Friday, June 23, 2017

Early Modern Book Illustration

From The Collation:
Before the invention of lithography in the 1790s, two basic techniques for mechanically reproducing illustrations existed: relief printing and intaglio printing. In relief printing, the lines that carry the ink stand up higher than the surrounding surface. The image is created by cutting away the parts you don’t want, inking the block, then pressing a sheet of paper onto the inked block. It takes relatively little pressure to transfer the ink to the paper, so relief prints are made using a common press, the same press used for the text of a book. 

Relief blocks and moveable type use the same press, so they can be printed at the same time, making it simple to include image and text on the same page. Most early modern relief prints are woodcuts, though metal cuts were also made. In intaglio printing, the lines that carry the ink are cut into the surrounding surface. 1 Engraved lines are cut into the metal plate by a sharp tool. Etched lines are cut into the plate by acid eating away at metal exposed by scratching through a protective layer of varnish. The image is created by incising lines on a metal plate, forcing ink into the incised lines, wiping the surrounding surface clean, then pressing a dampened sheet of paper onto the plate under such high pressure that the paper is squeezed into the incised lines, where it picks up the ink. Because of the enormous pressure needed, intaglio plates have to be printed on a rolling press. In other words, if you see an intaglio print on the same page as the letterpress text of a book, that page has gone through two printing presses: a common press for the text (with a gap left where the illustration should go), then a rolling press for the image. (Read more.)

No comments: