• Explain method in own words
• When it was invented/by who (if information is available)
• How the method works/what do you need to do to use this
• What does the method look like when used (include images)
• What are the costs involved with using this method
• How quickly the process can be done
• Provide images to illustrate discussion
• Reference at least one example with a image.
Etching is a very old hand printing method developed by artists in the 1500s that
involves spreading an acid resistant waxy ground onto a sheet of metal and then
scratching parts of it off with an etching needle to create a design.
Once the design is finished the sheet is dipped into a vat of acid, the acid eats away the
exposed metal and leaves small lines that have sunk into the metal. The parts covered by
the ground are not affected by the acid.
The sheet is then taken out of the vat and the waxy ground is cleaned off before a thick
ink is applied to the metal plate. The ink is rubbed into the acid cut lines and wiped away
from the other parts and then put through a printing press and apply pressure to achieve
Disadvantages of this method are that it requires quite a high level of skill as to do as you
must hand draw the design with the etching needle. It also takes time especially when
very highly detailed prints are made. The method uses quite harsh chemicals that could
be dangerous and toxic as well as very large pieces of machinery like the printing press.
Advantages of this method are that once the plate has been made it will last for a very
long time and many prints can be made of the same design and now the modern etching
chemicals are a lot safer than the original ones used in the 1500s.
Many different forms of etching have now been developed and when used together they
can often create very interesting results. Commercially it is not really used but it is still
widely used as an artistic medium.
Linocut is a more modern hand printing method developed by expressionist artists in
Berlin in the early 1900s. Linocut uses a much cheaper and easier to get hold of material
(linoleum) to create its prints. Because the printing surface is raised it is a relief printing
The linoleum is a much easier material to work with than the previously used wood and
allows printing blocks to be produced at a much higher rate. Designs are drawn on the
linoleum and then unwanted material is removed using a knife or some other such tool.
The artist must cut away the unwanted parts but make sure the design he has cut is a
reversal of the final image he wishes to print so it comes out correctly once printed.
Letters must also be reversed on the lino if they are used.
Once the lino is cut, paint of ink is applied and then the print is pressed against the paper
or material being printed on.
If extra detail and colour is wanted one method is cutting some of the linoleum, doing a
print, cutting some more and doing another print in a different colour building the image
up. This does mean that more prints can not be made so print numbers must be carefully
The method is loved because of the rustic, hand made look that can be achieved by
using it and the distinctive, block shaped images you get with it.
Lino is a strong material and so can produce many prints if looked after carefully. It is a
relatively quick method but the regular ink applications that must be made often slow
the process down. It is a very cheap method and is very easy if simple designs are
If doing very intricate designs however this way of printing can be very time consuming
especially when the multiple stage method with different colours is used. When using
the multiple colour method special care must be made to line the prints up because
overlapping of the colours will lower the quality of the print and not look good.
Linocut and etching are quite similar methods of printing in many ways. They both
require quite skilled artists in order to create detailed designs as they are hand
drawn onto the prints. It is easier to create more detailed designs with etching as
each tiny line scratched into the ground can be eaten away by the acid and printed
whereas linocut is better at printing larger blocks of shape instead of small detail
and lots of lines.
Linocut uses cheap and readily available materials that anyone could get hold of and
use without the need of getting specialist equipment or materials. Etching on the
other hand requires the waxy acid resistant ground be sourced as well as the acid,
metal sheets and printing press so is a much more specialised and expensive
method of print.
Etching only really allows for black and white so although it can create more detail it
does not enable the artist to print multiple colours as linocut does.
Letterpress was developed by Johannes Gutenberg during the 1500s and brought on the
“age of enlightenment” exposing a much larger number of the population to literature.
Before this all books were copied out by hand, this was extremely time consuming and
hugely expensive meaning that only the very rich could afford to buy books and only
these few could read.
With the invention of the letterpress, a much quicker and cheaper method of copying
books Gutenberg changed all this. Levels of literacy across England increased rapidly and
an information revolution began, taking away a lot of the power the church and the rich
had over the poor.
This method is not as popular or widely used as it has been in the past but is not used as
much today and although it requires boxes of type and some heavy machinery it is not
Letterpress is a relatively straight forward concept involving the individual letters of a
page being arranged in order to create the type before being inked and put in to the
The printing press applies a large amount of pressure which transfers the ink on to the
paper, this pressure also causes a distinct indent on the page. The moveable type is then
rearranged and the next pages can be printed.
Setting up a page of full type can be very time consuming but then many exact prints
can be made quickly.
Rotogravure printing is where an image is etched onto the surface of a metal plate or
cylinder. The etched areas are filled with ink and the raised parts are wiped clean. This
process is very similar to the hand printing technique etching.
Once the printing plates are prepared, paper or other material can be pressed against it
to make a print.
Rotogravure can produce fine detailed images and can work well with short print runs
but is most effective on long print runs where a large amount of copies are needed. The
cost of setting up this method is high but once finished it can rapidly and cheaply
produce print at a high quality because of the durable printing surface. To make the cost
of making the cylinders worthwhile a very large print line needs to be printed and the
huge machinery used means this method is only used on a commercial scale.
It can be used for CMYK printing where each colour is applied with its own plate or
cylinder with steps in between to allow the colours to dry.
