Relief printing includes woodblock/woodcut, linocut, collagraph and wood engraving techniques. While the carved area of an etching becomes the printed image, the area left un-carved on a woodblock or linoleum block becomes the relief print.
A woodcut, also know as a woodcut is the oldest known printing technique, dating as far back as the Han Dynasty. By the 5th century, the Chinese used woodblocks to print silk textiles and paper scrolls. In the 13th century, woodcut was introduced in Europe, where it was soon used to for illustrations and old master prints.
Woodblock printing is often associated with Japan’s ukiyo-e genre, which dated from the 17th to the 19th century. These artists created intricate and colorful designs using multiple printing blocks. These prints were widely distributed and greatly influenced 19th century artists in Europe.
Woodcuts can be printed with both water-based inks and oil-based inks. The Chinese and Japanese prints are traditionally painted with inks while many European printers, such as the German Expressionists, used oil-based ink.
Woodcut prints can be extremely valuable. The ukiyo-e prints remain popular for collectors as well as antique Chinese prints. Albrecht Dürer is regarded as Europe’s finest old master to use the medium, though the German Expressionists greatly revitalized the technique in the early 1900s.
Artists from countries across the globe have made woodcut prints. Some of the most notable woodblock prints across the spectrum of style and era include: Hiroshige, Hokusai, Edvard Munch, Salvador Dali, Albrecht Durer, Jose Guadalupe Posada and Aubrey Beardsley and Frans Masareel.