The Artist’s Guide to Mastering Printmaking

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Printmaking is a fascinating, time-honored art form that requires skill and patience. The process can be daunting to newcomers but with the right mindset and tools, it’s easy to get started.

In this blog post, we’ll provide you with the knowledge and resources needed to master printmaking as an artist!

We will cover the following topics:

  • What is printmaking
  • The different types of printmaking techniques
  • Printmaking tools
  • Tips for creating your own prints 

Printmaking is a popular medium for artists because it offers an endless variety of creative possibilities. You will learn about the basics of printmaking and how to get started in this fascinating process.

1. What is Printmaking

Printmaking is a form of art that refers to the process of making prints on a flat surface. Prints are created by transferring ink from an original surface onto paper. There are many different types of printmaking, such as woodcutlithography, and screenprinting.

Printmaking has been around for centuries and has had its own set of innovations over time.

In the early days, printed images were created using woodblocks that artists would carve to produce an image on a paper or cloth surface. The process was called woodcut printing because it used cuts in the woodblock to create either a positive or negative design depending on whether ink went into the cut or not. This was the most common type of printing in Europe during the Middle Ages and is still used to this day for some items like playing cards or newspapers.

Woodblock prints became popular in Japan because the traditional painting style focuses on black ink outlines and white spaces instead of color; thus, woodblocks allowed Japanese artists to create printed images with the same color scheme. The woodblock process was used to create the first known map, the Nihon Shoki (720-760 AD), and many copies of this document still exist today.

In 1775 Joseph Priestley invented carbonated water which was used in metal plate etching; this helped make printing more affordable because it wasn’t so costly or difficult to produce plates anymore. The most common type today is screenprinting, which is the process of using ink to cover an entire surface evenly. Screenprinting was invented in the 1970s and has been popular ever since because it’s so easy to produce.

Some famous examples of printmaker artists are Andy Warhol and Henri Matisse. They both used screenprinting to create famous pieces of art, such as Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe and Henri Matisse’s Dance.

2. The Different Types of Printmaking Techniques

There are many types of printmaking techniques that use different materials and methods. Each technique has its own distinct qualities which make it unique to the artist and also to the art that’s being created.

Screen Printing

Screen printing is the most common of all printmaking techniques. In this technique, ink is applied to a stencil that has been placed on top of a sheet of paper or other substrate and then pulled away from it with pressure being added to create an impression. Often times more than one color can be used in the same design. 

The most important thing to remember about screen printing is that the technique can be used in both relief and intaglio. The difference between them depends on how they are being created which means an artist can create a design with either one of these methods but not both at once.


Printmaking techniques often produce prints, which are like posters or illustrations printed from original artwork onto paper (or other printable media). Some artists will use multiple different types of printing techniques so that their artworks will have varying textures and effects when people view them up close.


Collage-based printmaking is another way for artists to experiment with various materials and processes by mixing pieces together without having any plan for what the final product will look like.


Gouache is a water-based paint that can be applied to paper and other materials so artists often use it in their printmaking projects because of its opaque, bright colors.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printing has become more accessible as an alternative technique since technology companies have started selling affordable inkjet, printer models. Traditional intaglio techniques are still used by many artists but they’ve found ways to mix them with new technologies such as digital illustration programs and laser cutters which make the process more seamless than ever before!

Multiples & Editioned Prints

Multiples (or editions) refer to multiple copies of one image printed at different sizes or on various media. For example, a print with an edition of 50 is printed in batches of 25 at four different sizes: small (20x30cm), medium I (25 x 38 cm), large II (32 x 48), and extra-large III(40×60).


Lithography is the process of printing from an original drawing or painting on stone, which is then inked and printed on paper. This technique was developed by Alois Senefelder around 1796-1817 (credited as the inventor).

Intaglio Prints

Intaglio printmaking is a method that uses the artist’s hand to carve into an ink-resistant surface (such as wax) and then transfers this image onto paper.

Relief Prints

Relief prints are made by using woodcut, linocut, or etching techniques on various surfaces such as metal, stone, or wood.

Ok..What to Choose?

With so many choices, it can be difficult to know what type will work best for your artistic needs.

  • Are you looking for something with rich color and intricate detail but don’t know how to start? Woodcuts are perfect for artists who want their art to stand out from the rest. This method is labor-intensive, but it’s worth it in the end when your work becomes one of a kind.
  • If you’re interested in experimenting with mixed media on paper, then linoleum is a good choice for you. You can mix in materials like ink, grease pastels, and more to create your own style.
  • If you’re looking for something that will stand out on the wall of your living room or office space, relief prints are perfect! This technique gives you creative freedom while still letting you keep things simple.
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3. Printmaking Tools

The tools you’ll need for printmaking are very different from the tools you would use for painting. They’re also not cheap, so it’s important to know what you need before buying anything. Tools can be found at art supply stores like Blick Art Materials or online retailers such as or Amazon.

  • The main thing you’ll need is the printing press which comes in two varieties: flatbed and roller presses. Flatbed printers work great if you’re just doing one color prints while roller presses work better if you’re looking at doing multi-color prints or making relief prints.
  • The other main purchase is the plates which are made of metal, copper, or aluminum. They can be purchased in a set of 12 for around $120-$150 and should last several years.
  • You’ll also want to buy liners for your plate(s) as this helps distribute the ink evenly on top of the surface (without them, likely, some parts won’t get any ink at all!). A set of 12 liners costs about $100-140 depending on what type you’re buying.
  • Lastly, you will need a squeegee to spread the ink across your plate. You don’t need this if you are using a roller press but if you’re making prints on a flatbed, it’s an essential tool for getting good quality prints with minimal effort.

4. Tips for Creating your Own Prints

Here are some tips that will help you create your own prints on printmaking paper:

  • Pick out high-quality photo-inkjet ink cartridges, such as the HP 85 Photo Ink Cartridges. These inks have great color and durability qualities which make them perfect for photographs when used with photographic papers. Photos can be seen from about 160 feet away when they’re displayed outdoors! The package contains five black cartridges and five each of cyan, magenta, yellow and light cyan (lighter than regular blue). They come at an economical price too so it’s easy to stock up. 
  • Create an original design in Adobe PhotoshopIllustrator, or Inkscape, and print it on letter-size paper. Or, cut up an old magazine or newspaper into small squares for a more vintage look.
  • Select the right type of printers such as a large format printer for big projects and small format printers for small projects.
  • Print out your design on a long sheet of paper, then cut it into individual print blocks. You can use scissors or a craft knife to do this. If you’re using regular letter-size paper, make sure the proportions are one square inch per every two inches in height (ie., an 11×17 piece of paper would yield a 22×34 print).
  • Scan your cut paper blocks or digital prints.
  • Upload the scanned images to an online company such as SnapfishStaples Easy Button (UPrinting) for printing on everything from t-shirts and posters to greeting cards and calendars. Prices depend on what you order but some printers offer free shipping if certain thresholds are met.
  • After ordering with one of these companies, they’ll send you instructions about preparing your files for uploading before sending them back to you via email. Sometimes it’s just a matter of telling them which file is the cover image (the first page in your document) and then attaching any other images that go along with it in separate files.

Let’s Sum Up!

If you’re an artist looking to master the art of printmaking, this guide is for you! This article has provided information on how to think about design and materials needed for printmaking, tips from a professional printer, as well as some helpful resources that can be used in setting up your own studio space. 

Printmaking has been around since man’s earliest days so it should come with no surprise that there are many different techniques involved. We hope by reading through this article you’ll not only learn more about the process but also find something new that inspires creativity within yourself!

Print On Demand World Staff

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