How To Tell An Etching From A Lithograph?

How To Tell An Etching From A Lithograph?

Etching and lithography have various methods of printmaking. They produce various kinds of works. However, there are particular contrasts among etching and lithograph.

"Lithograph" is gotten from two old Greek words: "lithos" signifying "stones," and "graphien" signifying "to compose." 

What is a lithograph?


Printmakers use a greasy substance, like specialist ink or crayon, to create an image on a flat surface, typically a stone or metal plate, for a lithograph.

Subsequently, the surface is chemically treated to permanently set the picture. A lithograph is a type of print made by transferring an image from a smooth, flat surface onto paper using ink.

What is a lithograph print?

When an original work of art is printed using the lithographic process, the resulting print is known as a lithograph print.

In order to print several copies of an image, first a copy of the original must be made onto a different surface (usually a lithographic stone or plate).

Lithograph Prints

Prints, in any case, are normally mass-created and are commonly done by mechanical lithograph printers. 

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How is a lithograph created?

To make a lithograph, unique centerpieces are printed and repeated, frequently utilizing level stones or metal plates.

The craftsman makes the lithograph by drawing a picture onto the printing component utilizing materials like litho colored pencils or concentrated oily pencils.

At the point when the craftsman is happy with the drawing on the stone, the surface is then treated with a synthetic engraving. The treatment bonds the oily attracting materials to the surface. With it will repulse the lithographic ink, while the zones dry up. Water is then cleaned onto the unpainted regions to help keep the ink from spreading.

When the picture is inked, paper is laid over the stone and it is secured with a tympan, a layer of pressing that is ordinarily set between the plate and paper to help balance the weight. Next, these materials go through the scrubber bar of the litho press. 

A definition of a lithograph

The process of creating the print, as well as the print itself, is known as lithography. It's a technique for making many copies of an original work of art from a single master.

How to identify a lithograph?

You can tell if something is a lithograph by looking for these telltale signs:

  • Try to find something that doesn't have any bumps or indentations and is instead completely flat.
  • Be aware of any indentation or "plate mark" surrounding the image, which would suggest it was printed from a different plate.
  • Under a microscope, you should be able to make out a series of tiny dots or patterns that make up the print; this is the "lithographic grain." Texture like this is common in lithographs.
  • Ensure there is a signature or edition number written in pencil or ink. Lithographs are usually restricted in quantity and the artist will sign and number each print.

How to tell if an etching is original?

The uniqueness of an etching can be hard to determine, however here are some things to think about:

Printing on archival or handmade paper is common for authentic etchings. Check for these features.

When the ink was pressed into the paper for an original etching, the plate would leave a tiny imprint or indentation.

Look for a serial number or an artist's autograph to indicate a limited run. Each edition of an original etching is usually numbered and signed by the artist in pencil.

Etching Vs Lithography


Etching uses strong acid or mordant to cut into the parts of a metal surface to create a design in the metal. 


Lithography Characteristics 

Lithography is characterized as a style of print making that utilizes the immiscibility of oil and water. 

Both etching and lithography can be utilized in the creation of a print. As they both translate designs or pictures, from one source to the next.

How To Make An Etching

Etching, as indicated by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is "the specialty of delivering pictures or structures by printing from a scratched metal plate." 

Originally the craftsman drew a picture into a wax ground with an etching needle. The immaculate wax ground shielded the metal from the corrosive showers, and the unprotected surface was dissolved by the corrosive.

Etching is frequently mistaken for lithograph, which requires the craftsman to cut into the material utilizing a sharp instrument. Etching incorporates the demonstration of printing.

When a metal plate has been carved, the wax ground is evacuated and its surface is shrouded in ink. The unetched surfaces are cleaned off and an impression is imprinted onto a level surface, generally paper.

All etchings are a type of print, however not all prints are a type of etching, as they incorporate works finished with the utilization of woodcuts, lithograph, and printing presses. 

What Is Etching?

The etching strategy for printmaking can be followed back to the 1600s when craftsmen, for example, Rembrandt utilized the technique.

