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What Are the Main Types of Printmaking?

Types of printmaking
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Among the many types of art for kids to learn and enjoy, printmaking is one of the best for introducing art literacy and problem-solving techniques. Creating a print is a hands-on process that can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. And in every case, the work you initially put in will be reflected in the finished design.

As a printmaker myself, I like to do many different types of printmaking and use different mediums. Most often we use paper and crayons, markers or watercolors for our printmaking art lessons.

Printmaking is an important part of the curriculum developed by Golden Road Arts in Hillsboro. Follow along to learn about the most common types of printmaking people use.

What Are the Most Common Types of Printmaking?

Printmaking is essentially the act of transferring an image from a template (called a matrix) to another material such as paper or fabric. To create the matrix, an artist has a range of techniques and materials available to work with. Most types of printmaking usually fall into one of the following four methods.

Relief Printing

Relief printing involves carving a design into a block (that’s usually made from wood, metal or linoleum) with a knife or steel gouges. Ink is applied to the surface and paper or another material is placed onto the inked block, then pressure is applied. The ink from the uncut surface of the block will then be transferred to the paper to replicate your design.

Stencil Printmaking

Among the different types of art kids can create, stencil art is one of the simplest and most adaptable practices. A stencil could be created by cutting out shapes from cardboard to form a pattern. The stencil is then placed over another material, and ink or paint is distributed over the top. Screen printing is a common example of stencil art. Popularized by Andy Warhol, screen printing uses a mesh to evenly transfer ink to areas of material not blocked by the stencil.

Intaglio Printing

Intaglio printing is similar to relief printing, but ink lies beneath the surface of the matrix instead of on top. An artist etches an image into the printing plate, and ink is pushed into the etched grooves. Damp paper is then placed over the plate and pressure is applied. This pressure transfers the ink onto the paper, creating the final image.


Unlike the carved surfaces of relief printing and intaglio, planography uses a flat metal or stone surface. The most common approach is called lithography, which requires the artist to draw directly onto the matrix with an oil-based (greasy) material. When water and ink are applied to the surface, the ink is absorbed only by the greasy area. The materials used in the process won’t be readily available for most kids creating art at home, but it can be useful to learn the theory and processes involved.

Try the Different Types of Printmaking With Our Free Art Lessons

Learn to create many types of art with our free instructional content. At Golden Road Arts, we provide free art lessons for kids, covering the techniques, literacy and history of art. To get started, watch our free art lessons now or buy art from our online art gallery.

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