Relief printing is a generic term used to describe the process of printing from a raised surface where the non-image areas have been cut away. Wood and linoleum are traditional matrices used for relief printing. Example of Relief printing: David Bates "White Roses"
Woodcut is one of the oldest and simplest forms of printmaking. Various implements (both hand tools and power tools) can be used to cut the image into a block of wood. Paper is placed over the inked block and rubbed by hand or passed through a press to transfer the ink from block to paper to create the image.
Woodcut prints and illustrations were first popularized in China in the 9th century and spread to Europe in the 14th century where they became a popular medium for the mass distribution of religious and instructive imagery. The woodcut was developed to an exceptional level of artistic achievement in Japan during the 17th-18th centuries, the ukiyo-e period.
Jim Dine has used woodblocks often, for straight woodcuts or mixed with other printing techniques. He has creatively pushed the medium by employing unusual tools such as electric grinders and chainsaws. Example of Woodcut: Francesco Clemente "Self-Portrait with Lemon Heart" Linocut
The linoblock consists of a layer of linoleum, usually mounted on a block of wood. This soft material is easily carved using knives and gouges. The image is then printed as with a woodcut. Linocuts were popularized by Pablo Picasso. Example of Linocut: James Siena "Sagging Grid"
The intaglio printmaking method is characterized by an image being cut into the surface of a plate. Traditionally the matrix is copper, zinc or other metal and the cutting is made with sharp hand tools or by using acid. When ink is applied to the plate, it is held in the incised image areas and wiped from the surface, then printed on a press on dampened paper. Engraving
For this technique, a metal plate is incised with a tool called a burin. Great skill is required to manipulate the burin as it is pushed at different angles and degrees of pressure to produce a characteristic thin to thick line. Engraving techniques were used by the Greeks, Romans and Etruscans for decorating objects but were not used for printmaking until the mid 15th century in Germany. Engraved images are comprised of a multitude of crisp, fine lines. Shading is traditionally rendered by multiple parallel lines or cross-hatching. Example of Engraving: Peter Schuyff "Graves Marked (Vertical)" Drypoint
As with engraving, this is a process in which marks are made on a plate using a sharp, pointed instrument. Unlike engraving, in which small amounts of metal are completely removed as the lines are incised, drypoint is characterized by the curl of displaced metal, called the burr, which forms as the line is cut. When inked, the burr creates a distinctive velvety appearance. This technique is usually done on soft copper plates. As the edition is printed, the burr becomes flattened and less distinct. Example of Drypoint: Santi Moix "And the Head Responded..."
This is a very beautiful but time-consuming technique, which was most popular in the 18th and 19th centuries for portraiture and reproducing other works of art. In creating a mezzotint, first the entire metal plate is roughened by marking fine lines into the plate in all directions with a rocker (If printed at this stage, the entire paper would be black). Tones are created by burnishing or scraping into the plate, working from black back to middle values and highlights thus allowing the print to have continuous tonal...