While there's an assortment of approaches to make a picture on a plate in the etching procedure, the most widely recognized process to etch, is the utilization of the sharp etching needle (Burin) to draw lines into a level copper plate through a covering of dark wax or corrosive safe varnish. 

The period of time the corrosive stays in contact with the metal decides the profundity of the "chomp"; the darker the print will be.

Who Invented Lithography?

Alois Senefelder

Alois Senefelder

The creation of lithography goes back to the eighteenth century when a little-known Bavarian writer in Germany named Alois Senefelder discovered that he could copy his contents by keeping them in touch with pieces of limestone and oily colored pencils.

Lithography before long turned into a mainstream practice utilized by writers, artists, and craftsmen.

The development of the lithographic plates continuous to grow today, there exists an assortment of kinds of lithography.

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Types Of Lithographs

1. Original lithographs on stone

The oldest and most powerful lithography process is the original stone lithograph. When most people think of a conventional lithograph, they think of this technique.

Hand-drawn on limestone or marble, original stone lithographs are also known as hand-pulled lithographs. Various stones must be used to include more than one color. The designer will mark and number each print after it has been hand-printed.

Each addition of unique stone lithographs is meticulously documented, and any impressions that aren't perfect are discarded.

This style of lithograph is one of a kind since it is created by an artist drawing directly on a stone or other comparable material. These lithographs are usually more valuable due to their exceptional texture and the fact that they are usually printed in smaller quantities.

2. Lithograph plates from the original plates

The artist hand-draws the image that will be replicated on aluminum plates in an original plate lithograph.

These plates are less expensive and easier to transport than the stones used in original stone lithography, making them a preferred substitute to stone lithography for original printing.

3. Reproductions in lithography

Lithographic reproductions can be any sort of artwork in any medium. The artist will photograph the original piece to generate a lithographic reproduction.

The photograph is then used to create a color separation, which is then transferred to photosensitive lithographic plates. Posters are the common name for these reproductions.

4. Lithographs on mylar plates

An artist draws on a mylar sheet, which is akin to a polyester film or plastic sheet, to create a mylar plate lithograph.

The image is copied onto a photosensitive lithographic plate and reproduced like an actual plate lithograph once the drawing is finished.

5. Printing on offset

Any type of lithograph generated on an offset press is known as an offset print. Offset lithography uses an oil-and-water repulsion technique similar to original hand lithography; however, using an offset press, the ink is applied first to a rubber blanket and then straight to stone or paper.

Although the color of offset lithographs typically differs from the original, this technique has grown in popularity because to its price, quality, and speed of production. Because these items aren't created like fine art lithography, they're more cheap.

While recognizing and acquiring lithographs may appear difficult, collectors who understand the history of these works and the various types of lithographs accessible will know what to seek for.

Do your homework before going to an auction or a gallery to better find out the type of print you'd like to add to your collection.

If you're looking to buy lithographs, you should treat them with respect because of their distinct qualities, rather than considering them as just replicas of paintings or other works of art.

Engraving vs. lithograph

When it comes to printmaking, engraving, and lithography are two options, but they are distinct in both procedure and aesthetic.

The process of engraving involves employing sharp instruments to incise or carve an image onto a metal plate. When pressure is exerted, ink from the plate is forced onto the paper. Prints made this way often have sharp edges and a distinctive etched feel.

Using a printing press, lithography involves transferring an image drawn on a flat surface with oily materials. The grainy texture of lithographs is characteristic, and they often have a painterly appearance as well.

Difference between etching and engraving?

While both etching and engraving are types of intaglio printing, the two processes result in very different final prints.

Lines and textures can be etched into an acid-resistant metal plate using acid or chemicals in the process of etching. Ink is applied to the plate and then wiped off, leaving it only on the etched areas. By pressing paper onto the plate, an image can be transferred.

As was previously noted, engraving is accomplished by incising lines into a metal plate using sharp tools. After the plate has been inked, the image is transferred to paper by applying pressure to the plate.

What is the difference between a lithograph and a print?

As a general phrase, "print" can refer to a variety of printmaking processes, lithography included. One sort of print made with the lithographic process is called a lithograph.

While it's true that every print is technically a lithograph, that's not always the case. Etching is just one of many printing processes available.


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