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Glossary

The Catalogues Raisonné
Ernest Fiene
Luis Quintanilla

Glossary Guide

This glossary of terms is intended to provide a very basic guide to the vocabulary used in discussions of fine original prints. It is not intended to be complete or comprehensive, but rather a primer for those who may need assistance with the terminology used on this website.

All the terms in the glossary appear in alphabetical order in the right hand column, with the exception of Original Print, which is discussed in this column below.

To go to a particular entry in the glossary either scroll down until you see the entry you are seeking, or use the pop-up index immediately below.



The glossary will continue to be developed over time. For further reference now, click here to view a brief bibliography of other publications discussing printmaking terminology, both on-line and in print.

Note: Terms appearing in italics within an individual glossary entry have their own entries in the glossary.


A brief dissertation on the term "Original Print"

The concept of an original print (sometimes called an artist-print) is inherently difficult to explain (and understand) for several reasons: First the term "original print" appears to be a contradiction in terms. After all, an original artwork is most often construed to be a single item, with no other work exactly (or even almost exactly) like it in existence; whereas a print is commonly thought of as being merely a reproduction of an original. In fact most of us have never seen the most famous original oil paintings, drawings, watercolors, etc. We have only seen reproductions of them, typically photo-mechanical reproductions -- which are indeed prints when the image is printed; and therein lies a big part of the difficulty -- understanding the difference between a photo-mechanical reproductive print and an original print. Another part of the problem is understanding how there can be more than one original of the same image, which, with the exception of monoprints or monotypes, is the case with original prints. And a final difficulty emerges in trying to define what degree of involvement is required of the artist in the process of producing a print to make it qualify as an original print.

The first step is to understand that the difference between an original print and prints that are not original lies, to a great extent, in the method by which the image to be printed is created. An image first created in a medium other than a printmaking medium such as pen-and-ink drawing, oil painting, watercolor, etc, and is then photographed so that it can be printed in multiple copies (whether the number be two, two hundred or two thousand-- or more) is not an original print. These prints are reproductions intended to look as much like the original as possible, and even if each of them is signed and numbered by the artist who created the original drawing or painting, it is still not an original print. It is a different animal and should not be promoted (by either artist or publisher) as an original print. The original (the painting,drawing, etc.) exists separately from the prints.) On the other hand, an image created by the hand of the artist on an original printmaking matrix,such as an etching plate, a lithographic stone, a woodblock, etc.; and is then printed from that matirix, whether in two copies, two hundred copies, or two thousand copies -- should that be possible -- and whether or not it is signed and/or numbered by the artist, is an original print. ******

The original print has its origins in an art making process during which an image is created by an artist not on a surface that will become its permanent home -- as a canvas becomes the permanent home for a painting -- but on a printing surface from which the image will be transferred to its permanent home, most commonly a sheet (or many sheets) of paper, thus producing multiple originals.

It needs to be emphasized that the printing surface is not the artwork itself but merely a vehicle for transferring it, a part of a process. So there is no single "original" of which the prints are copies. In fact, the word "copy" is best avoided as a term to describe an original print because it suggests that the print is a photo-mehanical reproduction of some original not an original in itself. Instead, the word "impression" should be used to describe the work that constitutes an original print, because the image has been pressed onto the paper or other support by pressure from a press onto an inked etching plate, lithogrpahic stone, woodblock, etc.

When the printing process is complete and the plate, stone, block or other printing surface destroyed or cancelled all that remains are the printed sheets -- the impressions -- most commonly limited to a fixed number, and which, taken together, comprise an edition of original prints -- a set of multiple originals.

It should be added that part of the artist-printmaker's motive in making an original print is not merely the hoped for economic benefit of having more than one work to sell for his or her effort, but the incorporation of the unique qualities of the chosen printmaking medium into the work of art. Part of every original print fancier's pleasure comes from appreciating the special qualities of the various printmaking media and a particular artist's (and perhaps his or her printer's) ability to enrich a print through their exploitation. It is also the habit of most collectors of original prints to seek out the best impression available, suggesting that within that edition of 100 there are differences from one impression to another thus adding another aspect of uniqueness to each and every impression of an original print.

Unfortunately, for the sake of simplicity, the above is not the last word on what makes a print an original print. The question arises as to whether the image presented in an original print must be original to the creative imagination of the person (or persons) who produced the image on the plate, stone, block, etc. For much of the history of printmaking, most prints made were produced by very skilled individuals who copied the image of another artist onto a matrix, most commonly engraved it onto a copper plate, from which the impressions were printed.

