The Americas Collection Graphics

4 Types of Printmaking You Should Know

Nearly 53% of art collections throughout the world have over 500 works of art. However, when it comes to the world of art, there are various types of printmaking and it’s important to understand each type in order to recognize the value they hold. To the untrained eye, these images may seem identical, however, they are unique in their individual formats.


The term lithograph, first used in English in 1825, stems from the Greek terms lithos and graphos. These words translate to stone and writing in English.

When creating a lithograph, the printer produces an image on a flat area with oil or grease. The next step is covering the area in ink. During this process, the ink only sticks to the oil or grease (not the rest of the surface). The final step is pressing paper onto the surface which then absorbs the ink.

Intaglio Printmaking

Intaglio printmaking involves printing an image from a recessed design engraved or etched into a plate. The ink is below the surface of the plate and is transferred to the paper utilizing a heavy intaglio press. Blankets are often utilized to soften and spread the pressure in order to assist the process of pushing the dampened paper into the areas of the upturned plate.

Relief Printmaking

A relief print is printed from a raised design on the surface. The plate is created through splicing the areas of the surface that the artist does not want in the design and rolling ink onto the top of it. The ink lies on top of the block and is moved to paper under light pressure.


Serigraph is derived from the Latin term for silk connected with a Greek word graphein, meaning to write or draw.

Serigraph art prints utilize the silkscreen process to transfer images onto paper, fabric, or other surfaces.

Artists create serigraph art prints by forcing ink through silk-screens. Each screen is extended firmly and coated with a photo-sensitive emulsion. The adhesive film can also be used to create a mask.

Serigraph art prints are considered limited edition prints as they are signed and numbered by the artist. This guarantees its originality and individuality.

Limited edition Print

A limited edition print is a series of uniform prints restricted to a one-time printing with a certain number of pieces. The artist chooses the size of the edition, signing and numbering each limited print.

You may ask yourself, “are limited editions worth buying?”

People buy limited edition art prints because they are scarce and unique pieces placing more value on the artwork.


There are various forms of printmaking, and it is important to understand each form. From lithograph to intaglio to relief to serigraph, each artist has their own way of expressing their creativity. Likewise, each buyer has their preference of what kind of style they prefer. When looking for a limited edition, serigraph print generally guarantees high value.