Types of Print Mediums You Should Know

Do you know the difference between a lithograph and a serigraph? What do you etch when creating an etching? How does a linocut work? If you are not an artist, then you may not immediately know the answers to these questions. However, anyone who collects fine art naturally has an interest in the methods of creation and the effort that goes into creating each and every piece. Here are a few definitions of common fine art types of print mediums.

Lithograph

types of print mediums

“From My Heart to Your Heart”
Alexandra Nechita
Lithograph
1997
24″ x 35.5″

Lithography is a one of the types of print mediums that involves the process of applying a design onto any material. An artist creates a drawing with wax crayons on limestone or textured aluminum. Ink is then applied to the stone with a roller. The ink sticks to the elevated wax layer, then the weight of the stone is used to press the image onto paper. Today, lithographs are often created using a machine that uses a four color separation process, much in the way that a magazine is printed.

Serigraph

types of print mediums

“Fade to Close-Up of Marilyn”
James Gill
Serigraph
2014
39.4 x 27.6″

types of print mediums

“Young Beatles…Beautiful Magic”
James Gill
Serigraph
2014
28″ x 20″

A serigraph is a work that is produced by using a screen printing method that applies the ink with a silkscreen, although today polyester and nylon are more common textiles. An original oil painting is scanned and the colors are separated digitally. A separate silkscreen is created for every single color in the painting, which can typically reach a maximum of 80 to 130 individual colors. Each individual silkscreen is applied to the serigraph paper, and the artist then smooths the paint over the screen using a hand squeegee. After this, the paper must be left to dry before the next layer of color can be added. This process is very meticulous and can take months at a time just to produce one run of serigraphs. Serigraphs also tend to be the truest copy of the original work since each color is meticulously reproduced by hand.

Etching

Picasso Femme nue a La Jambe Pliee

“Femme nue a la Jambe Pliee”
Picasso
Etching
1931
12″ x 8″

types of print mediums

“Accord Entre Les Guerriers de Sparta et d’ Athens”
Picasso
Etching
1934
6 X 9″ Framed size: 22″ X 25″

types of print mediums

“Self Portrait with Saskia”
Rembrandt van Rijn
Etching
1636
4 1/8″ x 3 5/8″

Etching is one of the types of print mediums that involves applying an image to metal. With engraving, an image is cut into a metal sheet. With etching, the metal sheet is covered in a layer of wax. An image is then traced into the wax and an acid is used to burn the exposed metal. The pliability of the wax allows for more subtle lines and shading. Repeated masking of certain areas of the etch using a painted-on varnish or lacquer and re-applied washes of acid create more intense depth and tone. The resulting image takes on a the fine softness of a pencil drawing.

Linocut

types of print mediums

“Dormeuse”
Picasso
Linocut
1962
17 1/2″ x 14 5/8″

A linocut is similar to a woodcut, except that instead of using wood the artist uses linoleum. Since linoleum has no directional wood grain, it allows the artist more freedom to create elaborate images. An image is cut into the linoleum using several special tools, then the linoleum is painted with an ink roller, and then the linoleum is pressed onto paper or fabric. This can be done by hand or machine. The resulting work is a mirror image of the original.

 

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