The Materials and Techniques of Drawings and Prints
Essential to understanding a work of art on paper is an appreciation of how it was made. Did the artist choose to draw in red chalk, gouache, or with pen and ink? Was their print created through woodcut, etching, or lithography? And how did those critical choices affect the final appearance of the work of art?
In every description of a work of art—in a book, on the wall labels of an exhibition, or on a website page—there is a field that identifies its medium; in other words, an explanation of the materials and techniques employed by the artist to produce the object. Understanding the process as well as the distinct qualities—and limitations—of specific materials illuminates and expands our understanding of the work of art.
This online feature outlines the most common techniques for making prints and drawings. Through the descriptions of each technique, as well as the animated images (GIFs) and illustrative works from The Met collection, you will be able to learn the ways these materials and processes are used to create works on paper. Today, artists still employ all of these techniques in much the same way they did hundreds of years ago.
What Is Printmaking?
Learn more about this artistic process based on the principle of transferring images from a matrix onto another surface.
How Is a Drawing Made?
Learn more about the materials used for drawing and the variety of ways artists employ them.