Guide to the Letterpress Printing Process

by | Oct 15, 2020

Designers assert that letterpress printing is the foremost printing technique since the 15th century. Although it entails a complicated process, the outcome of this tedious printing technique is an elegant design on a paper.

Moreover, the characteristics of letterpress printing and its classic effect make it an evergreen printing method despite the creation of more convenient painting techniques over the years.  

The popularity of letterpress printing has made it a source of income for some people and a unique method of printing for others.

So, away from computers and let’s get you ready for a super creative way of designing and printing whether as a source of livelihood or an appreciation of the art. 

Below is our guide on how to letterpress like a pro:

1. Sketching

There is no refined design without a rough sketch. Use your imagination and keep sketching until you arrive at the perfect design.

Draw or write your intended design for the print. Determine the letter case of the designs and the font of the letters, too.

2. Discover a Flawless Typeface

Know your type case before getting started. The letterpress typeface is comparable to the font box in Microsoft Word. You’ll find all the numbers, alphabets, ligatures, punctuation marks, and particular front styles in a type case.

3. Setting Type for the Print

To print, you must arrange your type. Place the lines on the metal composing sticks and subsequently press on a paper. 

Set the lines with a dividing metal piece (a lead slug). Besides, you have to set your metal type one letter at a go, from the left side to the right. Make each line 2-points thick to maintain the proper line spacing.

4. Type, Tie and Proofread

Traditionally, you can bind with a fabric thread, and then fasten the edges of the type with the thread.

5. Metal Frame

After proofreading, untie the type and keep it in a metal frame, commonly known as ‘chase.’

Place the chase in the printing press and ensure that it’s adequately tight so that the type doesn’t shake off during the procedure. Also, ensure that the letterpress printer is under due pressure for maximum outcome.

6. Color Selection

Make the perfect color choice for the print. Bear in mind that the letterpress printer can’t print several colors simultaneously. Therefore, if you want various colors, you’ll need to arrange the type repeatedly until you have all the colors you want.

Ensure you use fewer colors for your designs to save yourself the stress as it’s both time saving and economical. These two benefits are well cherished as a letterpress designer.

7. Cut and Trim

After printing, you have to cut and trim your paper into the proper size.

Know that despite how elegant this design method may be, it can’t meet every printing work considering the hard work, time, and cost of ink needed to execute individual projects. 

However, recent technology has made a replica of letterpress printing designs and styles possible. With digitally designed letterpress prints, businesses can identify with your design technique to promote their brands. Moreover, with the advent of the rotary press, significant progress came into letterpress printing. This device supports high production and speeds up the job.

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