The individuals who did the copying may be thought of as artists themselves, possessing a wide range of artistic skills; or perhaps only as artisans or craftsmen, because no matter how fine their handwork, the involvement of the creative imagination in the work belonged to another. In either case, the publishers of these prints thought it appropriate to specify on the print itself who did what. The artist who conceived of and executed the original image in a medium such as oil painting, drawing, etc. typically had his or her name printed below the image accompanied by a Latin term meaning "he or she drew it." The engraver who copied it by engraving the image on a copper plate or other matrix also had his name printed with a Latin word or phrase meaning "he engraved it."

These prints, many of which have a beauty that makes them extraordinary works in their own right, form a classification of their own within printmaking and print collecting and are are sought after by many collectors who specialize in this kind of work. The conclusion to be drawn, however, for the purpose of deciding what is and what isn't an original print, is that an original print must not only involve the involvement of the artist in the creation of the image that is used to create the prints from a printing surface, but the image on the print has to have been invented or originally created by the same individual. Or at least usually this is the case, because nothing is simple in the world of printmaking.

Prints which are to one extent or another copies of the work of an artist in another medium are often termed "Afters," meaning they are created after an original that existed before. Generally afters are not considered to be original prints. However, grey areas exist. For example, as Professor Joby Patterson points out, when Marcantonio Raimondi copied Durer's Life of the Virgin woodblock book and some of his engravings in engravings of his own, and later when Raimondi made "a business deal with Raphael to copy his paintings in engraving for distribution around Europe," these Raimondi prints after Raphael, although being reproductive in nature, are inevitably imbued with such originality through the distinctive handwork of Raimondi that although still afters, are often classified as original prints. The point is, apparently, that when an artist copies the work of another but imbues that copy with a qualtiy of uniqueness that can be attributed to (and recognized as) the art of the copier, then the print becomes a candidate for origianal print status.

Another example of an after that qualifies as an original print is a print made (not simply reproduced by photomechanical means) by an artist after one of his or her own images in another medium. For example, most of Ernest Fiene's original prints show a close correspondence to oil paintings of his. Sometimes the image was present in the print first, but more often than not it appeared first in the painting. The lithographs that followed, however, were drawn by Fiene on the stone. Therefore he was both the creator of the image through the use of his own hand as well as the originator of the image through the use of his creative imagination. These are unequivocally original prints.

Another distinction must be made with regard to the degree of involvement of the artist within the printmaking process. Several legitimate exceptions to the requirement that the "hand of the artist" be involved in the process for creating original prints exist. For example, transfer lithographs, computer generated multiples (digital prints), and printmaking processes which incorporate photography to produce an effect rather than a reproduction qualify, according to many, even though the hand of the artist may never touch the printing surface. And graphic artists being the experimenters they have always been are continually modifying traditional methods for making original prints as well as developing new ones. It is safe to say that new, legitimate methods for making original prints will come about and survive or fail to survive on their own merits; and that the definition of an original print will, to one extent or another, necessarily remain in flexible enough to accomodate the ever changing methods of producing original art.

It is equally safe to say, unfortunately, that there will always be individuals within the print world whose purposes will be served by obscuring the line between the original print and photo-mechanical reproductions -- a distinction that should remain crucial to anyone who wishes to understand a tradition extending back at least as far as Durer and Rembrandt.

References for further study of a complicated subject:

the word "copy" is best avoided as a term to describe an original print because it suggests that the print is a photo-mehanical reproduction of some original not an original in itself. Instead, the word "impression" should be used to describe the work that constitutes an original print, because the image has been pressed onto the paper or other support by pressure from a press on an inked etching plate, lithogrpahic stone, woodblock, etc. on which the artist created it.

The original print has its origins in an art making process during which an image is created by an artist not on a surface that will become its permanent home -- as a canvas becomes the permanent home for a painting -- but on a printing surface from which the image will be transferred to its permanent home, most commonly a sheet (or many sheets) of paper, thus producing multiple originals.

It needs to be emphasized that the printing surface is not the artwork itself but merely a vehicle for transferring it, a part of a process. So there is no single "original" of which the prints are copies. When the printing process is complete and the plate, stone, block or other printing surface destroyed or cancelled all that remains are the printed sheets -- the impressions -- most commonly limited to a fixed number, and which, taken together, comprise an edition of original prints -- etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, etc.

