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Print Glossary Index

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an intaglio technique producing subtle tones areas in stark contrast to lines produced by etching, another intaglio technique. Fine particles of resin adhering to a metal plate act as an acid resist. After the plate is immersed in an acid bath, visually textured areas result instead of lines.


is a shorthand term referencing that all materials utilized in a frame are acid-free or ph balanced to ensure the safety of the artwork being framed.

Artist's proof

is one of a small group of prints set aside from the edition for the artist’s use. Also called “epreuve d’artiste. Prints numbered using Roman numerals can represent the artist’s proofs, which traditionally number approximately 10% of the regular edition

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Bleed print

is a print in which the image extends to one or more of the edges of the paper.

Blind embossing

is embossing without ink, so that the image is raised but not colored.

Bon a Tirer print

translates to (good to pull) the “right to print” proof, designated by the artist as the standard against which every print in the edition is to be judged for its aesthetic and technical merits.

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Cancellation proof

is a print taken from a plate, block, or stone after the image has been effaced at the end of the edition. This is done to ensure that no further prints can be made.


is a material used for building up a printing surface to create tonal areas. It is applied to the printing surface, sealed and then inked for printing.

Carborundum Etching

A granulated mineral, used for printing to achieve a three-dimensional effect.

Catalogue Raisonné

classified and numbered book of prints by a particular artist, listing the titles, dates, editions, states and often photographs of all known prints.

Chine colle

is a technique in printmaking in which an impression is made on a surface at the same time as its opposite side is adhered to a heavier support in the procedure. This permits printing onto such delicate materials as riche paper and linen, allowing the plate to produce finer details in the printed image than would normally be possible.


a lithographic process using several stones or plates—one for each color, printed in register. The result is color prints, to be distinguished from colored prints that have the color hand-applied after printing.


A print made from an image built up with glue and/or other materials.

Color separation

A photomechanical graphic process used by commercial artists which separates the primary colors in a color picture. A printing plate is then made for each of the colors (yellow, cyan (blue) and red (magenta) and one for black.

Color trial proof

is printed before the bon a tirer. A color trial proof differs from the edition in the color of the ink that is used. These impressions result as colors are adjusted and tried or “proofed”. Color trial proofs record variations in color and in the proofing of a complex color print. There may be many of them, each differing from the other. At the discretion of the artist, these proofs may be signed "color trial proof, "CTP" or they may be destroyed.

Conservation glass

is designed to block approximately 98%-99% of ultraviolet light, which is the category of light that tends to cause color shifting or fading.

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Documentation sheet

is a form identifying the technique employed in making a print, as well as the inks, paper, drawing materials and the size of the edition.

Drypoint Intaglio

A technique in which a sharp needle scratches the plate, creating a burn that yields a characteristically soft and velvety line in the final print.

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is a set of identical prints, sometimes numbered and signed that have been pulled by or under the supervision of the artist and are authorized for distribution.

Embossed Print

Intaglio print in which the image is slightly raised, producing a three dimensional effect. Also called inkless intaglio or blind embossing (when printed without ink).

Epreuve d'artiste (E.A.)

French term for Artist's Proof


is a technique in the intaglio family, where the design is bitten into the plate with acid. Ink collects in those etched lines to produce the design on paper. A plate of polished metal, usually copper, is first coated with a substance that resists the acid's action. A design is drawn through the etching ground, allowing the acid to etch those lines to the degree, depending on the time the plate is exposed to the acid. A moistened sheet of paper is laid on the plate before the plate is run through the press.

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Hors de Commerce

Translates to "not for trade". These impressions tend to be identical to the regular editioned prints, but their "numbering" shows as "H.C." and were created to use primarily as salesman samples to demonstrate the appearance of a print titled "XYZ" by Miro, Calder, etc. As the number of H.C.'s were not typically documented, those creating fake prints choose to number the spurious prints "H.C."

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in printmaking, a single print made from a block, plate or stone; or the act of impressing—the contact between the printing surface and the surface on which the print is made.

Impression number

is the number of a print in an edition.


a family of printing processes in which the recessed areas (caused by manual or chemical incising) carry the ink, producing the printed image. Aquatint, engraving, etching, mezzotint and drypoint are all different intaglio techniques.

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Light fastness

is the ability of a dyed paper or an ink to resist changing color when exposed to light.

Light sensitivity

is the ability of a substance or surface to change chemically when exposed to light.

Linoleum Print

Type of relief print in which the image is cut into a piece of linoleum.


was discovered in Germany by Aloys Senefelder in 1798. Printing technique in which the image areas on a lithographic stone or metal plate are chemically treated to accept ink and repel water, while the non-image areas are treated to repel ink and retain water. Because the printing surface remains flat, lithography is sometimes referred to as a planographic technique.

