An etching is mainly used to create very precise black and white images. It is made with a metal plate covered with wax. The artist draws an image on it with an etching needle. The etching plate is then dipped in acid. The acid only ends up in the places where it was scratched off with the etching needle. The longer the plate remains in the acid, the deeper and darker the line will be. When the plate is removed from the acid, the entire plate is covered with ink. This ink is then brushed off again but remains in the incised lines. The plate is placed under the printer who presses a damp paper onto it. Because the paper is moist, it is better pressed into the engravings by the press. This will leave the etched lines on the paper.
Lithography is an age-old printing technique that is very time consuming and above all a specialist skill. When making a lithograph, the artist makes the drawing with oily ink or chalk on a (lime) stone. The rest of the printing technique is based on the principle that water and grease repel each other. After the drawing has been applied, the stone is rubbed with a mixture that penetrates into inkless areas. These are the places where no fat can penetrate later. The next step is to remove the drawing with turpentine. The drawing then seems to have disappeared, but the fat of the ink remains. The stone is then wet with a sponge. The places on the stone where the ink has been, automatically remain dry because the grease has remained there. Finally, when the ink is applied, the ink adheres only to the dry area.
Finally, the print is transferred to paper in a special press. You then have a print in one color. To use multiple colors, this process must be repeated with a different limestone and a different color of ink. This cannot be done until the paper has dried. Making a lithograph is therefore very labour-intensive and requires a lot of patience and precision.
Today, the screen printing technique is perhaps the most commonly used by artists. The printing process is based on a template. The template is placed on the paper. A very fine sieve mesh is then placed on top of that. The paint is applied to this and spread over the sieve mesh with a squeegee. This way the ink imagines its way through the screen through the parts that the stencil does not block. When other colors are added to the paper, this process is repeated with a new template or screen.
The woodcut is the oldest type of print. It works as a kind of stamp where only the high parts are pressed. The artist sketches a drawing on a piece of wood. Then he gouges out the drawing with special gouges. A layer of ink is then applied over the woodcut with an ink roller. A sheet of paper is placed on top and pressure is applied with the press leaving an impression of the raised areas on the paper.
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