It is also crucial to note some other distinguishing features of original prints:

An original print is a work conceived by the artist in a graphic medium such as etching, lithography, woodcut, etc., not a work of art executed in one medium and then reproduced in another by means of a printing process. An artist chooses to make prints not only because it permits the creation of more than one original but also because it allows him or her to imbue the work with the special qualities of a particular graphic medium. To the trained eye of the connoisseur, there is a world of difference between the line produced by a pencil drawing and the one produced by an etching, each to be treasured for its own intrinsic value. Each graphic medium yields its own artistic qualities not the qualities of another medium reproduced.

Furthermore for a print to be original, the hand of the artist should be involved in the creation of the image on the printing surface. If the image is transferred to the printing surface by means of a photo-mechanical process, the result is a reproductive print not an original print -- even if it is a visual wonder on hand-made paper, signed and numbered in pencil by the artist. In such cases, an original does exist, but is in another medium; for example, an oil painting or watercolor of which a photographic image has been made and transferred to a lithographic plate, from which, say, 200 lithographs are printed. Even though the end result is a real lithograph, it is not an original lithograph. It behooves all who participate in the world of prints to understand this.


Glossary of Printmaking Terms

Glossary
(This glossary remains in progress:
terms will be revised when necessary; new terms and illustrations will be added. Suggestions are welcome.)

After: An "after" within the context of printmaking is a print that is either intended as a copy of another work of art, or, possibly, a print that alludes so strongly to another work as to be virtually a copy. For example, Ernest Fiene's lithograph End of the Bowery (1933) is after his painting Below Cooper Square(1931). An After is will more than likely be an original print assuming it has been executed by the hand of the artist.

Artist-Print: An original print. (See the discussion of "Original Print" in the left column of this page.)

Artist-Printmaker: An artist who makes original prints

Artist proofs: Impressions, aside from the edition, reserved for the artist to keep for himself or herself. They are generally unnumbered or numbered separately from the edition, but signed in the same fashion as impressions from the edition.

Aquatint is an intaglio printmaking process that allows the artist to achieve tonal variations which are not, as in engraving, etching or drypoint dependent on the varying distances between or patterns of engraved or etched lines. The tonal effect is much like that achieved in a wash drawing or watercolor, hence the name "aquatint." In aquatint, a metal plate, usually copper, is covered with rosin dust either directly or in a spirit solution, and is made, either through heating or evaporation, to adhere to the plate's surface. The resulting granulated covering of the plate is called the ground. The artist has either etched the image onto the plate before the ground was applied or draws or traces it directly onto the ground with a soft pencil. The artist then covers those areas of the plate he does not want to print with an acid resistant coating know as stopout. These areas will print white or the color of the paper. The plate is then placed in an acid bath any number of times, depending on the desired result. The longer the plate is bathed the darker the unstopped out parts of the image will be when printed. Once the desired tone/darkness is achieved in a particular area of the image, that area is covered with the stopout, and the plate is bathed again. After the final acid bath, the ground is stripped away, the plate inked and wiped as in etching (see below) and the image printed. Though more often printed with black ink, various techniques are available to produce color aquatints. (See also Mezzotint below.) (See reference sources below for further information on color techniques.)

Canceled Plate, Stone, Block, etc.:

Catalogue Raisonné: A catalogue raisonné of an artist is, in simplest terms, a definitive listing of all the works an artist has created in his or her lifetime or up to the time of publication of the catalogue. In some cases, as here, a catalogue raisonné is restricted to presenting all the works of an artist in a particular medium, such as the artist's prints or oil paintings, or watercolors, etc.

Generally each entry in a catalogue raisonné includes authoritative information about the work such as date of creation, dimensions, medium, edition (for prints), signature and/or other annotation, a photographic reproduction, and the collection (or collections) in which the work is held. Each entry is also assigned a catalogue number by which the work is commonly referred to in other reference sources, generally preceded by the author's name. For example, Thomas Hart Benton's lithograph "Coming 'Round the Mountain" would be referred to as "Fath 4," the catalogue raisonné of Benton's prints having been compiled by Creekmore Fath.

Canceled plate or stone: Definition in progress

Chine collé (also called chine appliqué) is a method of affixing a thin sheet of delicate Asian paper on which the artist's image is printed to a heavier backing sheet as the two go through the lithographic press together. A paste and the pressure of the press permanently affix one sheet to the other. This achieves the dual purpose of creating the subtlety of impressions printed on Asian papers while maintaining the strength of the heavier backing stock. (Chine-collé is a French term meaning literally "pasted or glued Chinese [paper]."

