All of the Following are Examples of Commonly Used Tools in Relief Printing, Except Which?

Relief printing is a traditional technique that involves carving a design into a material and then applying ink to the raised surface. This method has been used for centuries to create stunning artworks, illustrations, and even book covers. To achieve the desired results, relief printers rely on a range of tools. In this article, we will explore the commonly used tools in relief printing and identify the one tool that does not belong in this category.

Relief printing is a meticulous process that requires the use of various tools to bring a design to life. Each tool serves a specific purpose and contributes to the overall outcome of the print. Let’s take a closer look at these tools and their importance in relief printing.

Carving Tools

Carving tools are the backbone of relief printing. They come in various shapes and sizes, such as gouges, V-tools, and chisels. These tools allow artists to carve intricate details and create different textures on the printing block. Each carving tool has a specific purpose and is essential in achieving the desired design.


Gouges are carving tools with curved blades that come in different sizes and shapes. They are used to remove larger portions of material from the printing block. The curvature of the blade allows artists to create smooth, flowing lines and shapes. Depending on the desired effect, relief printers may use a variety of gouges with different curvature degrees.


V-tools have a V-shaped blade that allows artists to create precise lines and details in relief prints. These tools are particularly useful for carving fine lines, cross-hatching, and adding texture to the design. V-tools come in different sizes, and artists may choose the appropriate one based on the level of detail required.


Chisels have straight blades and are used for removing larger portions of material from the printing block. These tools are ideal for carving straight lines, flat surfaces, and creating distinct edges in the design. Chisels come in various widths, allowing artists to control the depth and width of the carved lines.

The choice and skillful use of carving tools greatly influence the final outcome of a relief print. Artists must select the appropriate tools and master their techniques to achieve the desired level of detail and texture.


Brayers are roller tools used to apply ink onto the printing block. These rollers have a smooth surface and are made of rubber or synthetic materials. Artists roll the brayer in ink and then evenly distribute it on the carved surface of the printing block. This ensures a consistent ink application, resulting in clear and vibrant prints.

Rubber Brayers

Rubber brayers are the most commonly used type of brayers in relief printing. They have a soft rubber surface that provides excellent ink transfer. The rubber material also allows for easy cleaning and maintenance. These brayers come in various sizes, allowing artists to choose the most suitable one for their printing block size and design.

Synthetic Brayers

Synthetic brayers are an alternative to rubber brayers. They are made of synthetic materials that mimic the properties of rubber. Synthetic brayers offer different advantages, such as durability, resistance to chemicals, and compatibility with various types of ink. Artists may prefer synthetic brayers for specific projects or based on personal preference.

The proper use of brayers ensures an even and consistent ink application on the printing block. Artists must roll the brayer in ink, making sure to distribute it evenly, and then apply gentle pressure on the block to transfer the ink onto the paper.

Printing Press

A printing press is a mechanical device used to apply pressure evenly on the inked printing block, transferring the design onto the paper. This tool allows artists to produce multiple prints with consistent quality. The printing press provides the necessary pressure to create a clear and well-defined image, making it indispensable in relief printing.

Types of Printing Presses

There are various types of printing presses used in relief printing, ranging from traditional hand-operated presses to modern motorized presses. Each type has its advantages and limitations, and artists may choose the most suitable one based on their needs and resources. Some relief printers even build their own custom presses to cater to specific requirements.

Hand-operated Presses

Hand-operated presses, also known as etching or letterpress presses, are commonly used in relief printing. These presses are manually operated using a lever or wheel mechanism. They provide precise control over the pressure applied and allow artists to adjust the pressure based on the characteristics of the printing block and paper. Hand-operated presses are popular among relief printers due to their versatility and affordability.

Motorized Presses

Motorized presses are a more advanced option in relief printing. These presses use an electric motor to apply consistent and controlled pressure. Motorized presses are often used in professional printmaking studios or larger-scale production settings. They offer increased efficiency and speed, making them suitable for artists who require high volumes of prints.

Regardless of the type, a printing press is an essential tool in relief printing. It ensures consistent pressure distribution, resulting in clear and well-defined prints.

Printing Ink

Printing ink is a vital component of relief printing. It comes in different colors and consistencies, enabling artists to create a wide range of visual effects. Whether it’s a vibrant, bold print or a subtle, delicate design, the choice of ink plays a significant role in the final outcome. Artists carefully select their inks based on the desired effect and the characteristics of the printing block.

Oil-based Inks

Oil-based inks are commonly used in relief printing due to their vibrant colors and long drying time. These inks are made by pigment particles suspended in oil, such as linseed oil or soybean oil. Oil-based inks offer a wide range of colors and are known for their durability. They are suitable for relief prints that require intense colors and intricate details.

Water-based Inks

Water-based inks are an alternative to oil-based inks. These inks are made by suspending pigment particles in water. Water-based inks are known for their quick drying time and ease of cleanup. They are often preferred by artists who prioritize environmental friendliness and ease of use. Water-based inks offer a range of colors and can be used for various relief printing projects.

