Learn the Basics of Letterpress Printing


If you’ve always wanted to learn more about letterpress printing, you’ve come to the right place. The St Bride Library in London has an extensive collection of books on the process. This library features over 50,000 books on everything from printing technique to visual style, typography, and calligraphy. Located off Fleet Street in the heart of London’s old printing and publishing district, the library also hosts regular talks and exhibitions. The library is also a great place to see the work of contemporary letterpress artists.

Modern letterpress printing uses a polymer or photopolymer plate

The letterpress printing process has evolved over the years, but the fundamentals of letterpress printing remain the same. Whether you are using a photopolymer plate or handset type, you must ink the paper. The plate should have a uniform height of.918 inches. Photopolymer plates are thinner than metal type and are glued to a special aluminum base. The aluminum plate raises the plate exactly to the correct height and locks it into the press bed. These plates are recyclable, but cannot be ‘pied’ or’spilled’ into the print.

The letterpress process begins with designing the lettering, or images, on a computer. These are made either black or white. Next, they are transferred onto a photo negative, which is then placed on the photosensitive side of a polymer plate. A special ultraviolet light unit exposes the polymer plate, transferring the ink from the image carrier to the substrate. In most cases, a hand-set type design would take several weeks.

It is a process-oriented art

A craft that combines fine materials and mechanical processes, letterpress printing is popular with people who enjoy the tactile, hands-on aspect of the art. Today, some letterpress printers are exploring the potential of the digital world to combine letterpress with other printing processes. Read on to discover more about the history of letterpress printing. Let us start by exploring its origins, from the 15th century invention of Johannes Gutenberg.

Originally used to spread news, letterpresses are now used to create unique, bespoke text-based artwork. The process of letterpress printing can take weeks, even months, to complete a single project. In the last few years, many letterpress workshops have been held in small printshops and educational facilities on the West Coast. One master printer, Peter Rutledge Koch, has been practicing the craft of fine printing for nearly four decades and has created expensive books for collectors. He studied under book designer Adrian Wilson, absorbing the traditions of California’s 20th century printing culture. He brought a contemporary, outsider sensibility to letterpress printing.

It requires colour separations

In order to print on letterpress, the design file must be prepared for colour separations. These files can be created using Illustrator or InDesign. Separations are created using the Output tab of either application. Select Separations (host-based) and then choose the desired colours for your output. The separation process begins by separating your artwork into its RGB components. Traditional colour separation methods involved photographing your image three times using separate filters for each colour. The resulting images are three separate grayscale images that represent the original RGB components of the image.

There are two methods of colour generation in traditional printing processes. One is by using spot colour, which is produced by subtracting a specific CMYK colour value from the corresponding Pantone Spot Colour. Another is by using a COLOUR palette. When working with a colour palette, it is crucial to use the corresponding TINTS. The TINTS in a COLOR palette are the colour values of the Pantone Spot Colours.

It is time-consuming

The process of letterpress printing requires separate presses and plates for each colour. This method can be expensive and is generally used for small projects such as greeting cards. The process can also add a unique touch to your business card design. While letterpress may not be suitable for larger printing projects, it can be extremely time-consuming to do. The end result can be a beautiful piece of art, complete with an instant keepsake for your guests.

The process of letterpress printing requires a lot of skilled labour. Unlike digital printing, letterpress printing requires special machines and a skilled team. Each colour is created separately on separate plates, so it is best to keep colour range to two or three colours. This will ensure a consistent look and minimise the risk of colour overlaps. Letterpress printing requires separate plates for every colour, which means that colours should not be layered.

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