Color Prints/Registration: For centuries fine art prints were typically printed with one color ink (usually black ink). When color was added, the most common method was coloring the printed images by hand (hand coloring) after the printing process was complete. Eventually techniques for printing in color were developed for all the major printmaking processes. Usually these techniques required separate passes through the press for each color ink used, requiring the paper to be aligned with the plate in exactly the same position for each subsequent run through the press. A common method to accomplish this exacting task was to make registration holes in the margins of the printing matrix. Pins would then be pushed through the paper into the holes to secure the paper into the proper position for applying the different color inks. These telltale registration marks (pinholes) can often be observed in the margins of prints printed in color. For more detailed discussion of various color printing methods see the bibliography below.

Computer Generated Multiples:

Drypoint is a is an intaglio printmaking process -- or the print made from such a process -- similar to engraving (but different from etching) in that the image is created directly on a metal plate, usually copper, using a tool capable of making lines in the metal. The main difference between drypoint and engraving is between the tools used to create the lines (in drypoint a steel needle with rounded head as opposed to a burin, which is most commonly a rectangular steel rod) and the fact that the burr or metal shavings that rise up out of and along the edge of the line or furrow as the drypoint needle digs it are left wholly or partially in place rather than being scraped or filed away as in engraving. The reason for leaving the burr on the plate is the effect created during printing. The effect is a softer, textured line produced on the paper by ink that adheres to the irregular shaped burr as well as settling into the indentations of the lines. Editions of drypoints are necessarily small because the burr wears down quickly under the pressure of each run through the press so that it is not long before the desired effect created by the burr is reduced or disappears.

Edition: An edition of prints is most commonly, especially from the 20th century onward, the group of numbered impressions of an image printed from a single printing surface, such as an etching plate, woodblock, lithographic stone, etc. Unnumbered impressions printed from the same printing surface are often designated trial proofs, artist proofs, etc. and are not considered part of the edition; rather, they are impressions outside the edition. Impressions outside of an edition are common; thus, the number of impressions as indicated in pencil on a print is generally not the total number of extant impressions. When known, the number of impressions in an edition as well as the number and type of impressions from outside an edition will be noted in a catalogue raisonné entry.

Engraving (also called line engraving) is a is an intaglio printmaking process -- or the print made from such a process -- in which a plate, usually copper or steel, upon which an artist draws his image directly into the plate by making lines in the metal with a tool called a burin or graver. Whatever effect the artist wants to achieve he or she is completely dependent on lines -- their width, their depth, their angles, their proximity to one another, etc. Engraving is the simplest and most fundamental of the intaglio processes and is usually thought of as the earliest one used for making prints. Engraved plates are inked and printed in ways generally described under Etching and Intaglio below.

Etching (hard ground) is an intaglio printmaking process -- or the print made from such a process -- in which a plate, usually copper, is covered with an acid resistant ground, a film-like material often made of a mixture of materials such as bitumen, beeswax and aspheltum. The artist then employs an etching needle to draw the image in the ground thereby exposing the metal below in the same configuration as has been drawn in the ground, however, without touching the plate. (This intaglio process differs from engraving and drypoint processes in that the artist does not create the image directly in the metal plate but only on the ground covering it.) The plate is then bathed in acid, usually nitric, which bites (eats into) the plate creating the artist's image in the metal. (The etcher's line is therefore created indirectly by the acid and is said to be a bitten line.) The ground is then removed from the plate and the plate is inked so that the ink settles into the bitten lines. The excess ink is wiped away, and the inked plate and paper are passed through an etching press so that under pressure the ink, in the configuration of the image, is printed, that is, pushed up out of the bitten lines and onto the paper. Thus one etched impression or etching is created. This process may be repeated thereby creating multiple originals of the artist's image.

Etching -- variations:

  • Etching -- soft ground: is a variation on the hard ground method that allows the artist to create a more textured line. In this method the harder ground is mixed with another substance such as axel grease, rolled onto the plate, which is then heated until the ground is tacky. A piece of paper is placed onto the sticky soft ground and the artist, usually using a pencil or crayon draws the image on the upward facing side of the paper so that when the paper is pealed off the soft ground, the ground under the drawn lines adheres to the paper pealing away with it leaving the metal exposed in the configuration of the artist's image. Biting the plate, inking, wiping and printing are similar to that of hard ground described above. Many variations of this method have been developed over time. See sources below for further discussion.
  • Etching --steel-faced: (definition in progress)

Ground: a film-like material often made of a mixture of materials such as bitumen, beeswax and aspheltum used to cover an etching plate and in which the artist draws his image with an etching needle.

