This site has not been updated since May 2004. In the rapidly developing world of digital printing, this is a very long time! In consequence, the information found on this website is out of date and may not be accurate, and should be treated with caution.

Process Database (1)

Read the explanations below, or go directly to the Process Listings.

This is a listing of the individual characteristics of prints of different processes. Some analog and many digital processes are described. It should be remembered that prints and processes mentioned and illustrated here are merely examples for each process and that actual prints can vary greatly in their characteristics.

The process database is designed to be updated as new print technologies and materials appear on the market and more information is gathered on the existing and obsolete ones. For this purpose, feedback and updates are highly encouraged! Some parts of the individual process descriptions have not yet been researched and are marked with the link Contribute to this category!.

For this identification guide, it was regarded as practical to use magnifications of a print area that included a human eye, with the goal of following the precedence and facilitating comparisons to the images of the processes described in James Reilly's "Care and Identification of 19th Century Photographic Prints". Reilly's choice of an eye as a motive for his comparative images incorporates a complete tonal scale from the shadows to highlights and consists of an image we can all relate to.

How to use the Process Database:

TIP: to compare characteristics and photomicrographs, open each link you are interested in below in a new window (Macintosh: click and hold on the link until the menu pops up, then select option; Windows: click with the right button and select option from pop-up window). Some photomicrographs can be clicked to open a larger version of the image.

Each entry in the Process Database contains the name of the category of printing process, an image of a magnified area of a sample print, and a list of standard categories to describe the aspects of the process and of the prints. These are:

Other Given Names: any common names other than the category of printing process that have been given to the process or its prints

Dates: beginning (and end) of the use of the printing process

Colorant: type of colorant used

Medium: types of medium commonly used

Surface: description of the surface characteristics

Inscriptions: manufacturers logos or names usually found on the print verso

Formats: typical range of formats of paper used for the process

Image Quality: description of the image quality: halftone, contone, or continuous tone, and image pattern and resolution

Applications: use of the process