History of Printing



(images used in timeline were collected online)

Historical Evaluation of Printing:

While printing has evolved a substantial amount over time, from the humble woodblock to the widespread digital printer, the technological progression of printing has been one filled with many inventions and leaps in sophistication. Although there are many milestones in regards to the evolution of printing, there are a few more notable and substantial ones that hold more weight over smaller iterations. One of the earliest known forms of printing is woodblock printing, which dates to the 200s. This form of printing was achieved via the use of a relief pattern with the raised areas on the stamp taking the ink. This stamp would then be pressed onto the paper or cloth and the areas that were recessed on the stamp would leave ‘white’ or blank areas.

An evolution of the woodblock was movable type, which came about in 1040. The way movable type works is like woodblock printing, except on a more mass produced and commercial scale. Multiple pieces of metal type are used to print text and are easy to handle and move. The printing press in 1440 quickly followed with Gutenberg pioneering his printing press, the Gutenberg press. This was improved upon by Friedrich Koening who designed a non-manpowered printing press using steam. Most printing presses during this time work by applying pressure and therefore pressing ink onto a surface.

Multiple printing houses were constructed, mainly in Europe, and the press itself evolved further with the introduction of the rotary printing press, an early precursor to offset printing. However, this came shortly after lithography, a method of printing onto a smooth surface. This technique required the use of chemicals and various ink and water mixtures to interact with ink. The ink sticks to the positive image, usually made up of a chemical, and would be cleaned away by water to leave a negative part to the image. Lithography was improved to allow colour and made use of multiple stones, each with their own colour, to create a reproduction of an image.

Leaping forward in time to the 1870s, the offset press was created and became a widely-used printing technique. It used a method whereby an image is transferred to a rubber blanket from a plate and then to the desired surface. Although the press is usually used for printing on paper, that only came about in 1904 when Ira Washingston Rubel developed the press further. Beforehand though the press was initially used to print onto tin. Offset printing can also be used in tandem with the repulsion of oil and water, similarly to the lithographic process.

Over thirty years after the invention of the original offset press came the Photostat and rectigraph. This machine acted as a primitive photocopier and made use of a large camera to photograph documents.

Screen printing followed shortly after the Photostat and was a technique that proved useful for people wanting to print simple designs and logos onto clothing and posters. The screen printing method requires the user to transfer ink, using a blade that is dragged across the screen, to the desired surface with the help of a stencil. Screen printing is still widely used today for printing designs and logos onto clothing.

Inkjet printing revolutionised printing and came about in 1951, roughly 40 years after screen printing was invented. This method of printing utilised drops of ink to recreate digital images and made printing more accessible than ever. Instead of ink, the laser printer made use of an electrostatic process and used a laser beam that it passed over a negatively charged cylinder to create images with a different charge. This cylinder then transfers electrically charged ink onto the desired surface, of which is promptly heated to cause the ink to become fused with the surface.

Three years after laser printing was introduced thermal printing was invented. Thermal printing creates an image via the selective use of a heated print head on a special type of paper. Wherever the heat occurs, the area turns dark. Moving along twelve years, 3D printing was born and heralded what futurologist Jeremy Rifkin claimed to be the beginning of the third industrial revolution. It was certainly revolutionary at the time and is still going strong even today, evolving all the time with both practical and entertainment based uses being developed and improved upon constantly. 3D printing is done via multiple layers of material being ‘printed’ atop one another while being guided by a computer that is usually following the specifications of a digital 3D model.

Even more recently, though still quite a while ago, digital printing was invented. Even though it was developed over twenty years ago back in 1991 it is still going strong. This is probably because it embraces the new modern world and makes use of tried and true printing methods to achieve both small and large scale printing output. Digital printing uses either both inkjet and laser or one or the other. The large scale popularity of printing directly from a digital image to a large variety of media has allowed almost anyone with a computer and a laser or inkjet printer to be able to tangibly behold a print of a digital image.



Bibliography and Referencing:

Arkin, J. (2010). How Do Thermal Printers Work? | Printer & Printer Ink Related Articles. [online] Printerinkcartridges.printcountry.com. Available at: http://printerinkcartridges.printcountry.com/printcountry-articles/printer-ink-cartridges-information-facts-downloads/how-do-thermal-printers-work [Accessed 6 Nov. 2016].

