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Woodblock prints

Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns until 19th century, widely used throughout East Asia, originating in China. The earliest surviving examples date to before 220. Ukiyo-e is the best known type of Japanese woodblock art print.

The woodblock print begins with a drawing, which is transferred in reverse onto the block. Areas in the transferred drawing that the artist does not want to print, are carefully carved out of the wooden block using a variety of tools. The block is then rolled with ink and brought into firm and even contact with the paper or cloth to achieve an acceptable print. The content would of course print in reverse or mirror-image, a further complication when text is involved. For colour printing, multiple blocks are used, each for one colour, although overprinting two colours may produce further colours on the print.