The Lithography is a printing technique and its name is derived from the Greek lithos meaning stone and the word graph hails from the Latin meaning drawing. This process allows the artist who performs it to have a large number of different possibilities and resources to work at the same time with different elements, facilitating their creation and giving them the opportunity to correct possible errors.


What is lithography?

The lithography is a printing technique that is based on the creation of a desired image through a limestone or by a plate of metal with which one can create different kinds of creative designs and in some cases improvised.


What does it consist of

Lithography is a technique that allows the artist who practices it to use a series of different resources and elements to make it and also gives him the great possibility of improvising at the time of creation since the designs can be easily corrected in case of be necessary.


The process consists of making a drawing on a lithographic stone , this stone must be properly polished beforehand and this process is carried out with materials such as pencils and inks. After the drawing has been captured, the artist places a solution made with nitric acid and gum arabic , substances that will function as a type of adhesive, fixing the drawing to the greasy areas of the stone.

Subsequently, the stone must be wet and at that time, the drawings that have inks of greasy consistency repel water immediately, while the places where there is no grease, retain the paint. When the stone is still wet, it is inked using a roller so that in this way the ink can better adhere to the drawing.

Lithography characteristics

Among its main characteristics we mention the following:

  • Lithography works thanks to the chemical principle that occurs when trying to mix water with oil or fat .
  • Do not use any type of corrosive material or sharp tools.
  • It is considered by many as a type of stamping .
  • The stone used during the procedure must have adequate porosity to be able to absorb water properly, in addition, it must also be of a grainy consistency so that it can absorb fat at the same time.
  • The measurement of the thickness that the stone used must have cannot be greater than one centimeter, otherwise, it could not withstand the great pressure exerted by the press.
  • Another type of material that can be used for lithography is zinc plate , which are easier to acquire and store.


Lithography is a process that has its roots in 1796 thanks to Alois Senefelder , who, in search of a simpler and cheaper printing method for his scores and for the scripts of different plays, devised the use of this technique printing, which he first called by the name of chemical printing . It was widely used in the early nineteenth century and was used by great artists such as Goya and Picasso , who were in charge of giving the technique the importance and artistic quality of the process.

At the end of the 19th century, lithography began to use color, giving way to a type of printing known by the name of poster design , a process that came to give a complete turn to the advertising of the time, in fact, it was widely used to disseminate information in the press and to capture pictures in books .

What is lithography for?

This technique is used mainly by artists and serves to provide them with a large number of different possibilities to create different works. It can also be used to print drawings , informative posters for news or commercial propaganda or modern art pieces.

How to make a lithograph

The steps to be followed to make a lithograph are explained in the following points:

1. Trace the design

The layout of the design must be done on the stone piece, which must be porous but smooth, generally limestone . After tracing the drawing to be made, proceed using a greasy pencil or a brush moistened with paint of greasy consistency to make the strokes. A very important point in this step is that the drawing must be made in an inverted way , so that, when it is transferred to the paper, it is in the correct direction.

2. Moisten the iron

Next, after having finished the drawing, the plate must be suitably soaked using water, in this way, the places where the grease was placed will not be penetrated by water.

3. Inking the plate

For this step, it is necessary to use an ink that has a greasy base and with it the roller is inked . When it is completely filled with ink in a uniform way, it is passed on the stone plate in the place where the drawing was located. It must be ensured that all parts are correctly filled with ink. The surface by itself will be in charge of repelling the ink where there are no lines and where the design is.

4. Loading the paper

This is the last step and it is best to use a paper that has a porous consistency . The paper must be placed on the plate and then, with a press , pressure is exerted . This step can also be done using a roller and passing it over the plate and the paper. Subsequently, the paper must be removed and the design will be ready.

It is important to emphasize that if you want the drawing to have different colors, the different areas of the design must be inked with the color you prefer, avoiding the mixing of the paints, so greater precision will be needed.


Since the lithographic process had its beginnings, it was important for people because it functioned as a means of communication that included images and different types of visual elements. Today, lithography continues to have the same importance and thanks to advancement and innovation , this type of printing is done with higher quality and efficiency. It is a faster process through which you can print the designs , especially the business that used for advertising purposes.

Other uses that make it important is the printing of packaging so that customers have a good image of the products offered. The billboards in General , have also benefited through the process.

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