Did you know?  Check our Rare Books Page

Printmaking Processes: Relief

By Joachim Koch. Mar 29, 2010. 1:00 AM.

Topics: Book Making, Learn About Books

Relief is an image created by a printmaking process, such as woodcut, where the areas of the matrix (plate or block) that are to show printed black (typically) are on the original surface; the parts of the matrix that are to be blank (white) having been cut away, or otherwise removed. Printing the image is therefore a relatively simple matter of inking the face of the matrix and bringing it in firm contact with the paper; a printing-press may not be needed as the back of the paper can be rubbed or pressed by hand with a simple tool.

This contrasts with an intaglio print, such as an engraving or etching (although there can also be relief etching), where the areas to print black are below the original surface of the matrix, and the original surface of the matrix will print blank. To print these the whole matrix is inked, and the ink then wiped away from the surface, so that it remains only in the lines (classically) that the artist has made below the surface of the matrix. Much greater pressure is then needed to force the paper into the channels containing the ink, and a high-pressure press will normally be required.

Joachim Koch
Book buyer. Bookseller. Factotum Generalis. Believes in not attempting to be the smartest person in room and enjoys growing success.


comments powered by Disqus


  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.

About this blog

How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

Get blog notifications per email:

Download the James Bond Dossier

Recent Posts

Book Glossary
Get your free Guide to Book Care

Blog Archive

> see older posts
A Guide to Historic Libraries Part I