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Maniere Noir Lithography

is a lithographic technique for stone. The surface is covered with a solid layer of tusche and the image is produced by scraping parts of the tusche layer away.


is an intaglio image-making technique in which the plate is worked from dark tones to light. The surface is first roughened with a mezzotint rocker or roulette so that, if inked, it would print a rich, solid black. The areas that are not to print are then burnished and flatted to produce various grays and white.


is a fine art printing process allowing for the production of deep textured prints with very fine surface detail. The artist begins with any solid material or combination of materials on which he/ she incises, impresses, carves, collages or guilds up a matrix. From the matrix, a sequence of forms are then molded, one from another, resulting in a highly sensitive cast copper printing plate in reverse. The plate is inked using all the colors applicable to that print. Moist paper pulp is then laid onto the surface. Both plate and pulp are forced through the press, while transferring the color to the paper. The plate is re-inked each time a print is pulled. Because of the extreme pressure at which these prints are produced, the ink is absorbed into the paper, giving them a fresco-like quality.


technically a print pulled in an edition of one, from a painting made on a sheet of metal or glass. Frequently referred to as a monoprint as well.

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Off-set Printing

Method of printing that involves the transfer of an inked image to an intermediary, such as a rubber cylinder on an offset press, then to paper.

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Photographic offset lithograph

technique for producing an image on a lithographic plate by photographic means. Compare chromolithography.


Technique for the transfer of photographic images to a stencil for screenprinting.


printing from a flat surface. Visually refers to lithography.


is a refined stencil-based technique to create prints or to add color to pre-existing prints, most popular from the late 19th century through the 1930's. Originally the stencils were made of thin sheets of aluminum, copper or zinc. Later celluloid or plastic were used to make the stencils from.


is a large printed placard, often illustrated, posted to advertise or publicize an event such as a performance.


In serigraphy, a photographic technique for producing sharp and dramatic images by making valuable exposures of a continuous tone image.

Presentation proofs

prints outside the edition, generally intended as gifts.

Printer's Proofs

prints outside the edition given to the master printer and the printer and/or collaborator if any.

Printer's chops

is a personal embossed seal of the collaborating printer or principal printer of the edition. When this chop or embossed seal is used, it is usually at the bottom of each impression and will be on each impression in the edition.


is a trial print pulled to test the progress of the image.

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Rag paper

fine paper for printing, made from one hundred percent cotton or linen rags and not containing any wood pulp.

Registration marks

are drawn or engraved on a plate or stone to aid in the registration. They are usually in the form of a small cross or triangle.


Printmaking technique in which the image is printed from a raised surface, usually produced by cutting away non-image areas.

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Studio Impression, an impression maintained by the printmaking atelier

Screenprint, Serigraph, Silkscreen

are interchangeable. They reference printmaking techniques using a fine screen made from silk, acrylic or other fiber through which ink is squeezed. The screen acts as a stencil. Each layer of color is residing on top of the paper substrate and is usually opaque. Sometimes the grid from the screen is visible on the top surface of the ink.


Printing technique that makes use of a squeegee to force ink directly onto a piece of paper or canvas through a stencil containing the image. The process is also called "silk screen".

Steel engraving

During the 1820's steel replaced copper for many types of plate. Steel gives a much harder wearing plate, that could be used for thousands of impressions before signs of wear appeared. Steel also allowed much finer detail to be engraved, which would quickly have worn on a copper plate. However, the task of engraving became much more difficult due to the change in metal, necessitating changes in methods and finer, harder, tools.


A printing process in which an image is cut out of mylar plastic and placed over printing paper. Ink is then stippled through the open parts of the "mask" to produce images in soft, modulated colors.

Stipple engraving

Stipple is a drawing, painting, or engraving method employing dots rather than lines. Stippled works can be produced with any of a variety of tools, including pencils, crayons, pens, and brushes.

Sugar Lift Aquatint

Dating from the 18th century revived in the 20th century, this technique enables the artist to establish dark areas directly by drawing on the copper plate with a solution of black watercolor and sugar, applied by either pen or brush. After a number of chemical treatments, a dark tone on a white background results.

Sugar lift etching

A sugar lift etching is made by painting on the surface of the plate with a brush dipped in a solution made of sugar and water. Unlike soap ground, which resists acid, the sugar solution must be removed, or lifted, before the plate goes in the acid. After the sugar lifts, the printer applies an aquatint, and the acid bites into the portions that were drawn by the artist with the sugar solution.

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Transfer lithograph

involves the same process as lithography, but the design is drawn on special transfer paper and is later transferred mechanically to the stone or plate.

Trial proof

is an impression printed prior to the bon a tirer. It may be in the colors of the edition but printed prior to minor additions or deletions in the image or on a different paper from the edition. A trial proof may also be an impression printed in black from one run, one color image either on the same paper as the edition or on a different paper from the edition.


is a water-miscible black fluid containing the greasy ingredients of a lithographic crayon, used in lithography for drawing the design on the stone or plate with a brush or pen.

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is an image made within a sheet of paper by variations in pulp thickness.

Woodblock print

represents relief printing, the oldest technique for making prints. A block of wood, sawn along the grain is drawn on. The design to be printed is raised so that the cutaway areas are not printed, as they do not receive ink.

Workshop chop

is an embossed seal of the workshop where the impression is printed. This chop or seal generally appears at the bottom of each impression in the edition.

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