Printmaking techniques are generally divided into the following basic categories:

  • Relief, where ink is applied to the original surface of the matrix. Relief techniques include: woodcut or woodblock as the Asian forms are usually known, wood engraving,linocut and metalcut;
  • Intaglio, where ink is applied beneath the original surface of the matrix. Intaglio techniques include: engraving, etching,mezzotint, aquatint,drypoint, and photogravure;
  • Planographic, where the matrix retains its original surface, but is specially prepared and/or inked to allow for the transfer of the image. Planographic techniques include: lithography, monotyping, and digital techniques;
  • Stencil, where ink or paint is pressed through a prepared screen, including: screenprinting and pochoir

(Crying eye)

Other types of printmaking techniques outside these groups include collagraphy, viscosity printing, and foil imaging. Collagraphy is a printmaking technique in which textured material is adhered to the printing matrix. This texture is transferred to the paper during the printing process. Contemporary printmaking may include digital printing, photographic mediums, or a combination of digital, photographic, and traditional processes.

Many of these techniques can also be combined, especially within the same family. For example Rembrandt's prints are usually referred to as "etchings" for convenience, but very often include work in engraving and drypoint as well, and sometimes have no etching at all.