Impression: An impression is any piece of paper or other substance on which an image from a plate or other printing surface has been "impressed." More commonly the term refers to one of the total number of original prints from an edition and/or any proofs from outside a numbered edition such as an artist proof or trial proof. The term "impression" is much preferable to "copy" because the latter suggests there is an original of which a certain number of reproductive copies has been made. With an original print, each impression is an original because the plate, stone, block or other surface on which the image is first created is merely a device used to produce a work of art not an artwork in itself. The printed image taken from it is therefore an original print or impression, not a copy of anything.

Intaglio is one of the three traditional categories of original printmaking processes, the other two being planography and relief. In intaglio printmaking the ink, before printing, sits below the surface of the plate (most commonly a copper plate). By means of the pressure of the press it is forced up and out of a groove or other indentation and onto the paper. The major original printmaking processes that fall within the category of intaglio are engraving, etching, drypoint, aquatint and mezzotint.

Linocut (also called Linoleum cut): A linoleum cut is a relief process print made by using a block made of linoleum in the manner a block of wood is used to make a woodblock print. Linoleum yields limited possibilities for detail and because of its relative softness makes the carving less difficult than the other relief methods.

Lithography and lithograph: Lithography is a planographic (See planography below.) printmaking process, and a lithograph is a print made from such a process. Traditionally lithography employs as its printing surface a flat piece of limestone (especially limestone from a quarry in Kelheim, Germany) but metal plates, especially zinc and aluminum plates are also commonly used. The surface of limestone has several qualities that makes it particularly suitable for drawing on and printing from. The stone has a surface particularly suited to holding the greasy ink necessary in lithography. Lithography is based on the fact that grease and water do not mix, and, therefore, inked surfaces of the stone will print but surfaces that are wet with water will not. Thus the printing and nonprinting surfaces can remain on the same level, unlike in relief and intaglio. As a result lithography has often been seen as the print medium providing the closest parallel to drawing, making it both more natural for and popular with artists -- but perhaps less distinctive from other graphic media in result. Rarely does anyone mistake an etching or woodcut for a drawing as might happen with a lithograph. The most common drawing device in lithography is a greasy (or lithographic) crayon; however, other techniques are available. For example, tusche, a greasy black ink that can be applied with a brush or a pen is used to produce a looser effect such as that seen in a wash drawing or watercolor. The artist uses these methods to create the image directly on the stone without having to be concerned about digging in metal or carving out patterns in relief, hence the greater kinship with to drawing and painting.

As presented here the process sounds relatively simple, but finally it is not, and its complexity is the reason why so many artist-printmakers working in lithography employ professional printers. For an understanding of the complexities involved, especially in preparing the stone or plate and in the printing portion of the process, see sources listed in the bibliography below.

Lithograph -- variations:

  • Lithograph -- transfer lithograph: Because a lithographic stone is heavy and therefore not easy to transport an artist who does not want to draw where the stone is located (often in the printer's shop) or who is uncomfortable drawing on the stone may employ a method called transfer lithography. This is accomplished through the use of a specially prepared paper. The artist draws on this paper instead of the stone. The image is transferred to the stone by passing the paper through the press, often several times, then peeling it away leaving the image on the stone. A debate has long gone on among artists and printers as to whether a true lithograph must be drawn on the stone directly or may be transferred to it. Matisse was one who commonly used the transfer method.

Mezzotint: is an intaglio printmaking process -- or the print made from such a process -- the main feature of which is the production of graduated tone, as in aquatint, but accomplished differently. In mezzotint a multiplicity of small indentations evenly distributed are made in a metal plate. This is done by means of a roulette or a rocker, tools whose heads are covered with metal points which on being rolled or rocked over the surface of the plate create the indentations. If immediately after this point the plate were inked and printed, the image would be totally black. To achieve the tonal image, the artist must scrape down, to one degree or another, areas of indentation. Areas that are reduced to being completely flat, print white. Degrees of indentation between full depth and flat print a range of tones between black and white, thus making possible the graduated tonal image upon printing. In mezzotint the artist begins with a plate that will print all black and is gradually hand-tooled to produce lighter shades upon printing. In aquatint the longer the artist bathes his coated plate in acid the darker it gets.

