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Printmaking Techniques


Waterless Lithography was pioneered by Nik Semenoff, the process enables the artist to create a successful lithographic image very quickly

The procedure uses recycled aluminium offset plates and a silicone mixture to repel ink instead of the water used in stone lithography. The plates are printed on an etching press.

​The process is far less toxic to the printmaker than traditional lithography. The waterless images pictured here were created using various media including gouache, omnichrom, sharpie pens and multiple plates.

“With a little experience and thought you can make waterless lithography quite low toxic and get amazing results: tonal range, mark, immediacy, good predictability. The plates could hardly be simpler to create yet the process allows a broad range of image and mark making approaches. And it holds the alchemic magic of stone litho. It is a wonderful process. Plus, this is an area about to see some real progress towards even less toxicity”. Quoted from:  Don Messec

Nik Semenoff, the inventor of the technique said he wanted to create “A process that would eliminate some or all of the toxic materials now used by printmakers. Materials should also be easily available and not too expensive. Anything that would simplify the processing of plates and produce long running clean images from direct hand drawn plates could become an important addition to the artist’s lithographic process”

Top 3 left, Prints by Annie Day

Lower 4 left,  Owl Prints by Robin Ezra

Slideshow below: Annie Day, Robin Ezra, June Lord, 

Evelyne Siegrist, Chris Pullin, Jim Josephsen, Helen Cameron

Waterless Lithography​

​Aluminium Etching

​A solution of copper sulphate and salt in water can be used to etch Aluminium.

​It is a very low toxic method of creating a plate, we use Nik Semenoff's formula. The action of the copper particles settling on the surface of the plate results in rich aquatints.

​Various “safer” grounds and stopouts are used to create an image with amazingly satisfying results.

Drypoint is an intaglio technique where lines are scratched directly into the plate, without the use of an etchant. The burr thrown up by the needle gives the print a velvety appearance.​

​The word “etching” also refers to the print pulled from the plate.​

Click here for safe ground & stopout article​​

Students Etchings "Flowers' Michelle Kirby   "Fallen Angel"  Robyn Arrowsmith   " Gumleaves" Marian Packer                  

Slide show at left images by Jim Josephsen,  Diana Dean,  Jan Melville, Helen Cameron, Mary Louise Wyatt, Amber Hall, Evelyne Siegrist, Robin Ezra & Annie Day

                             "Black Ophelia"  Jan Melville

​Photopolymer Intaglio

​The plate has a thin steel backing with a surface coating of light sensitive photopolymer which is soluble in water.

Ultra Violet light hardens the areas not blocked out by the artwork and these unexposed areas wash out with tap water to reveal the etched surface.

The plate is particularly durable and it is possible to make large editions from a photopolymer plate.The plate can be used for relief and intaglio printmaking.

​Photopolymer plates are sometimes called sun plates or solar plates.

Read: inking photopolymer article

Read: Modifying Photopolymer Plates article


Left slide show Annie Day, Robin Ezra

​Images below Robin Ezra

Pochoir is the French term for stencil. In the Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras the colour application process of the stencil was rejuvenated by the French, and used to great effect when combined  with key images made by lithography, woodcut or etching, turning a decorative technique into fine art.

In Australia the artist Margaret Preston used the stencil technique to create her stunning landscape and flower images.​​

Click here to read Pochoir article


Left: Mim Merrick landscape

Centre top: Cary James

Below Left and Right: Annie Day

Stencil - Pochoir


​Collagraphs are prints of collaged materials. A collagraph plate, often cardboard, can be built up by gluing various media to the board, drawing into gesso, stripping back layers or incising. A variety of low relief textural materials that will hold ink can be glued or painted onto the base plate.


A collagraph plate becomes a very expressive method of developing a sensitive and textured print and is inked and printed in relief or intaglio on an etching press.

The plates do tend to flatten out after a few prints but give some interesting textural results


Annie Day top and lower left

Robin Ezra  lower centre and right

Monotype & Monoprint

Monotype is the most painterly technique of all the printmaking methods. When creating monotypes the artist works on a clean, un-etched plate of perspex, acrylic, metal etc. Although images can be similar, no two are alike. The translucency of the ink and spontaneity of the method makes for interesting painterly prints. Ink can be added to the plate with rollers & brushes or taken away – the subtractive method – using a cloth, eraser, stick, brushes or any other implement to obtain the final image.

The ink is applied similarly in a monoprint but on an intaglio plate and the image is visible in all the prints from this plate no matter how it is inked. A monoprint is printed as a variable edition.

Click here: Monotype/Monoprint article

Teaching resource: Monotype/monoprint notes


Top Left Robin Ezra

Lower left "Muse" Jan Melville

Lower Right "Grotesque" Robin Ezra


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