• 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 printing method that involves using a copper plate to print a design or a
section of copy, by use of acid and a sharp knife. The plate is first coated with the acid that
is usually known as the etching ground, and the design is then drawn in using the tool.
The plate is then exposed to nitric acid which removes the parts of the plate not
protected by the printing ground, which forms the pattern that was drawn in. These lines
hold ink, so when the plate is applied to paper, the etched design will be inked on to make
the finished print.
The earliest known use of etching was in 1513 by Swiss artist Urs Graf who used iron
plates instead of the now more widely used copper thanks to the lighter weight.
Etching is a relatively cheap process and can be useful for mainly images and graphics in a
publication, as copy would be very time consuming to etch into the ground. The costs
would apply to acquiring the sheet metal for the base, the acid as the etching ground and
finally the ink and tool to etch with.
Etching produces very
striking images that are
composed of millions of
tiny lines cut into the
metal. The picture seen
on the right was
composed of such lines,
that allows a lot of
details to be presented
in a precise manner that
may be missed out on a
larger scale print.
Etching allows every
detail to be captured as
the artist envisions.
Linocut is a technique similar to etching but using a sheet of linoleum instead of metal.
First used by the Die Brucke artists in Germany around 1905, the process involves cutting
a design into a sheet of linoleum which is then completely inked. When pressed to a page,
the raised areas (The uncarved lino) will press down onto the paper and print the carved
image with the ink. Since there is no grain, using lino cut can yield some very artistic
effects because of the precise nature that would be unobtainable with most of printing
methods that are not as precise. However, linocut is only really suitable for smaller works
due to the fragile nature of linoleum. This makes it useful for single pictures or graphics
that would appear prominently on a finished piece.
As seen here, linocut
allows for very bold and
striking pieces with a lot
of intricate and artistic
precision, however, it is
limited to small works,
as lino is quite fragile
and would likely break if
attempting to print a
• In comparison, linocut and etching offer a
similar way of printing mainly graphics and
pictures, but linocut offers a much bolder
product thanks to the softer material, making
cuts easier and more precise. Etching
however, makes use of a tool to cut out
thousands of small lines that make up a
picture, allowing a lot of artistic details to be
Letterpress is a method that involves a press and movable type – carved letters, numbers
and symbols onto small blocks that can be arranged and altered to form type, be it
sentences, paragraphs and headings. Letterpressed publications generally consist entirely
of type but in the right hands, this method can produce some very spectacular typography
thanks to the ability to strictly control the position and spacing of each character.
This method was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid 15th century and was widely
used for books and other literature, bringing readable material into the hands of most
ordinary folk as letterpress streamlined the printing process, where it was previously done
by hand. This is a more expensive method as it would involve having an actual press
machine, as well as all the individual character blocks to print with, which significantly
raises the cost.
However, the results that are produced with this method are of a very high standard, and
neat typography is very easy to achieve with letterpress thanks to the precise nature.
As seen here,
letterpress can produce
very regal and
with an emphasis on
type. The imprinting in
particular really gives
the product a 3D aspect
and gives it a much
higher quality finish.
Rotogravure is a process that involves engraving the image onto a cylinder, and then it is
partially submerged in an ink basin which fills the engravings. It is then scraped by a
doctor blade to remove excess ink and then the substrate is placed between the gravure
cylinder and the impression roller, applying the print. This produces a very rough but
detailed rolled piece with a variety of densities, that is mostly suited for large scale images
and graphics, less so for copy and type.
Rotogravure first saw use in the last quarter of the 9th century, when the similar method
of photo transfer with light sensitive gelatin was discovered, which paved the way for
more advanced printing techniques.
The costs associated with this process will include both the machine itself and the gravure
cylinder, which are made of high quality steel and plated with copper. The publisher
would also have to account for the cost of the ink fountain, which would need a lot of ink
for the cylinders to have a sufficient fill in the engravings.
As seen on the right, a
portrait produced with
rotogravure offers a
variety of shades and
densities which would
be unobtainable with
an older process such as
lino cut, where all of the
ink applied would be
much stronger and
create a bolder image
• Comparing these two methods, they are both
suited for two different things (letterpress for
type and rotogravure for graphics/pictures) and
unsuitable for the other, but ofr their strengths
they perform well, both achieving very high
quality results. As well as that, they offer several
benefits over other methods, with letterpress
having a unique embossing technique that
presses in the letters, and rotogravure can display
many different shades and densities thanks to the
Photocopying is a printing procedure that involves making copies of paper documents,
mostly with a technique called xerography, which utilises electrostatic charges on a light
sensitive receptor to attract and transfer toner particles onto the paper to form a copied
images. It is then heated so the toner sticks to the paper and does not run. First invented
by Chester Carlson in 1938, as a way of finding a more efficient way of copying large
amounts of documents. While originally a process that took a few minutes, modern
photocopying takes mere seconds, and produces copies that are completely identical to
the source material.
This process is widespread and easy to do in the modern world, with machines using the
method currently available. They can be found as combination printers which are more
home office orientated, whereas large businesses where a lot of information is processed
are more likely to have large dedicated photocopiers that can make many more copies in a
shorter space of time.
Seen on the right,
generally more suited
for text copying rather
than full page graphics
and pictures. Doing so
results in quite a grainy
image, with the seams
of where the toner was
applied clearly visible
and detracting heavily
from the quality of the
Laser printing is a more modern application of digital printing that was first invented in
1971 by Gary Starkweather, who adapted and existing Xerox copier to create the first laser
printer. The process works by using a laser to project the image onto a charged rotating
drum. Particles of powdered ink (toner) are then electrostatically picked up into the
charged areas, where they have not been exposed to the laser beam. The drum then
prints the completed image onto paper and heats it to fuse the ink onto the paper. This
process is much more powerful and quicker than the photocopying method it is derived
from, taking only seconds to produce printed documents.
Similar to photocopying, laser printing is a widely used and available method and there
are many companies producing laser printers today. They are quick and easy to set up and
don’t really require any prior knowledge, however one of the drawbacks of such a device
is the high cost, higher than a photocopier or regular inkjet printer.
Documents or graphics
printed with a laser
printer are of a very
high quality, losing
almost no detail in the
process. Despite this
however, there is a
large cost associated
with laser printing
thanks to the cost of the
machines, and the
extreme difficulty of
trying to replicate the
process without the aid
of such a machine.
• Comparing both photocopying and laser
printing results in both processes having
strengths and weaknesses. Photocopying is
able to replicate both text and pictures, but
very large graphics often come out grainy and
low quality. Laser printing prints both to a very
high standard. The drawback however is the
cost – a photocopier is in most cases cheaper
than a laser printer, with the cheapness at the
expense of quality.
• 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
For this brief I think that letterpress would work the best. This is because the client
has only requested text on their product, which is best suited for a process that
deals only with type and not graphics, which is exactly what letterpress is. Also,
this process has quite a nice indenting effect from the character blocks, which
really adds to the high class feeling, fitting as they are meant to be for a wedding.
Letterpress is a process that takes a little longer than others as the letters have to
be arranged individually on the printer, which fits in with the client’s brief in that
they are willing to wait some time for them to be produce. The process is also one
that requires some technical knowledge to undertake and requires specialised
equipment, which may add to the costs. This also fits in as the client is willing to
spend a little more money to get them to a very high standard.
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
For this brief I think that linocut would be the best printing method thanks to the
inexpensive materials and relatively simple process. Linoleum sheets are very
easily acquired from hardware and furniture shops and can be pierced with a
variety of tools, not requiring any specialised equipment to cut in the design. It is
also a method that has very bold and artistic results, fitting in with the artist’s need
of different designs for test runs. Linocut uses no electronic aid so it fits with the
brief’s line of no electronic printing methods. Because of the relatively weak
material, the artist will be able to do lots of different designs without wasting too
much time or resources.
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
For this brief, I believe that the photocopying method would be most suited to
producing a large amount of simple works. The client wants 3000 flyers printed
and likely in a short amount of time, which is what a photocopier is capable of,
instead of utilizing a more expensive printing press.
The flyers are simple and only have one colour, so no complicated settings or
configurations are needed for this print run. And due to the fact that they will be
produced on standard grade paper, the costs will be kept down as the material is
cheap and easily available. Photocopying equipment is readily available to
purchase and can be done at home or in the office.
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
For this brief I believe that laser printing would be the optimal method of printing
the newspapers. It is a quick, cheap and easy method and can be accomplished
with only a laser printer, not requiring an expensive printing press of complicated
procedure. Each copy will be cheaper than a copy that is produced on higher
quality paper, with each copy equal to about 15p thanks to the standard grade
used. Since the publication will only consist of text and simple pictures, a more
advanced printing method is not really required for this brief, which will keep costs
down and help the council to publish the paper in-house using a laser printer.
10,000 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
For this brief I think that laser printing would be the best choice. This is because
the client requires many copies of a very high quality, which is what laser printing
excels at in being able to print many copies in a short amount of time while still
retaining a high image quality. Because the printer will be using smaller size paper
than a printing press, and works on a smaller scale, the costs will be much lower
than if it was printed on a larger scale. However, the client may be using a higher
quality paper stock thanks to the intended purpose, which will raise prices