Rare Book Room: Illustration Techniques

The Rare Book Room has items of interest to students of history, literature, music, science…almost any discipline.  The illustrations in the RBR books serve as wonderful examples of various techniques of illustration, and serve as examples of some of these techniques for our art students.  Some of our older works illustrate:

  • Woodcuts     (A relief process for illustrations to be printed from the raised surface of wood blocks.  Illustrations are often bold with little fine detail.)

    Emblematum Libellus (1544). Examples of woodcuts.

  • Engraving   (An intaglio process with illustrations printed from a metal plate, or sometimes a wood block, but from an incised surface.  Early engravings were usually done on copper plates; more recently, steel has been used.)

    Porter’s Journal of a voyage to the Pacific Ocean (1815). Example of engraving.


    Daphnis & Chloe (1923). Example of engraving.

  • Stipple Engraving   (Engraving in which the illustration is composed of small dots.
  •  Allows for great detail and shading, and is often used for portraits.)

    Sermon Preached …at the Funeral of the Rev. Alexander Macwhorter (1807). Example of stipple engraving.


  • Etching   (An intaglio process in which the design is bitten into the surface of the plate with acid rather than being incised with a tool.)

    Personal History of David Copperfield (1850). Example of etching.