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Aluminium Plate Lithograph:
Portrait of Woody Allen

Woody Allen

Although you'll find this image on the Caricature Page, here we list it with - quote - "fine art" - unquote - because the manner in which it was rendered.

This image is in fact a lithograph. But not a traditional stone lithograph. Instead this is a print from aluminum plate lithography where the drawing is made on, yes, an aluminum plate.

Aluminum lithography is a later adaptation and was - and to some degree still is - used to print magazines with a lot of pictures. Mass produced metal plate lithography is more often called offset printing and it became the method of choice if you need to print a lot of copies. Of course, photoengraving methods - which are now computer controlled - are used to make the plates.

The aluminum plate lithography uses methods that are similar to stone lithography regarding drawing, fixing the image, and printing. But the methods are not completely interchangeably and using the exact method of stone lithography on aluminum is actually dangerous. Lithography should only be undertaken by those trained in the art.

In general, though, the image was drawn onto the plate (prepared after "graining"), and then the plate was treated to make the blank areas receptive to water. The image was fixed so that it would repel water and remain on the plate after multiple inkings. The plate was then wetted with water and inked. The ink - which is oil based - doesn't stick to the wet areas but only on the image. You make your print on paper, and so we get a picture of Woody.