Litho Print: Step One – Black Solid Method

Posted on: September 27th, 2014
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Black Line Drawing (see Computer method video: contrast)

Line drawings made by hand must be black and white without shading. To adjust blacks and sharpen whites, scan your drawing into the computer and make adjustments using the Levels tool in Photoshop. If your drawing has grey values or shading, you will have to add a bitmap/dot to the image in Photoshop (note: this is explained in another section). Once your image is adjusted, run a test print on the laser printer using plain paper. Make sure your image fits within the border of your litho plate (try to leave at least an inch on all sides). If you’re satisfied with your image, replace the computer paper with the litho plate in the printer’s manual tray and press print. Litho plates should be cut to a standard paper size – letter, legal or tabloid. The toner used in laser printers is very black; it will give the darkest and most predictable results in terms of printing by hand. To help fuse the toner onto the plate, you can place it on the hotplate for 10-15 minutes, using a temperature of 150-200 degrees. Don’t touch the surface of the hot plate while it is on. You WILL get burned. Don’t leave your plate for longer than 15 minutes or set the heat higher, as your plate may burn. Make sure to turn the hot plate OFF. Once the toner is set you’re ready to print! Remember… your print will be a mirror image of your drawing. If you have text, you will need to flip it in Photoshop.

Bitmap (see Computer Method Video: Bitmap)

If your drawing has shading or any grey areas, you will need to add a bitmap pattern in Photoshop. Open your image in Photoshop, convert it to “Grayscale” and select “Image”, “Mode” and then “Bitmap”. Your resolution Output should be 150 Pixels/Inch or higher. In terms of “Methods” you have 2 choices: Halftone Screen or Diffusion Dither. A Halftone Screen has a regular grid-like pattern (i.e. similar to a newspaper). With a Halftone Screen, set your “Frequency” to a maximum of 75 Lines/Inch – the higher the number, the finer the detail. Set the “Angle” to 45 degrees and the “Shape” to “Ellipse” or “Round”. The “Diffusion Dither” method gives your image a more organic look, using dots that resemble pointillism. Set Resolution “Output” to 133 Lines/Inch or less (Input is 72, sized to the desired scale of your final output). Once you’ve applied a bitmap, run a test print on the laser print to check your dot. Try to leave at least an inch border on all sides. If it looks good, replace the paper with your litho plate (cut to a standard paper size – letter, legal or tabloid) and run it through the printer using the manual tray. To help fuse the toner onto the plate, you can place it on the hotplate for 10-15 minutes, using a temperature of 150-200 degrees. Don’t touch the surface of the hot plate, while it is on. You WILL get burned. Don’t leave your plate for longer than 15 minutes or set the heat higher, as your plate may burn. Make sure to turn the hot plate OFF. Once the toner is set you’re ready to print! Remember… your print will be a mirror image of your drawing. If you have text, you will need to flip it in Photoshop.

India Ink/Sharpie

You can also make a lithography plate by drawing directly onto it. This can be done in combination with images made using a laser printer, or on a clean plate. You can use permanent marker (i.e. Sharpie or Micro Pens), India ink, ballpoint pen, China Marker and/or a #5 Stones Litho crayon. Ballpoint pen however must be left to set for a minimum of 24 hours. Once your image is drawn, you can help fuse the materials to the plate using the hot plate. Don’t touch the surface of the hot plate while it is on. You WILL get burned. Turn the hot plate on and set it to 150-200 degrees. Leave the plate for 10-15 minutes. Don’t leave it for longer than 15 minutes or set the heat higher, as your plate may burn. Make sure to turn the hot plate OFF. Once the ink is set you’re ready to print! Remember… your print will be a mirror image of your drawing. If you have text, you will need to write it in reverse/backwards.

Categorised under: Lithography