ArtsAlive.ca – Persuading Presence

Graphic Processes

A graphic process is a way of printing a design or text, often in multiple copies. Here are some examples of graphic processes and terms mentioned throughout ArtsAlive.ca – Persuading Presence.

Silkscreen

image:Silkscreen process. Source: obin.org foto archive / wikipedia.org, Wikimedia Commons
Silkscreen process. Source: obin.org foto archive / wikipedia.org, Wikimedia Commons

Also known as screen-printing or serigraphy, this technique uses a stencil to create sharp-edged images for multiple prints.

The stencil is created on a screen that itself is created from a porous fabric (like silk, polyester or nylon) held taut by a frame made of metal or wood. The designer creates the stencil on the screen by treating the fabric with an emulsion to block areas of a design that are not to be printed. Ink is then pushed through the screen using a fill bar (like a squeegee) and the ink penetrates the screen in the unblocked areas (the stencil).

The silkscreen process is relatively inexpensive and is used extensively for posters, tee-shirts and works of art. There are many different methods for silkscreening, but the basic principle is always the same.

Traditional Offset Press

The traditional offset printing technique dominated the printing scene up until the late Twentieth Century when digital technology emerged as a key player. The traditional offset system involves transferring (offsetting) an inked image or design on a printing plate* to a rubber blanket which is then applied to the surface that will be printed.

image:Offset Printing Press. Source: Sven Teschke, Büdingen / wikipedia.org, Wikimedia Commons
Offset Printing Press. Source: Sven Teschke, Büdingen / wikipedia.org, Wikimedia Commons

One plate is prepared for each colour, using one or all of the following four colours: cyan, magenta, yellow and black out of which all colours can be reproduced.

* The printing plate can be metal, plastic or another material, and it carries the design to be printed. The design gets transferred to the plate photochemically, or by techniques like engraving, laser-engraving or etching.

Traditional offset printing is by no means obsolete, and remains the preferred process when large numbers of prints are needed. It offers consistency of high-quality image, and becomes less expensive as more prints are made, since the preparation of the plates is the most expensive part of the process.

Digital Offset Printing Press

This technology, which has existed since 1993, makes it possible to complete full-colour, offset printing directly from computer files. The finished product looks like traditional offset printing. Digital presses are more cost-effective than traditional offset when short runs (small numbers of prints) are required. Digital printing allows quick turn-around time and last-minute edits, since the changes can be made directly on a computer file.

image:Light table Source: © Danielle Meder /  http://finalfashion.ca
Light table Source: © Danielle Meder / http://finalfashion.ca

Graphic Terms

Galleys of type – prepared text supplied by a typesetter from which the graphic designer would cut and paste while preparing the layout for a design to be printed.

Typesetting – involves the presentation of text in graphic form on paper or some other medium. Typesetting composes glyphs (any raised or incised figure that represents a letter or word) into body text, headings, etc. to make up a page image, later to be transferred or printed onto paper or another medium.

Light table – a viewing device graphic artists use to review photographic film or artwork. A light table provides consistent and even illumination of what is placed on top of its translucent cover and fluorescent interior light.