Relief Inks

Relief inks are specifically designed for relief printing techniques. These inks have a thick consistency that allows for easy application on the printing block and ensures excellent ink transfer. Relief inks offer a wide range of colors, including metallic and fluorescent options, allowing artists to experiment and create unique effects. These inks are often preferred by relief printers for their reliability and compatibility with the relief printing process.

The choice of ink greatly influences the visual impact and longevity of a relief print. Artists carefully consider the characteristics of the ink, such as drying time, color intensity, and compatibility with the printing block and paper, to achieve their desired results.


A baren is a handheld tool used to apply pressure on the back of the paper during the printing process. It ensures that the ink is evenly transferred from the printing block to the paper, resulting in a crisp and well-defined image. The baren is typically made of bamboo or other firm materials and is an indispensable tool for relief printers.

Traditional Barens

Traditional barens are made of bamboo and have a smooth, flat surface. These barens are lightweight, easy to handle, and allow for precise control of pressure during printing. Traditional barens are popular among relief printers for their versatility and affordability. They are particularly suitable for smaller-scale prints or artists who prefer a hands-on approach.

Modern Barens

Modern barens are made of synthetic materials or a combination of materials, such as plastic, rubber, and metal. These barens offer enhanced durability and a wider range of design options. Some modern barens have textured surfaces or adjustable pressure mechanisms, allowing artists to achieve different visual effects. Modern barens are often preferred by relief printers who require consistent and controlled pressure during printing.

When using a baren, artists must apply even pressure on the back of the paper to ensure an even transfer of ink. They may use circular or back-and-forth motions, depending on the desired effect and the characteristics of the relief print.

Cutting Mats

Cutting mats provide a protective surface for relief printers while carving their designs. These mats are made of self-healing materials that prevent the carving tools from damaging the working surface. Cutting mats also help in maintaining the sharpness of the carving tools, ensuring they last longer and perform optimally.

Self-Healing Materials

Cutting mats are typically made of self-healing materials, such as PVC or rubber. These materials have the ability to close up after being cut, preventing permanent damage to the mat’s surface. Self-healing cutting mats ensure a smooth and consistent carving experience for relief printers, allowing them to focus on their designs without worrying about damaging the working surface.

Protecting the Work Surface

Cutting mats not only protect the carvingtools but also the work surface itself. The sharp blades of carving tools can easily scratch or damage tables or desks, especially if they are made of softer materials. By using a cutting mat, relief printers create a designated and protected area for their carving work, ensuring the longevity of both their tools and work surface.

Size and Thickness Options

Cutting mats come in various sizes and thicknesses to accommodate different carving projects and preferences. Relief printers can choose a size that suits their work area and provides ample space for their designs. The thickness of the mat can also be selected based on personal preference and the level of protection required. Thicker mats offer more cushioning and protection, while thinner mats are easier to store and transport.

Overall, cutting mats are essential tools in relief printing that provide both protection and longevity to the carving process. By using a cutting mat, relief printers can focus on their designs without worrying about damaging their tools or work surface.

Inking Plates

Inking plates, also known as ink slabs, are used to distribute ink evenly for the brayer. These plates are usually made of glass or acrylic and provide a smooth surface for rolling the brayer in ink. Inking plates come in various sizes to accommodate different printing projects and are an essential tool in the relief printing process.

Glass Inking Plates

Glass inking plates are a popular choice among relief printers due to their smooth and non-absorbent surface. The non-porous nature of glass allows for easy cleanup and prevents excessive absorption of ink. Glass plates also provide excellent visibility, allowing artists to assess the amount of ink on the brayer and ensure even distribution. They are available in different sizes, making them suitable for various relief printing projects.

Acrylic Inking Plates

Acrylic inking plates are an alternative to glass plates. They offer similar advantages, such as a smooth surface and easy cleanup. Acrylic plates are lightweight and more durable than glass, making them a preferred choice for artists who value portability and longevity. Additionally, acrylic plates are less prone to breakage, which can be advantageous when working in a busy studio or during transportation.

Other Inking Surfaces

In addition to glass and acrylic plates, relief printers may also use alternative inking surfaces, such as smooth tiles or non-porous stones. These surfaces can provide similar benefits to glass and acrylic plates and may offer unique textures or visual effects to the ink. Artists are encouraged to experiment with different inking surfaces to achieve their desired results and explore creative possibilities in relief printing.

Regardless of the material, inking plates are essential tools that ensure the even distribution of ink on the brayer. By rolling the brayer on the smooth surface of the inking plate, relief printers can achieve consistent and controlled ink application on the printing block.

Registration Guides

Registration guides help artists align multiple colors or layers of a relief print accurately. These guides ensure that each subsequent layer of ink is placed precisely over the previous layers, resulting in a coherent and cohesive final image. Registration guides can be made of plastic, wood, or other materials and are indispensable when printing complex or multicolored designs.

