Printing is the process of reproducing images on paper, often in large industrial quantities. It involves using a frame, a plate, and a printing press. In the West, printing began with Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century. After he invented the printing press, printing became important for the mass communication of text and was viewed as a tool to increase the power of monarchs.

There are two kinds of printing: planographic and relief. Planographic involves printing on a surface, usually paper, while relief involves printing on a hard surface, such as stone. Both methods are repeatable, but the number of good impressions is limited artificially, due to the materials used.

Planographic printing was initially used for printing books and texts. Relief printing was used for art and religious objects. The first known example of relief printing is believed to be found in the thirteenth century, when a printing material was discovered in Turfan, Turkey.

Traditionally, the printing surface is a block of stone, wood, or metal. The images are drawn on the surface and the ink is greasy. Alternatively, a rubber blanket is used to transfer the image to the paper. Various other surfaces can also be used, including fabric and plastic laminates.

Woodcut printing was adopted for printing images on paper in the early fifteenth century. Before that, images were usually printed on objects such as playing cards. These objects were then glued into books. When the printing press was introduced in Western Europe in the 1440s, it was used to print bibles and other religious texts.

Movable type was a system of characters that could be assembled and reassembled to make a page. It was created by Bi Sheng in 1041 during the Song Dynasty of China. While movable type was not widely used in China, it did encourage scholarly pursuits. Later, European style printing presses were introduced and movable type gained popularity.

Since the late nineteenth century, offset printing has become a significant innovation. Originally, the process involved line drawing on a paper to a zinc plate. Eventually, computers were used to control the color register and speed up the process. This technology has been further advanced by using flexible photopolymer printing plates wrapped around rotating cylinders on a web press. Offset lithography is still used for books, newspapers, magazines, and business forms.

Other forms of printing include flexography, intaglio, and offset lithography. Using these techniques, an artist can create subtle ranges of tones. Flexography is a popular form of printing because it can be used to produce long runs of prints.

Traditional printmaking techniques include lithography, engraving, and woodcut. However, modern artists have expanded the range of available printing techniques to include screenprinting.

One of the most popular types of digital printing is the inkjet printer. Unlike traditional printing, inkjet printing does not require the printing of plates. Instead, the images are transferred from a digital image source to the paper. Laser printers are also used for this kind of printing.