Think planographic printing? Think: lithographs.

Garry Shead, 'The Left-Handed Painter'


The main kind of planographic print, the lithograph, exploits the incompatibility of water and oil. Artists draw on metal or limestone plates with a grease crayon and then dampen the plate. Because water repels oil, the ink they then apply only adheres to the greasy drawing, leaving the rest of the substrate blank.

Funnily enough, the invention of lithography was sparked by a laundry list. In 1796, German playwright Aloysius Senefelder was jotting down what to wash on a limestone block with a grease pencil, when a brainwave struck. He spent the next two years developing lithography.

Lithography is still a popular printmaking technique. The ease of drawing onto, rather than excavating the plate’s surface allows for fluid designs. For keen draughtsmen, lithography is an ideal way to incorporate printmaking into their practice.

Check out these lithographs if you like... 

Complexity. With lithography, ready yourself for some intricate, spellbinding images. In James Gleeson’s universe, disembodied bodies gather, while in Garry Shead's 'The Left-Handed Painter', the artist conducts a life drawing class within Plato's cave. No matter the path you're on, lithography has light to bear. 


James Gleeson, 'Judgement of Paris'


Printing fun fact

Lithography revolutionized the magazine and book industry. Suddenly, publishers didn’t need to labour over metal plates, they could instead hire artists to draw designs.