Fine Printmaking Terms

35mm Film
Once the standard for both motion pictures and film photography, this light sensitive film comes in roles has a diagonal measurement of 35mm. It contains sprocket holes on the sides to allow the advancement of the strip from one frame to another with precision.

Archival
Material such as paper or ink of suitable quality to be used in archives and long-term storage.

Aquatint
Aquatint is an intaglio printmaking technique that uses a copper or zinc plate in which the image is etched. The ink plate is passed through a printing press together with a sheet of paper, resulting in a transfer of the ink to the paper. This can be repeated a number of times depending on the particular needs of the piece, and is generally used to create shading and density. Traditional aquatint uses rosen that is first dusted, then baked onto the surface of the plate to cause a resist when etched, resulting in tiny pits.

Boken

Carbon Print

Collector

Collection

Copperplate Photogravure

Deckel

Float Mount

Edo Period

Etching

Gampi

Giclee (see Pigment Print)

Intaglio Press

Japanese Woodblock

Kozo

Large Format Film

Limited Edition

Medium Format Film

Open Edition
An edition of prints not limited to a set number. Open edition prints may or may not be signed or numbered.

Plate Tone

Photogravure (Photo Gravure)
Photogravure is an intaglio printmaking or photo-mechanical process whereby a copper plate … The unique tonal range comes from photogravure’s variable depth of etch, that is, the shadows are etched many times deeper than the highlights.

Sometimes loosely referred to as photo etching, the photogravure process creates a type of intaglio print. Using this method, a metal plate gets coated with photosensitive medium. This light-sensitive coating is prepared to first recieve ink by treating it with an aquatint, according to the platemaking method being used. The prepared plate is then exposed to a film positive under industrial ultra-violet light, before being etched. This type of intaglio print can produce the continuous tones and sharp details associated with photographs. Photogravure has historically been among the most difficult and expensive traditional printmaking processes to master. The process was brought to popularity in the early 1900’s, primarily thanks to the work of photographer and anthropologist Edward S. Curtis.

Photopolymer Gravure
See Polymer Photogravure

Pigment Print
A modern inkjet print using ink formulated with pigments instead of dyes. Such prints also have coatings that allow the inks to be absorbed more easily.

Platinum/Palladium Print

Plate Mark

Polymer Photogravure
Polymer Photogravure is a term heard coined by David Hoptman around 2003 to describe the processing of polymer plates with the goal of getting more continuous tone from them, akin to traditional photogravure in copper. Polymer photogravure is distinct from the more generic term “photo etching”, where the intent is more to achieve anything recognizable as a photograph, rather than creating one with intentional elegance requiring technical skill.

Portfolio
A hard, flat container for storing and carrying fine artwork. A formal artist’s portfolio will often contain highlights of their work.

Proof
A proof is a print that is used to evaluate and then refine the printmaking workflow and parameters prior to editioning.

Rice Paper
An outdated marketing term used to describe washi. While often used in making paste, rice is not generally used in making paper. See Washi.

Silver Gelatin Print
A printing process popularized by Eastman Kodak with their introduction of the Brownie Camera in the early 1900s. This cheaper way to print soon overtook photogravure’s market dominance.

Soft Focus Lens
A type of lens and aesthetic of photography popular in the Victorian era and later that had qualities resulting from deliberately introduced spherical aberrations in the lens.

Washi
Any kind of thin, asian paper used for the purpose of printmaking. Types of paper considered washi include gampi and kozo.