The ink used often contains a number of toxic and harmful chemicals.
Rotogravure is really just an evolved and modernised version of letterpress that is able
to do more things such as CMYK printing and the ability to print detailed images.
Rotogravure and letterpress both take a long time to set up initially but then can
complete the print quickly and many times. Letterpress does need to be
collaborated after each page however whereas rotogravure can be set up to print
Rotogravure uses some harmful toxic chemicals and also uses huge specialist
machinery that can only be used on a commercial scale but letterpress can be
used at least scaled down by anyone.
Photocopying was launched in the 1960s and was seen as a huge leap in technology at
its time but now they are everywhere. The quality of them has improved greatly and
many can do different things like stapling, They still struggle to print quality photograph
The way that photocopiers work is that they contain a cylinder that is covered in a
photoconductive material that becomes conductive when exposed to light. A lamp
shines on the document that is to be copied and the white areas reflect light onto the
surface of the cylinder. The areas exposed become conductive and the parts not are
negatively charged. The toner in the photocopier is a positively charged powder and it is
attracted to the negatively charged parts of the areas of the cylinder. The attracted
toner is then transferred onto a piece of paper and heat is applied, melting and sticking
it to the paper.
Photocopiers are easy to use, versatile; good with short and long print runs and do the
job with copying anything. They are cheap to run and are very easily accessible with all
schools, colleges or libraries having at least one..
Laser printers work in the same way as photocopiers using photosensitive material but
instead of a lamp shining through the document a laser beam charges specific parts of
the cylinder. This allows the powdered ink to, just like in photocopying, be attracted to
the charged sections, then being heated and pressed onto a piece of paper.
Laser printers are often much smaller than photocopiers and easy and cheap to run.
They are perfect for small print runs such as the type you may need to do in an office.
The quality of the images are good especially for prints with a mix of text and images
but they are limited to just 4 colour toners.
• For each of the following scenarios, you need
to decide on the best printing method to use.
• You need to explain your choice of method
considering technical and aesthetic qualities,
cost, speed and the skills and knowledge
100 high quality wedding invitations.
• Your client wants very high quality wedding
invitation and is prepared for them to cost a
lot of money and take time to produce. The
invitations will be on high quality paper. The
invitations will only have text on them.
Decision and justification
Justification- The client is prepared to pay a lot of money and has allowed for a lot
of time to ensure they get high quality invitations. Letterpress takes quite a long
time and is quite expensive but as these disadvantages are not an issue for this
particular client letterpress is the perfect method.
Only 100 prints are required, this relatively small number will be dealt with easily
by the printing press and after the letter stamps are arranged should be done
Letterpress prints letters very well but does not reproduce images very well, as
the invitations only feature text that will not be a problem.
The invitations will be on high quality paper, when text is printed onto high quality
paper using letter press it leaves a slight indent. This is because of the pressure
applied in the print press. The indent on the page gives it a very nice look and will
work very well for something like this wedding invitation.
50 special edition greetings cards.
• Your client, a talented local artist, wants to
produce small print runs of greetings cards.
They do not want to use electronic printing
methods. They need a cheap and simple
method of printing so they can produce small
runs of different designs but it needs to look
arty and handmade when it’s finished.
Decision and justification
Justification- Linocut is a cheap and simple hand printing method that produces
work that has a distinctive hand-made look to it. It was invented by artists in the
early 1900’s and is designed to create arty, interesting prints.
It is perfectly suited for printing smaller runs and so will meet the artists needs
easily. The artist must just cut another piece of linoleum for each new design, this
may take time but should not be a problem as the artist has not specified any time
3000 flyers for coffee shop.
• You client has a one week only special coming
up and wants 3000 basic, single colour flyers
to promote it. As the flyers will be given out in
the street they only need to be cheap, in fact,
the cheaper the better. They also need to be
Decision and justification
Decision- Laser Printing
Justification- Laser Printing is a very cheap and very easy method of reproducing
print products. Laser printers are readily available and can be used to produce
relatively large print runs such as the 3000 needed by the client adequately.
The client only wants single coloured fliers, laser printers sometimes have trouble
printing large areas of one colour but as they are only cheap promotional fliers to
be handed out on the street I believe this method will do fine.
100 copies of the village news letter.
• The parish council want to produce a monthly
news letter for the village. It will be a single
side of A4. It will mostly contain text but might
occasionally have a black and white picture. It
will be given away for free so should be cheap.
The council would be interested in printing it
themselves to save money.
Decision and justification
Justification- Photocopiers work perfectly at reproducing text accurately and
quickly at a very low cost. Quality of the machines have improved greatly since its
launch in the 1960’s so the newsletters should be perfectly legible and of a good
standard. In its early days Photocopiers struggled with the printing of images but
now they cope better and should easily print the few black and white images the
newsletter may sometimes use.
Office buildings such as the one the council will use often have photocopiers
already on site and so the council could print the newsletters themselves.
100,000 copies of a fashion magazine
• WM Fashion want to produce a new catalogue
to send out to its current customers as well as
its existing ones. It needs to be high quality
colour printing but it needs to have a low per
Decision and justification
Justification- This printing method is relatively costly to set up but once done is
cheap per copy on large print runs such as the one required by the client.
Rotogravure produces fine, detailed images perfect for the high quality magazine
required by the client.