Monotype (also called monoprint): A print made by a process that allows for only one impression to be pulled. Generally, the artist creates an image by drawing or painting it on a surface from which it can be transferred/printed onto a piece of paper. Because the image has nothing to stabilize it on the printing surface (as ink sits in the in the grooves of an engraving or etching, or is chemically fixed on the stone of a lithograph), the image is unstable on the printing surface and therefore not fit for producing more than one impression.

Original Print: See "A Brief Dissertation on the Term Original Print."

Original Printmaking Media:

Papers for Printmaking: Definitions are being prepared

  • Laid Papers:
  • Wove Papers:
  • Asian Papers:

Planography is one of the four traditional categories of original printmaking processes, the other three being intaglio, relief, and screenprinting. In Planographic printmaking the ink, before printing, sits on the surface of the stone or plate at the same level as the non-printing surfaces. This fact allows the artist to draw on the printing surface easily and directly without having to lower (intaglio) or raise (relief) the level of the surface that will bear the ink and print the inked portion of the image. The major original printmaking process that falls within the category of planography is lithography (see above).

Photo-mechanical Process: Definition in preparation

Printer (for artists):

Relief Process: One of the three traditional categories of original printmaking processes, the other two being intaglio and planography. In relief printmaking the ink sits above the surface of the block (most commonly a woodblock or linoleum block). The artist creates his or her design by carving the wood or other material from around the surfaces that will print, thus making the printing surface stand higher than the remainder of the block. The ink adhering to these higher surfaces is transferred to the paper through pressure of the press or other device.

Reproductive Print: Definition in preparation

Roulette: An instrument consisting of a toothed wheel on a handle that can be rolled over a plate covered with an etching ground or over a bare plate in order to produce a pattern of dot-like markings in the print. Roulettes are used in various intaglio processes including etching and drypoint.

Screenprinting (also called silkscreen and serigraphy): definition in preparation

State: When an artist makes a change in a plate, stone, block, or other printing surface after a certain number of impressions have already been printed, the impressions subsequently printed are called a new state of the print. Artists generally signify the differing states by annotating the impressions "1st state," "2nd state," etc. Then again they may not, leaving the distinctions to be perceived by the connoisseur. Even when an impression is annotated as being a specific state, the differences themselves may be very subtle and difficult to find. Of course, the artist might destroy the early state(s) altogether as being unsatisfactory. In a case in which an artist pulls a few impressions to see what changes may be needed before printing the final edition, the early impressions are more likely to be called trial proofs, and possibly so marked (if not destroyed), rather than designated an earlier state. When an artist marks an impression or set of impressions as a state other than the final state it must be assumed he or she wishes the different versions to be preserved.

Steel-facing: Much larger editions of etchings are possible when a copper plate is steel-faced because the steel wears down more slowly than the copper as impression after impression is printed.

Stipple: An engraving technique employing an etching needle or roulette to make a pattern of dots by penetrating through the ground into the metal.

Trial proof: A test impression printed so that the artist can see on paper how the image created on the printing surface (etching plate, woodblock, lithographic stone, etc.) has turned out. Trial proofs are not part of the edition and are generally unsigned and unnumbered. A trial proof that the artist approves is termed "BAT" or 'bon à tirè" (French for "good/approved to be printed") and is occasionally signed.

Woodcut (Also called Woodblock): is a relief printmaking process -- or the print made from such a process -- in which the artist carves from the surface of a block of wood an image the printing areas of which are higher than the surrounding non-printing areas. The artist achieves the raised lines and other printing areas by carving away the wood that surrounds them using an array of chisel like tools. Woodcut images are generally carved on and printed from the side grain or plank surface of a woodblock.

Wood Engraving: is a relief printmaking process -- or the print made from such a process -- in which the image is carved not on the side grain or plank side of the wood as in a woodcut but on the end grain, and generally from a harder wood, especially boxwood. Although the word "engraving" is employed here, the result is not an intaglio but a relief printing surface. The wood engraver cuts away the area around the printing lines whereas the intaglio engraver cuts out the printing lines themselves. The image produced through wood engraving consists of the many fine lines familiar to anyone who has looked at the ubiquitous illustrations in nineteenth century magazines such as Harper's.

Bibliography for further reading on printmaking techniques, terminology and the subject of what a print is.

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This page last revised: Sunday, November 18, 2007