The Process of Illustration
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Who Creates an Illustration?

Publishers may have pictures created specifically for publication or to reproduce another artwork, such as a painting. Authors may illustrate their own publications. Early books required many people to produce the illustrations, including designers, transfer artists, block cutters or engravers, printers, and colorists. Until the early 20th century, wood engravers prepared hundreds of blocks to provide illustrations to be printed directly with the text.

Illustrations of plants drawn from nature became particularly important for botanical study, allowing for the comparison of species from different regions and the establishment of uniform nomenclature.

About this book:
De Historia Stirpium Commentarii Insignes (On the History of Plant Stocks)
Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566)
Designed by H. Füllmaurer and A. Meyer
Basel: In officina Insingriniana, 1542
Gift of the Burndy Library

About the image above: These identified images of the designer and transfer artist represent an early acknowledgment of the illustrators’important role.

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About this book:
Handbook of Wood Engraving
William Emerson
Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1881

About the image on the left: Engraver at work

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About this image:
Intaglio printer’s shop, from A. Bosse’s treatise on engraving, France, 1645. Courtesy of the Graphic Arts Collection, National Museum of American History.

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About this image:
Lithographic printing shop of Wagner & McGuigan, Philadelphia, about 1850. Courtesy of the Harry T. Peters Collection, Division of Home and Community Life, National Museum of American History.

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