Zebra Technologies. (2016). Direct Thermal & Thermal Transfer Printing FAQs | Zebra. [online] Available at: https://www.zebra.com/us/en/resource-library/getting-started/direct-thermal-thermal-transfer/direct-thermal-faq.html [Accessed 6 Nov. 2016].

En.wikipedia.org. (2016). History of printing. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_printing [Accessed 6 Nov. 2016].

Bpsnet.org.uk. (n.d.). History of Printing. [online] Available at: http://www.bpsnet.org.uk/history_print.html [Accessed 6 Nov. 2016].

Rouse, M. (2010). What is inkjet printer? – Definition from WhatIs.com. [online] WhatIs.com. Available at: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/inkjet-printer [Accessed 6 Nov. 2016].

Steins, J. (2010). Woodblock Printing ~ An overview of the history of relief printing. [online] John Steins. Available at: http://www.johnsteins.com/woodblock-printing.html [Accessed 6 Nov. 2016].

Castleink.com. (2016). Thermal Printers – Learn How do Thermal Printers Work?. [online] Available at: http://www.castleink.com/category/333/How-do-Thermal-Printers-Work%3F.html [Accessed 6 Nov. 2016].

Woodford, C. (2016). How does printing work?. [online] Explain that Stuff. Available at: http://www.explainthatstuff.com/how-printing-works.html [Accessed 6 Nov. 2016].


Contemporary Poster Analysis


Contemporary Poster Analysis:

The composition of this poster makes use of two triangles. One triangle stretches from the top of Batman’s silhouette down to the edge of the city. The other triangle, this one upside down, goes from the title Batman to the two main actor’s names at the top left and right. This is an effective way of moving the eye around the image while allowing the main focal point to be somewhat centred. The word Batman lies upon one of the rule of thirds lines, further helping it to take centre stage as the main focal point. This is supplemented by the contrast created by the dark black and saturated yellow.

Colour and value-wise, only three have been used, yellow, black and white. The white has been used for the text regarding the actors, actresses and organisation names and are secondary to the dominating black and yellow duo that is a hallmark of Batman’s design when it comes to his colour scheme. The black and yellow colours are a nod to his original logo, a stylised black silhouette of a bat on a yellow oval, this is built upon even more by the silhouette of Batman and his name being projected into the sky above Gotham, another nod to his logo and how it is projected into the sky when his help is required. The black stems from the dark of night and the yellow represents the city lights and bat signal that calls him to duty.

A clean font was chosen for the two main actors names, which helps that text stand out from the gritty and textural black background. The gritty and dirty texture hints at the crime-ridden city of Gotham, the city he watches over. For the main title, an almost stencil-like font has been used with texture showing through and some of the letters and elements of those letters lean at various angles, contrasting with some of the more structural and sturdy letters within the same word; reinforcing the strength and willpower of the Dark Knight. The text of the title has been used in a way that cuts into the silhouette of Batman, with the ends of the name connecting with the dark background. The angular, almost lopsided, nature of parts of the text perhaps foreshadows something within the movie; is Batman going to be toppled or will the city experience an event that shakes up the status quo? As for the text at the bottom, a tall bunched up font was used with the text shrunk down and clustered together to not distract the viewer from the focal point of the poster; Batman.

This poster was most likely made in Photoshop or Illustrator, perhaps the designer used both in tandem to create it. The silhouettes of the buildings could have been created using a pen tool from illustrator or a collection of shapes combined. As for the main silhouette, that of Batman, it was probably created with a similar technique. Creating a large triangle and cutting the top off for his body and cape. A rectangle, two triangles and part of a circle at the top creates the silhouette of his head and mask. The slant of his shoulders could be created either with the pen tool or an edited shape that has been slanted and morphed. For efficiency, you could use a more complex shape, such as a hexagon, and edit it to create the cape, body and shoulders of the silhouette. The silhouettes of the buildings could have been created similarly, with a combination of the pen tool and various shapes. Another possibility is that images of real buildings were traced and then edited to help create the Gotham city skyline and reinforce some believability, grounding the designs of the buildings in reality. The grungy texture was probably done in photoshop via the use of a texture/splatter brush in combination with a mask, this allows for the texture and edges to be manipulated to create a more pleasing look, layout, visual weight distribution and composition.

