The basic principle of lithography is defined by a very well-known and simple chemical fact: fatty or oily substances and water repel each other. When this principle is clear in your head, you can easily go deeper into the process without getting lost. Here is what the lithography technique consists of…
What is lithography?
The word lithography comes from the Greek language and is a combination of two words: “lithos”, which means stone, and “graphein”, which means writing. This means that the key material for this process is stone. The lithographic process was created in 1796. This method has been widely used (and still is) in the art world, as it allows for many copies of hand-drawn illustrations to be made, and there are even colour types. Over the centuries, many artists have produced beautiful lithographs, which have become works of art today.
How do you make a lithograph?
To begin with, you need a stone. The reason of using stone is quite simple; it is very resistant to thousands of prints and you can reuse it without limits. You should also know that the stone used for a lithograph is particularly available in Bavaria… That’s where the method was first invented. The artist can use his/her usual tools, pencil or brush. This is the great advantage of lithography and the main difference to engraving. Indeed, to make, for example, an engraving on wood, it is necessary to have several tools at your disposal. Nowadays, a printing craftsman can easily ink the stone with lithographic ink and a roller.
Is colour lithography a real challenge?
Most of the printed lithographs have only one colour. This is because printing on a stone is done with black ink. If you want other colours on your print, you have to make a stone for each colour. This makes the task more complex. But that’s not all; if each colour is printed on top of another, it will blend in. That’s why making a print with several colours requires a lot of design work and several attempts. However, artists can work with colourists who are very good at this if they want to succeed.