Conejo Valley Art Museum Education
Reproduction Techniques


A serigraph is an original print. According to the Western Serigraph Institute, a serigraph is a fine art direct and original process in the graphics class of lithography, etching, engraving, woodcut, cellocut, etc. The designer artist-craftsman conceives the idea and carries through the whole process involving individual skills in creating the stencils and in printing. Stencil for each color is destroyed and it is usually so unique as to make copying or repeating impractical or impossible. The editions are limited and each serigraph is signed by the artist.


A print made by cutting a design into a metal plate (usually copper) with a pointed steel tool known as a burin. The burr raised on either side of the incised line is removed; ink is then rubbed into the V-shaped grooves and wiped off the surface; the plate, covered with a damp sheet of paper, is run through heavy press. The image on the paper is the reverse of that on the plate.

Dry point:

When a fine steel needle is used instead of a burin, a dry point engraving is produced; a softer line characterizes this technique.


Wood engraving, a technique of carving away the wood around the image area engraving on a block of wood cut across the grain. The remaining raised image area is inked and pressed to a sheet of paper or other material, producing an image the reverse of that on the block. Finally detailed prints result from this method.


A print made by coating a copper plate with an acid-resistant resin and drawing through this ground exposing the metal with a sharp instrument called a stylus. The plate is bathed in acid which eats into the lines; it is then heated to remove the resin, and finally inked and printed on paper. The technique itself is called etching.


Intaglio includes the following techniques:


A printing technique that creates tonal areas instead of or addition to, line. A metal plate is coated with a granular material such as rosin, and the rosin is fused to the plate by heat. Areas of the plate that are not to be etched at all are coated with a masking material, or spray on resist. After cooling, the plate is given an acid bath and the acid bites the metal in the tiny spaces between grains of rosin; areas protected by resist not bitten at all. Depending on the coarseness or finesses of the granules, how densely they are distributed over the plate and the strength and duration of the acid bath, any light, dark or graded tone may be achieved. The term aquatint is used because the subtle tones created are similar in appearance to washes created by fluid watercolors.


A method of making prints using a sheet of plastic. Liquid plastic is poured over a rigid support of hardboard or cardboard and allowed to solidify. The artist works the plastic with various tools, scraping, gouging, and texturing it to form an image.


The above process except ink is forced into its grooves and depressions and the rest of the surface is wiped clean.


The ink is confined to the raised surfaces.


A print image made by inking a block of linoleum and pressing it to paper or other surfaces. For multicolored images, a separate block of linoleum is used for each color. In the reduction method, the artist reduces each stage by cutting away more material for each new color to be printed.


A print made from an image drawn on a flat plate of limestone or metal. The drawing on the plate is made with black, greasy lithographic crayons or tusche, a liquid form of the crayons. After the drawing is complete, the plate is wet with water and then inked with a roller. The lithographic ink is greasy and adheres to the plate only where the image has been drawn, not wet, blank areas of the paper. Paper is laid against the plate and run through a press, and a reverse image is printed. The limestone or metal (usually aluminum or zinc) plates used may have coarseness or graininess depending on the artist’s needs. The plates may be cleaned and resurfaced and reused many times once a print edition has been finished. Between the time an image is drawn on the plate and the actual inking of the plate for printing, there are intermediate steps that help ensure that the blank areas do not accept any ink, only the drawn areas.

Offset Lithograph:

A reproduction made by using the same basic idea that governs lithography, but on a mass-production printing press.


A method of reproducing art using an ink jet printer. GicIée reproductions were first produced in the 1990’s.
A picture is first stored in a computer in digital form using either a scanner or a special camera connected to the computer. Modifications can be made, in adjustment of color, value and removal of flaws such as dust specks on the original picture. The French word “Giclée (to spurt or squirt) was adopted to describe the process. Each reproduction, according to size and complexity of the image may take minutes or as much as an hour to print.
More reading and information on the subject:
1. Western Serigraph Institute
2. History of Art by HW Janson (Prentice Hall Inc.)
3. The Artist’s Illustrated Encyclopedia by Phil Metzger (North Light Books)