Lithography is a procedure by which a drawing is made on a stone, or a metal plate. Although it was very popular at certain times on an artistic level, it has been used for other types of uses.

It was in 1796 that Alois Senefelder, playwright and writer, invented lithography. His goal was to achieve a low-cost printing procedure for musical scores and plays, and that led to the creation of lithography. Although it is related as an art-oriented creation system, in its beginnings it had this purpose as a priority.

Later, lithography began to be used as an artistic method in which an image was drawn with materials such as oil, or fat, on the surface of a stone with a smooth and level surface.

After the drawing was made, the stone was treated with different materials such as acid and gum arabic. The stone was moistened and an oil ink was applied, water was applied to repel these materials and only the original drawing remained. After this phase, it would be transferred to a blank sheet of paper and could be printed after this process.

Over the years the technique was improved and the processes shortened, achieving that the image itself could be printed from that plate or base, or transferred to a flexible sheet to take it to print and publish it.

Types of lithographs

These are the main ones:

  • Stone lithographs: These are the original and initial lithographs in which the authors made the drawings on stones by hand.
  • Plate lithographs: In this case the drawing is made on metal plates and they represent an alternative to the previous ones.
  • Reproductions: Lithographic reproductions are made after taking a photograph of the original work. There is a separation of the colors that make up this work, and these data are transferred to photosensitive lithographic plates. The result is the reproduction of that work on posters.
  • Offset printing: The offset press is used to carry out the process. The difference from manual lithography is that here the ink is first transferred to a rubber blanket and then applied directly to a stone or paper. Sometimes the color differs somewhat from the original, but it is a widely used technique because it is affordable and has a high production speed, which means that costs are reduced, and quality is also preserved.

This technique allows a lot of options during the creative process, you can use different colors, and even superimpose shapes, and all this in a low cost and very affordable process.

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