The purpose of this poster is to captivate the viewer’s attention and communicate to them that this is classic Batman, evoking a sense of nostalgia over the classic imagery of the masked crusader looking down over Gotham, watching and protecting. The use of the iconic two Batman colours, yellow and black, has helped with this feeling of nostalgia and loyalty to a character, comic series and brand.

Evolution of Digital Media:

The evolution of digital media has allowed contemporary art, art created during the present time period, to be not only more accessible but allow more efficient iteration and more forgiving experimentation. The creation of this poster digitally has allowed for more freedom with how to approach it. The gritty texture, if done traditionally, would have required a large use of tape and physical masking so as not to allow any of the paint to enter parts of the image that the artist does not desire interference with. Digitally, the designer can mask off large areas of the image and use the organisation of layers to safely alter and change the image without destroying the overall layout and poster.

Multiple different styles have emerged out of the now widespread use of digital media, with certain art styles being synonymous with different pieces of software.  At the same time one person may create an illustration in Photoshop that is beautifully rendered and intricate, while another person might design a clean and elegant poster within the same program. The possibilities are endless, with every artist being able to express their own unique style, visual language and voice with the help of digital software as well as with the widespread accessibility of social media.  With this broad range of tools, techniques and software choices, the freedom that an artist possesses has grown exponentially and this is further evident when one looks at the diversity of art and design in all fields of the creative arts in today’s day and age.

Digital media has great potential in just about all fields of art and design. The use of 3D is becoming commonplace, with the intertwining of software and hardware allowing a multitude of viable workflows tailored to each individual. Each artist can use and customize their software as they see fit, with the ability to create and import brushes in programs such as Photoshop allowing you to further develop a unique style, and even emulate traditional media and tools.

Nowadays digital media is being used to create just about anything and everything art related that used to be created primarily traditionally. With the use of 3D, VFX, physics based rendering and illustrative/painting software, digital media has become a cornerstone in today’s art and design world. Digital media has not made traditional art obsolete, far from it, what it has done is made art more accessible and forgiving for beginners. It also allows professionals to efficiently iterate and develop their ideas and concepts without them having a cluttered studio full of brushes and paint, instead they might have a Wacom tablet, a copy of their desired software and a laptop. This allows for a clean and more efficient work space. With space becoming more and more of a premium, this is highly desirable by many people, especially working professionals.

With the large amount of free software out there, as well as trials, beginners don’t need to fork out large amounts of cash for sculpture equipment and materials. Instead all they need is a working computer or laptop (which most people have), a mouse and a free trial of Blender to see if it is something they are interested in. Not only that but, regarding graphic design and illustration, the process has become so much more efficient. You can create rulers, grids, layers and masks to organise and layout your work. Once you’re done all you need to do to have a physical copy is print it out instead of having to use a method such as screen printing to create multiple copies. With the growth of digital media has come a large number of tutorials and communities online that help artists grow, allowing education about art and design to be more widespread. This in turn allows the various artistic fields to grow and become more accessible.

The ability for people to efficiently create art wherever they are, with the portability and diverse selection of devices that are capable of running the relevant software, is quite extraordinary. I see digital media growing more capable of solving design solutions and handling larger files, allowing designers and artists to create more efficiently and make bolder design decisions. Not only that, but the integration of software and the mixing of digital media (such as mixing 3D, animation and digital illustration) will most likely grow and evolve over time,

Modernist Poster Analysis



(image found online)

The layout of this image, by AM. Cassandre,  makes use of strong verticals and diagonals to guide the eyes throughout the image. The eye of the main subject matter grips the viewer and you must forcibly wrench your gaze away to view the rest of the image. Circles (and implied circles) contrast with the stylised and textural skin, this creates a series of focal points the eye bounces to and from. One point perspective lines travel towards ear, directing you towards the head. The strong vertical on the left prevents the intense diagonals from taking you off the page to the left. The curve at the top of the head keeps the eyes contained in the image and slopes down towards the open mouth. The diagonals are constructed in a way to keep the eyes trapped in a loop from the ear circle, the eye and the implied mouth circle (screaming mouth attracts attention). The use and exploitation of human psychology in regards to the gaze of the eye and the screaming mouth helps to keep the viewer looking at the image. They can’t help but wonder why this figure appears to be in either pain or intent on shouting some wordless exclamation.

