Welcome to the rockin' world of stone lithography  

What is lithography?

líthos (stone) + gráphein (to write) = lithography

Lithography is a planographic printmaking process that uses a flat stone on which various types of greasy mediums are used to create an image.

After the drawing is completed, the image is "fixed" into the surface of the stone through chemical means. During the printing process, the greasy image areas will attract the oil-based ink while the non-greasy areas of the image (the negative space) will repel the ink.

lithographic stone with drawing of three hands resting on a lithographic press bed

Behold the Legendary Litho Stone!

A lithographic stone is a smooth, flat block of carefully processed limestone.

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Perfectly Printable

Stones are quarried specifically for their hardness, fine grain and homogeneous texture.

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Variety of Sizes

Stones range wildly in size from very small to massive. You're only limited by your budget and the size of your litho press.

blank lithographic stone
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Endless Possibilities

Graining the stone removes the old image and enables the stone to be re-used again and again.

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Diverse Color Range

Litho stones range from dark blue/grey to pale yellow/white. The stone's color depends on its age and makeup.

The Printing Process

Grain Stone

Prepare the litho stone's surface for drawing by graining it down to a smooth, flat surface using different grits of carborundum. Make sure to fully remove the old image. Fan dry when done.

Create Image

Draw your image onto the newly sensitized stone surface using an oil-based medium such as litho crayons, tusche, etc. It’s important to remember that the image will be reversed when printed, so you must draw it backwards on the stone!

Etch Stone

Dust the finished image with rosin and talc before massaging a solution of gum arabic and nitric acid into the stone. Wipe away any excess etching material. Repeat after 24 hours. This chemically "fixes" the image into the stone for printing.

Print Image

Dampen the stone surface with water and apply a thin layer of ink to the image using a roller. Place your printing paper, padding and tympan onto the stone. Crank this through the litho press to transfer the image from the stone onto the paper.

Learn More

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History of Litho

The invention of lithography unleashed the second great printing revolution after the printing press. Learn about the history of this process.

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Glossary of Terms

Take your understanding of lithography to the next level! Learn the definitions and see visual examples of common lithography terms.