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  • Writer's pictureMaking To Make Happy

5 Printmaking Techniques To Try at Home | Printmaking without a Press

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

Do you have an interest in having a go at printmaking, but are perhaps trying to figure out which technique to try?…. I remember being in this predicament and so I am hopeful that this blog can help you out and give you some ideas for things to try…

There are lots of different forms of printmaking, and while some require access to specific tools in a print studio or need a printing press, there are still plenty of others which you can try at home. Here are five “at home friendly” types of printmaking that you can jump into…

Also, just to note: when I talk about specialist tools for these techniques, I’m leaving out mentioning Printing Inks and Specialist Printing Papers. This is because, although you can absolutely level up your prints for all of these techniques by using inks and papers which are intended for them, as a first-time experimenter it’s ok to simply have a go with the paper and paints you may already have. You can always invest in more focussed materials and tools later, if you like the process.


If you’ve seen some of my YouTube videos (or my Skillshare classes) you’ll have been expecting me to include this one. Collagraph is a texture-lover’s dream of a technique.

So what is it?

Printmaking Type: Relief

Collagraph is, essentially, about creating a collage and then taking a print from that collage. The design can be as simple or as complex as you like - but collagraphs will always create prints which are filled with interesting texture.

The Up-sides:

  • Very few specialist materials are needed for Collagraph. You can create a whole collage design using only cardboard and glue if you like, but you can also try out adding things like wool, tin foil and sandpaper too.

  • The process can therefore act as a form of recycling - you can use up old bits of cardboard or packaging, and get creative with whatever else you have lying around the house.

The Down-sides:

  • Over on the flip side, bear in mind Collagraph can be a slow process during the design-building stage, depending on how intricate you get or which materials you decide to use. Certain materials will need to be “sealed” on your design before you can print from them, with something like shellac or varnish - which adds on some drying time - although, there is a method which can cut out the sealing step ( check out this blog to see it in action).

  • Collagraph plate designs also have a shorter lifespan than some other relief methods. If unsealed the plates may deliver only a few good prints. If sealed, they will last a lot longer, but will still deteriorate with time.


Let’s get right to the (dry)point! This is one of my favourite types of printmaking, and if you love drawing then this may be a good one for you to try.

So what is it?

Printmaking Type: Intaglio

Drypoint is exactly what it sounds like - you have a dry point (or an etching needle), and you scratch a design into a piece of plastic or metal. You then fill the scratches you’ve made with ink, and these are what create a print when pressed against the paper.

The Up-sides:

  • The only specialist tool involved in at-home-drypoint is an etching needle…but if this is not available, you can experiment with whatever pointy tools you can find at home (like the point of a compass, a pointed nail file or a metal skewer).

  • The plastic you scratch your design into can be bought, but it can also be cut from an old cleaned food container.

  • While you can take your time with your design, you can also be very free with it if you like, and the results you can achieve have a unique line quality that is easy to get obsessed by. You can print from your design lot’s of times too, because plastic is hard wearing.

The Down-sides:

  • Depending on the type of plastic you are using, and the pointy tool you are drawing with, you may create some screechy type noises as you scratch. These may, or may not, bug you - if they do, pop some music on while you work to distract your ear!

  • Also, different plastics deliver different end results - as some you can scratch deeper into than others. So, if you try one that doesn’t seem to work as well, don’t get disheartened.


This is one of the most popular methods of at-home-printmaking and it is the Queen of Clean Lines!

So what is it?

Printmaking Type: Relief

Linocut uses carving as its way of creating designs. Carving tools are used to carve away surface areas of a Lino tile block. Whatever areas of the surface are left untouched are the areas which will print.

The Up-sides:

  • Like many printmaking techniques, the process of creating the Lino block design can be very therapeutic and calming. The action of carving focuses the mind, and can feel hugely satisfying.

  • The end results deliver bold blocks of colour and clean shapes - and the block can be printed from again and again.

The Down-sides:

  • You will need some specialist tools to make a start, but they don’t have to be expensive ones. You can grab a Lino starter kit for a very reasonable amount in most art stores.

  • You obviously do need to be conscious of working safely, seeing as the carving tools are sharp, and if you decide to create an intricate design, you can’t rush it. Lino cuts are more intentional - so it helps to have a plan in mind.


This printmaking method is a bit of an umbrella term - because there are a few variations of Monotype out there - but the common thread in all of them is that the print you get at the end is a one-off. It cannot be recreated in it’s exact form ever again. Oooh!

So what is it?

Printmaking Type: Planographic

Monotypes are made by creating a design on a shiny surface with ink, and then laying paper on top of it to take a print. There are different versions of this (such as Additive, Reductive and Trace Monotype), but they all allow for more painterly, expressive printmaking results.

The Up-sides:

  • If you want to have a more spontaneous playtime, monotype printing can be pretty speedy. It allows for being experimental and is great for those times when you have no plan in mind, but just want to have a go and see what happens.

  • It’s pretty accessible - The only specialist tools it’s handy to have are a roller and a shiny surface to work on - but there are alternatives you might find at home that can sub in for those things.

The Down-sides:

  • If you enjoy taking your time on a design, Monotype can be a bit tricky (depending on the paints or inks you’re working with). You only have a certain timeframe before the inks will dry out and become unprintable, so if you’re looking for a more precise kind of process, Monotype might not be for you.

  • The obvious other downside is that you only get one shot. Once you’ve created your design, you’ll only get one print out of it, so it’s a lesson in letting go. But, this can also be seen as a Pro, because being forced to embrace surprise, imperfection and trying again, can be rather liberating.


The last one in our list is Screenprinting, and this one is it’s own intriguing beastie. It can create both super clean graphic style designs as well as more experimental abstracts - and all with the help of a squeegeeeeeeeeeeeeee (which is never not fun to say).

So what is it?

Printmaking Type: Planographic

Screenprinting is when you have a mesh screen, which you essentially push paint through, onto paper beneath it. You get to splodge paints onto the mesh and pull it all down with the squeegee, pushing the paint evenly through all the teeny tiny holes and feeling hugely pleased with yourself. It’s a form of printmaking which can create unique, one-off prints like Monotypes, and yet also (with the help of stencils or emulsions) create multiple print runs like the relief and intaglio styles.

The Up-sides:

  • It can be a lot of fun, especially if you are in an experimental mood. Creating abstract colour mashes can be very freeing, and is a speedy process - you can knock out a bunch of prints quite quickly.

  • As a beginner, It’s nice to simply be able to play so easily with colours, mixing them into each other and letting the results surprise you.

The Down-sides:

  • You will need some specialist equipment - mainly a mesh screen and a squeegee. Like Linocut, these tools don’t need to be expensive ones, so look around for a good value starter kit.

  • You’ll also find it handy to be near to a sink when you are having a printing session - or at least have a big bowl of water nearby. This is because, if paint is left on the the mesh screen to dry - in between prints or afterwards - you’ll run into trouble later on. Being able to wash away paints easily, to change colours and clean the paint build up, makes the process more enjoyable and keeps your mesh lasting longer.

So, those were five printmaking techniques which can be tried at home, without the need for a printing press. What do you think? Do any stand out to you as ones you’d like to try? Let me know 💛

Thanks for reading!

Keep making to make happy!

Love Gem x


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