The colours themselves are rather desaturated and the warm ochre gradient compliment the cool eye, helping it to stand out, especially since they are complimentary colours. The dark background seems like a cold void, this is enhanced by the colour relativity caused by the warm skin. In turn, the background causes the skin to appear warmer, especially by the more saturated jaw. The aforementioned jaw and face are separated from the rest of the head and neck by darker colour, especially near the jaw where more texture implies more intensity and a wild and unshaven quality. The strong brown vertical bar, almost like a bar from a cage, is cooler than one might expect. It provides an almost dull barrier that the viewer doesn’t want to cross and so keeps the audience focused on the main subject matter and text.

Due to the visuals of a human screaming out, jutting his head up and back with his jaw out, it would seem as though something is causing him or her pain. The striking gaze of the eye staring at the viewer helps supplement this affect. The strong lines moving into the black hole of the character’s ear seems to symbolise information or knowledge that is streaming in. The lamp-like shapes hanging off the strong brown vertical element can be interpreted as just that; objects used to shed light upon a matter, or they could be viewed as a stylised and abstracted ‘i’ repeated several times. If so, these lamps might appear to be information symbols being fed into the person’s ear from the strong vertical, which represents a powerful company, organisation or even society, of which continues to evolve, expand and develop as time passes by.

The strong, bold text is more fired than inserted into the character’s head, which communicates a forceful feeling. The change from black to ochre ensures that the text is always readable and in high contrast which almost guarantees it will have a high place on the visual hierarchy. The type’s kerning is closely spaced, promoting a claustrophobic quality. The text above the L’ INTRANS is underlined, the line itself almost slicing off the top of the character’s head, further pushing forward the conversation on communication and information. The space between the words are somewhat regular, although slightly pushed apart. The large bold “L” nearly creates several tangents with the perspective-like lines that shoot towards the ear. These tangents, and their near-touching nature, promote a sense of un-comfortability that the character no doubt shares.

The image looks as though water colour or gouache was used with tape and physical shapes to paint around to create the strong, clean diagonals, verticals and circles. The image is composed of a collection of simple shapes merged together to create a head. Tape or a custom stencil was most likely created to be able to achieve the washes and gradients that are evident in the image. Colour, or chromo, lithography was most likely used to accurately capture the colour gradients and complexity of the texture. The texture itself helps to communicate the organic inspiration of the main subject matter, as well as the intensifying chaos caused by the character’s exclamation and the surrounding dark void, threatening to swallow up not only what is on the poster but perhaps the viewers themselves.


Reference and Inspiration

Mood and Detail Boards to help with ideation and development:

(images found online and compiled in Photoshop)


These images helped to inform the subject matter and mood/atmosphere of my poster designs.

Poster Inspiration:

(images found online)

These posters helped to inform the design direction that I wanted to take for this assignment.

Font Inspiration:

(images found online)

I was moving towards a more Art Deco tall and elegant styled font, these were some fonts that helped inspire my font exploration.

Colour Reference:

I used Adobe Kuler to help establish colour palettes to inform and inspire my colour exploration and experimentation.



I used the combination of images of the real life architecture in London in conjunction with the design direction of the reference posters that pushed forward a graphical layout to create an engaging clarity. This direction of simplifying the real life architecture using simple shapes and interesting layouts appealed to me, so I decided to explore this further in my own sketches within my sketchbook for this project.

Later on, I decided to experiment with a different direction, this one being more perspective heavy and more traditionally inspired by architecture. I used the reference of the buildings I gathered and compiled earlier to choose my subject matter, settling on using the Elizabeth Tower I moved onto the creation of the poster after gathering some more specific reference.