A Guide To Prinmaking & Printmaking Glossary

The Ultimate Guide to Prints
October 11, 2023
A guide to printmaking and a glossary

Types of Printmaking:

Relief Printing

Woodcuts and Linocuts

The artist carves an image into a block of wood or linoleum, leaving the image area raised. Ink is applied to the raised area, and the block is pressed onto the paper to create the print.



Etching and Engraving

The image is incised into a surface, typically a metal plate. Ink is applied and wiped from the surface, remaining only in the incised areas. The plate is then pressed onto paper. Grayson Perry etchings are one of our most popular artist that Andipa deals in. Etchings are also a technoque that is used in certain Damien Hirst prints



The image is incised into a plate with a hard-pointed needle or another sharp object. The burr raised during incising holds the ink, creating characteristic rich lines.



The artist draws directly onto a stone or plate with a grease pencil. The surface is treated so that ink adheres only to the drawn areas. The stone or plate is then pressed onto paper. Explore our collection of David Hockney Lithographs

Screen Printing

A screen, traditionally made of silk, is stretched over a frame. A stencil, which blocks out areas not to be printed, is placed beneath it. Ink is pushed through the unblocked pores of the screen onto the printing surface. Screenprint is the main method used in Andy Warhol signed prints and original Banksy prints.


Monotype and Monoprint


The artist creates an image with ink or paint on a smooth plate, and then presses it onto paper, usually yielding a single impression.


Similar to monotype, but some part of the image is repeatable, such as a fixed block or stencil pattern.

The Print Making Process

Creating the Matrix

The artist creates an original image on a matrix, which can be a metal plate, wooden block, stone, or screen, depending on the printmaking technique.



Ink is applied to the matrix. Depending on the technique, it might be applied to the surface or pushed into crevices.


The matrix is pressed against the paper, transferring the ink and image onto the paper.


After printing, the artist often signs and numbers each print, creating a limited edition.


The matrix can be used to create additional prints, allowing for multiple originals.


Multiple Originals

Allows the creation of multiple originals, making art more accessible to a wider audience.

Exploration of Texture and Technique

Different printmaking methods enable varied visual effects, textures, and technical opportunities.



Often involves collaboration with print workshops and master printers.


Printmaking is a versatile medium, known for its variety, accessibility, and the unique aesthetic qualities that each technique offers. Whether through the stark contrasts of woodcuts, the detailed lines of engraving, or the vibrant layers of screen printing, printmaking offers diverse expressions for both artists and audiences alike.

Printmaking Glossary

In the realm of printmaking, which has been fine-tuned over the centuries, a distinctive vocabulary has evolved. The ensuing terms and phrases may emerge as you explore this art form. For an in-depth exploration of the printmaking techniques utilised, please refer to this guide:

Artist's Proofs

Artist's Proofs are additional prints from an edition. Although originally used by artists for proofing, it's now commonplace to sell them, adhering to the guideline that Artist's Proofs should not surpass 10% of the edition size.


Used for hand burnishing relief prints, a Baren is a flat disk traditionally crafted from bamboo, although plastic variants are now available.


A block, also termed a plate or matrix, is a material that is carved to fashion a printing surface.


A Brayer, predominantly referred to in the USA, denotes a roller utilised for ink application.

Chine Collé

This involves integrating thin paper collage elements during printing, ensuring that the lighter paper adheres to the denser print paper when ink is applied.


In this technique, collage elements are assembled to create the block or matrix.


A direct etching method where the image is inscribed onto the plate using a sharp implement. This technique produces a raised burr, yielding soft lines in the resulting print, similar to pencil drawings, and has a finite lifespan due to the wear of the burr through printing.


Refers to a series of prints created from a single block or plate, which can either be 'limited' or 'open', depending on whether the artist limits or doesn’t limit the production number, respectively.


When printmakers are 'editioning', they are selecting, numbering, and signing prints to form an edition, ensuring that subpar prints are excluded.


The process of carving an image into a plate either using chemicals (etching) or sharp tools (drypoint etching).


A term originating in the 1990s, Giclée refers to inkjet printing, signifying a reproduction and not an original print.

Hand Burnishing

A method where ink is transferred from the block to paper by manually rubbing the paper's reverse side with a tool like a baren or spoon.


In intaglio printing, the image is derived from lines etched into a plate. The paper must be forcibly pressed into the carved lines to pick up the ink, necessitating significant pressure, often achieved with an etching press.


Linocuts employ a relief printmaking method, where the block is sculpted from a semi-soft material, traditionally lino or contemporary printmaker's vinyl.


This refers to the prepared printing surface, also known as a block or plate.

Moku Hanga

A traditional Japanese woodblock printmaking method that employs a colour mixture of watercolour paint and rice paste.


A print that, despite emerging from a matrix with an image, differs substantially from others due to variations in colour application or ink application technique, making each print singular.


A unique print made without a matrix, with ink directly applied to a plate, preventing exact replication.


A paste of rice flour and water utilised in moku hanga printmaking.


A term for a prepared printing surface, also interchangeable with block or matrix.


Poupée (à la poupée)

This technique involves applying various ink colours simultaneously to the block, using diverse tools to ink specific areas, including brushes, cards, or a twisted fabric wad, aptly named poupée (French for doll).

Relief Print

In relief printing, ink is rolled onto the block’s raised surfaces. Areas carved away remain ink-free and absent from the final image. Ink can be transferred using a press or hand burnishing.


A loosely woven fabric employed for both ink application and removal.


A relief printmaking method involving a block carved from wood.

Decoding Print Annotations

Original prints typically feature specific details inscribed below them in the bottom margin, generally written with a hard pencil to create a permanent indentation.


On the left, indicating the print’s unique number and the edition size, e.g., 1/12.



Centrally placed, potentially with or without inverted commas.


Placed on the right, sometimes accompanied by a date.

Other potential annotations include "A/P" for Artist's Proof, or "T/P" indicating a test print, which may not be part of the final edition but is deemed satisfactory for display or sale by the artist.


About the author

Alex Yellop