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Printmaking Vocabulary

Artist’s proof

One of the proofs (or prints) in a limited edition of original prints. These would all be signed and bear a number such as, 7/32; this would mean it was the seventh pull of an edition of 32.


Usually associated with the printmaker of Japan. A slightly convex hand tool, about 5 inches in diameter, for burnishing the back of paper when printing from an inked relief block. Many Western artists use an ordinary household tablespoon for the same purpose, though the results are not necessarily equal in quality

Bench Hook

A metal or wooden plate with a raised edge on each end to hold a woodcut or linocut in place while cutting.


A piece of thick, flat material, with a design on its surface, used to print repeated impressions of that design.


A roller used to spread out ink during the printmaking process


A tool used by an engraver with a steel shaft and a sharp point at one end and a handle at the other.

Chine Colle

A technique for gluing smaller pieces of paper onto a print while printing it. Usually, thin papers are attached to a heavier printing paper with this method.


A print made from an image built up with glue and other collage-type materials.


A set of identical prints that are numbered and signed.


The process of incising a design into a plate block which is then used to make an impression. It encompasses various different methods, such as: Aquatint, Drypoint, Etching, Intaglio, Line Engraving, Mezzotint, Relief Print, Woodcut.


A means of incising lines in a metal plate with acid for printing in the intaglio technique.


In relief printing, a tool for cutting and clearing areas from a block of wood or linoleum.


Liquid containing pigment used for writing printing. Printing ink is actually more closely related to paints than to the pen and brush inks.


Any of the techniques in which an image or tonal area is printed from lines or textures scratched or etched into a metal plate (engraving, etching, drypoint, aquatint, lift ground, soft ground).

Linoleum Print

A type of relief print in which the image is cut into a piece of linoleum.


A printing technique in which the image is drawn on a very flat slab of limestone (or a specially treated metal plate).

Monoprint / Monotype

A form of printmaking that has images or lines that can only be made once


A sheet of any material prepared to be inked in order to make prints.


A process that is capable of creating multiple originals of an artwork. Generally, printmaking processes involve pressing a sheet of paper against an inked surface. This transfers the image from the inked surface to the paper.

Printing Press

A machine that transfers the image to be printed by contact with ink and paper.


Prints made at various stages during the creative process to act as guidelines for further stages to change, correct or improve the image.


Adjustment of separate plates, blocks, screens or paper in color printing to ensure correct alignment of the colors.Relief: A technique in which the image is printed from a raised surface.


A technique in which the image is printed from a raised surface.

Relief Print

A means of making prints by creating a raised design on a flat surface. The design is inked or covered with color and stamped on paper or another surface.

Screen Print

A form of stencil printing in which the stencil is adhered to a fine screen for support.


(also more popularly known as silk-screen printing) Basically it is a method of refined stenciling. A screen of silk, organdie, or fine wire mesh is stretched over a frame. On this screen is placed a stencil, which may be of thin card, shellac film, or tusche (a mixture that may include: wax, soap, lampblack, spermaceti, shellac or tallow). The ink which is of thick consistency is forced through the screen on to the paper by a squeegee. Multi-color work is just a matter of preparing as many screens as the colors called for. Subtle water-color effects can be gained by thickening water-based colors with isinglass.


A printing process by which areas are blocked out to keep ink from non-image areas.


A print made from a design cut into a block of wood