The Lithography is a printing technique and its name is derived from the Greek lithos meaning stone and the word graph hails from the Latin meaning drawing. This process allows the artist who performs it to have a large number of different possibilities and resources to work with different elements at the same time, facilitating their creation and giving them the opportunity to correct possible errors.

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Silkscreen , woodcut

What is lithography?

The lithography is a printing technique that is based on the creation of a desired image through a limestone or by a plate of metal with which one can create different kinds of creative designs and in some cases improvised.

  • What does it consist of
  • Lithography Features
  • History
  • What is lithography for?
  • How to do a lithograph
  • Importance

What does it consist of

Lithography is a technique that allows the artist who practices it to use a series of different resources and elements to carry it out and also gives it the great possibility of improvising at the time of creation, since designs can be easily corrected in the event of be necessary.

The process consists of making a drawing on a lithographic stone , this stone must be properly polished beforehand and this process is carried out with materials such as pencils and inks. After the drawing has been captured, the artist places a solution made with nitric acid and gum arabic , substances that work as a type of adhesive, fixing the drawing to the greasy areas of the stone.

Subsequently, the stone must be wet and at that time, the drawings that have greasy consistency inks, immediately repel water , while the places where there is no grease, retain the paint. When the stone is still wet, it is inked using a roller so that the ink can better adhere to the drawing.

Lithography Features

Among its main characteristics we mention the following:

  • Lithography works thanks to the chemical principle that occurs when you try to mix water with oil or fat .
  • It does not use any type of corrosive material or sharp tools.
  • It is considered by many as a type of print .
  • The stone used during the procedure must have an adequate porosity to be able to adequately absorb the water, in addition, it must also be of a grainy consistency so that it can absorb fat at the same time.
  • The measurement of the thickness that the stone used must have cannot be greater than one centimeter, otherwise it could not withstand the great pressure exerted by the press.
  • Another type of material that can be used to perform lithography is zinc plate , which are easier to acquire and store.


Lithography is a process that has its roots in the year 1796 thanks to Alois Senefelder , who, in search of a simpler and cheaper printing method for his scores and for the scripts of different plays, devised the use of this technique. of printing, which he called first with the name of chemical imprint . It was widely used in the early nineteenth century and was used by great artists such as Goya and Picasso , who were in charge of giving the technique the importance and artistic quality of the process.

By the end of the 19th century, lithography began to use color, giving way to a type of printing known as poster design , a process that came to give a complete turn to the advertising of the time, in fact, it was widely used to spread information in the press and to capture drawings in books .

What is lithography for?

This technique is mainly used by artists and serves to provide them with a large number of different possibilities to create different works. It can also be used to print drawings , news bulletins or for commercial propaganda or modern art pieces.

How to do a lithograph

The steps to follow to make a lithograph are explained in the following points:

1. Trace the design

The layout of the design must be done on the stone piece, which must be porous but smooth, generally limestone . After tracing the drawing you want to make, proceed with a greasy pencil or a brush moistened with paint of greasy consistency to make the strokes. A point of great importance in this step is that the drawing must be made in an inverted way , so that, when it is transferred to the paper, it is in the correct direction.

2. Moisten the iron

Then, after completing the drawing, the plate must be properly soaked using water, in this way, the places where the fat was placed will not be penetrated by water.

3. Inking of the plate

For this step, it is necessary to use an ink that has a greasy base and with it, the roller is inked . When it is completely filled with ink uniformly, it is passed on the stone plate in the place where the drawing was located. It must be ensured that all parts are correctly filled with ink. The surface by itself will repel the ink where there are no strokes and where the design is.

4. Placing the paper

This is the last step and it is recommended to use a paper that has a porous consistency . The paper should be placed on the plate and then pressure is applied with a press . This step can also be done using a roller and running it over the plate and paper. Subsequently, the paper must be removed and the design will be ready.

It is important to emphasize that if the drawing is to have different colors, the different areas of the design must be inked with the color that is preferred, avoiding the mixing of the paints, which will require greater precision.


Since the lithographic process had its beginnings, it has been important for people since it has functioned as a means of communication that included images and different types of visual elements. Today, lithography continues to be of equal importance and thanks to advancement and innovation , this type of printing is done with higher quality and efficiency. It is a faster process through which you can print the designs , especially the business that used for advertising purposes.

Other uses that make it important is the printing of packaging so that customers have a good image of the products offered. The billboards in General , have also benefited through the process.


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