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From aquatints to woodcuts: a visual glossary of original prints

Published 25 April 2014

We take a look at the main printmaking techniques and some of the terminology you’ll encounter when looking at original prints.

  • If you’re visiting the London Original Print Fair this weekend, you’ll see a vast array of prints executed in a number of different techniques.

    Brush up on your print terminology with our gallery below, in which we’ve illustrated some commonly used printmaking terms using examples from the Royal Academy Collection.

    Main printmaking techniques:

    Relief print The image is cut out of the block. The proud areas are inked and the image is transferred onto paper by press or hand.

    Intaglio A plate is incised with an image, which is transferred to paper by a mangle-style press.

    Lithography The image is produced on stone or zinc plates. Based on the principle that grease repels water, areas of the plate are made receptive to ink, while others remain blank in the printed image.

    Screenprint The image is built up in layers by pushing ink through a mesh using a squeegee. This method is derived from commercial printing processes.

    Digital print The image is created using computer software and is then printed using archival inks on high-quality paper.