Plastic Registration Guides

Plastic registration guides are commonly used in relief printing due to their durability and flexibility. These guides usually consist of a rigid plastic frame with adjustable tabs or slots. Artists can position their paper and printing block within these guides to ensure accurate alignment. Plastic registration guides are lightweight and portable, making them suitable for both studio use and on-site printing demonstrations.

Wooden Registration Guides

Wooden registration guides offer a more traditional and aesthetically pleasing option. These guides are made of solid wood with engraved or machined markings for precise alignment. Wooden registration guides provide stability and durability, making them ideal for long-term use in a dedicated printmaking studio. They can also add a touch of craftsmanship and sophistication to the printing process.

Other Registration Methods

While registration guides are commonly used, relief printers may also employ alternative registration methods, such as pins, corner clamps, or custom-made registration systems. These methods allow for precise alignment and can be tailored to specific printing projects or preferences. Artists are encouraged to explore different registration techniques to find the most suitable one for their needs and artistic vision.

Registration guides are essential tools in relief printing that ensure accurate alignment and registration of multiple layers or colors. By using these guides, artists can achieve a cohesive and visually stunning final image with intricate details and precise color placement.

Printmaking Paper

Printmaking paper is specifically designed for relief printing. It has a smooth, sturdy surface that can withstand the pressure applied during printing. The choice of paper can significantly impact the final print’s quality, texture, and longevity. Artists often experiment with various types of printmaking paper to achieve the desired results for their relief prints.

Weight and Thickness

Printmaking paper comes in various weights and thicknesses to accommodate different printing techniques and artistic preferences. Heavier weight papers, such as those above 250 gsm (grams per square meter), provide more durability and stability during the printing process. Thicker papers also offer a more substantial feel and may showcase the texture of the relief print more prominently. Lighter weight papers, around 150-200 gsm, can be suitable for smaller prints or projects that require a more delicate and lightweight result.

Surface Texture

Printmaking papers offer a range of surface textures, including smooth, medium, and rough. The surface texture can influence the final appearance and feel of the relief print. A smooth surface allows for fine details and crisp lines, while a rough surface can add texture and character to the print. Artists may choose different surface textures based on the desired effect and the characteristics of their design.

Acid-Free and Archival Quality

When selecting printmaking paper for relief printing, artists should consider the paper’s acid-free and archival qualities. Acid-free paper ensures the longevity of the print by preventing yellowing or deterioration over time. Archival-quality paper is made to resist fading and maintain its quality for an extended period. Artists who wish to preserve their relief prints for generations should look for paper that meets these criteria.

Printmaking paper is a crucial component in relief printing, as it directly affects the final appearance and longevity of the print. Artists should experiment with different weights, thicknesses, and surface textures to find the perfect paper for their relief prints.

Cleaning Supplies

While not directly involved in the printing process, cleaning supplies are crucial for maintaining the longevity and quality of relief printing tools. Cleaning solvents, brushes, and rags are used to remove excess ink from the printing block, brayers, and other tools. Proper cleaning and maintenance of tools ensure consistent performance and extend their lifespan.

Cleaning Solvents

Cleaning solvents, such as mineral spirits or vegetable-based cleaners, are used to dissolve and remove ink from the printing block and brayers. These solvents are specifically formulated to break down the ink without damaging the carving or printing surfaces. Artists should follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use appropriate safety precautions when handling and disposing of cleaning solvents.

Cleaning Brushes

Cleaning brushes are used to remove excess ink from the carved surfaces of the printing block and the brayers. Brushes with firm bristles or natural hair are suitable for this task, as they can effectively remove ink without causing damage. Relief printers may use different sizes and types of brushes depending on the intricacy of the design and the areas that need cleaning.

Cleaning Rags

Cleaning rags or lint-free cloths are essential for wiping away excess ink and cleaning residual solvent from the printing block and brayers. These rags should be absorbent and non-abrasive to avoid scratching or damaging the surfaces. Relief printers should have a supply of clean rags on hand to ensure proper cleaning and maintenance of their tools.

Regular cleaning and maintenance of relief printing tools are crucial for their optimal performance and longevity. By removing excess ink and keeping the tools clean, artists can achieve consistent results and extend the lifespan of their carving tools, brayers, and other relief printing equipment.

In conclusion, all of the mentioned tools are commonly used in relief printing, except for the registration guides. While registration guides are vital for aligning multiple layers or colors in relief printing, they are not tools used directly in the printing process. Nevertheless, each of the other tools discussed plays a crucial role in relief printing, contributing to the creation of unique and visually stunning prints. From carving tools and brayers to printing presses and inking plates, relief printers rely on a combination of skill, technique, and the right tools to bring their artistic vision to life. By understanding the purpose and proper use of each tool, artists can achieve exceptional results in relief printing and create remarkable works of art.

Related video of All of the Following are Examples of Commonly Used Tools in Relief Printing, Except Which?