non-coated areas and creates a sort of stencil for printing.
This is a highly technical etching technique used by popular artists. It uses a dark and light etching technique, in which the artists cover the plate with dark lines, and then smoothes out areas to lighter shade.
A stippling instrument is used to create dots of varying intensity or color from light to dark to create an image on a metal plate. The light and dark image is produced by using various stippling brushes or instruments that make different sized dots.
- Intaglio Color Printing
Initially only black and white images were created through intaglio. But as color was introduced, artists used to apply color after the acid had bit into the plate or would paint over the metal plate.
Surface-printing Technique, Commonly in use for offset printing as well as Digital Printing
This is one of the oldest printing techniques, in which a plate is created and heavy amounts of ink are spread on it, after which it is pressed on to a surface or the paper rolls between the plates.
- lithography/Offset Printing
The most popular form of printing in which a printing plate is made from the image that is to be printed, which is spread with ink and gets transferred on to a rubber plate which subsequently transfers it to a surface like paper.
- Digital Printing
A digital image is printed with the use of inkjet or laser printers which ink is propelled through tiny nozzles and sprays color finely and accurately on to a paper, ceramics or any other surface.
Coming from the word Kolla which means glue, in this method various materials are glued on to a surface and a collage of various materials is made known as the collage plate. Ink is then applied to the plate and the collage board is used to print an image.
A plate and ink is used to make a mono print, and artists can use a variety of tools to produce an image. Ink is simple spread on a plate and artists wipe I off from areas and etch designs or it can be done the other way round.