David Freed Artist

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Types of Prints

Fine art prints are original works of art that, because of the method in which they are produced, can be made in multiples or editions. The printmaker sets a limit for an edition, say 40 prints, so the print will retain its aesthetic and financial value. Thus a print will have the edition number and the number of that print on it, such as 10/40, meaning this is the 10th print in an edition of 40. You will see some prints that have no number, but an "AP," which stands for "artist's proof." These are most highly valued by some collectors because they are the first "final"prints that the printmaker pulls before starting the numbering of an edition. After printing the 40 prints, the printmaker will "strike" or mutilate the plate so no more prints can be made. To confuse the matter, many people use the work "print" as a label for such mass-produced pictures as posters and reproductions of paintings and other original works of art. These are not original works of art. With modern printing methods they can be produced in the millions. Some of the more common methods of printmaking follow.


A method of creating tone or texture on an etching plate by means of rosin dust or spray paint. Aquatints can be recognized by their use of tonal values rather than line or tones built up by line.


An intaglio method using a hard steel or diamond point needle to scratch an image into a copper, zinc or soft steel plate. The burr raised gives drypoints their characteristic quality when printed, but because it wears away quickly, most drypoints are steelfaced.


Etching, drypoint, xlography are all varieties of the engraving technique in which a sharp tool is used to incise lines into a metal or wood plate. The lines that have been cut away are printed, making this an intaglio method. In the wood engraving, it is the surface remaining after material has been cut away that prints the image.


An intaglio process in which a metal plate is covered with an acid-resistant material before being drawn on. Each mark made by the drawing tool removes the material in the area incised, thus allowing acid to penetrate when the plate is placed in the acid bath. These exposed areas will be bitten by the acid to a depth dependent upon the length of time they remain in the solution. The bitten areas, when inked, will print, while the protected areas will not.


Any one of the printmaking methods in which the portions of the surface of the plate are cut or bitten away, or in which portions of the plate are built up or raised.

Linoleum cut, linocut

The technique of cutting an image for a print in linoleum rather than wood or metal or other materials. As in woodcuts, it is the raised surfaces remaining that accept the ink and are seen in the completed print.


One of the major printmaking techniques since its invention late in the 18th century. A drawing is made with a greasy material on a stone (or plate of various other substances). When the surface has been treated in the appropriate way, the image (the greased portion) will accept printing inks and the remaining areas repel it. Impressions are printed by means of a litho press.


An intaglio process in which the entire surface of a plate is roughened with a tool called a rocker to produce a black or dark tone. The printmaker reveals the image desired by scraping and burnishing away certain areas, working from the dark to light tones.

Mixed media

A print in which two or more printmaking techniques are used, i.e., woodcut and silkscreen.

Monoprint, monotype

One print, usually made by painting or drawing in one of several colors, in any of a variety of media, on a nonabsorbent surface. Paper laid over the surface and pressed will accept a negative image, which is called monotype.

Serigraphy or silkscreen

Originally a stencil process through a screen made of silk; today the screen is more frequently made of nylon. Areas not to be printed are stopped up with paper or glue or other material. The remaining areas allow the ink or paint to pass through and print the image.


The image is cut into a block of wood. The portions cut away will not print, whereas the surface that remains will be inked and printed.