Printmaking Explained

There are four main categories of printmaking: relief, intaglio, lithography, and screen-printing.  Relief prints are created from a raised surface, and intaglio prints are created from a cut surface. Each colour in a print usually requires a separate stone, plate, block, or stencil, and any of these basic processes may be combined in the creation of a finished work

I work in relief, intaglio and screen-printing methods.  This covers linocut, reduction linocut, collagraph or collatype, dry-point etching, copper plate etching, aluminium plate etching and screen-printing, but I teach the following:

Mono Printing

Mono, meaning one, is a method of inking interesting shapes, colours and lines, to produce a unique print. This can be done by simply drawing on the reverse side of a sheet of paper on an inked sheet of glass or plastic, or by placing the inked items on a sheet of paper and then putting that through a printing press.

Linocuts/Lino prints

 A linocut is a relief printmaking technique in which a sheet of linoleum is cut into to create an image. The linoleum sheet is inked with a roller (called a brayer), and then impressed onto paper or fabric.

The reduction lino print method is a technique used when wanting a multicoloured print. Using the same piece of linoleum block or plate, through a succession of cutting and printing in layers a coloured print emerges, and the piece of linoleum is destroyed.


A collagraph is made when a collage of materials in including but not limited to, wallpaper, leaves, eggshells, fabric, tape, string, tin foil etc., is glued to a ‘printing plate’ which are made from pieces of cardboard. When the glue is completely dry, a layer of shellac or varnish is painted over the plate so that paint can be pushed or rolled onto the plate. The joy of using this printing method is that it can be used as a relief print or an intaglio print. The paper is then pressing onto the surface of the plate to produce the print, so very versatile.

Dry-point, copper plate and aluminium etching with the intaglio method

Intaglio printing is the opposite of relief printing, in that the printing is done from ink that is below the surface of the plate. The design is cut, scratched, or etched into the printing surface or plate, which can be copper, zinc, aluminium, magnesium, plastics, or even coated paper.

Screen Printing

Screen printing, screen printing or silkscreen printing is a printing technique whereby a mesh is used to transfer paint or ink onto a substrate, except in areas made impermeable to the paint or ink by a blocking stencil. A squeegee is pulled across the screen to fill the open mesh apertures with paint or ink, which pushing the paint or ink through the holes in the screen. Screen printing is a stencil method of printmaking, but I often paint directly onto the screen producing a mono or once only print which I repeat in layers, so no two pieces are ever alike.