I've found a graphic style, which ...

  • looks "retro" (maybe around 1900?)
  • is only "filled" with lines, so looks a bit like a hand-drawn technical drawing
  • and seems to be quite modern (e.g. for graphical nonfictions)

Just have a look at these examples:

How is this style called and what is a good source for such SVGs?

  • These could be described as woodcut prints, or lino cut prints. Search for those terms on a stock art website.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 19:35
  • @BillyKerr though somewhat similar, there are key differences in technique that would lend these to be more likely engraving. (The main giveaway being the cross-hatch technique for shading, which is fairly easy to do with engraving, rather difficult with relief printing)
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 19:44
  • @DA01 - I agree, quite possibly, particularly with the cross hatching on the hand, but the hat could still be a woodcut however.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 19:51
  • @BillyKerr The hat definitely could be, though I'd argue woodcuts tend to be known for being more angular in their lines and having sharper points. These all look like enlarged (and auto-traced) engravings lending to the extremely rounded points.
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 19:54
  • @DA01 - yeah you're right, autotracing could indeed cause that. I find it somewhat amusing the OP thinks this is vintage/retro 1900, and doesn't quite realise how old such printmaking is.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 20:38

4 Answers 4


That's wood cut block printing.

With wood block printing, the negative parts of the images are carved away. With engraving, the positive parts of the images are carved away.

Woodcut or block printing uses light relief carved into a surface, dipped in ink and stamped on paper.

Knowing that you can begin to see the chisel marks and rough surface.

  • You are describing wood cut correctly, but that's the opposite of engraving. With engraving, you carve away the positive parts of the illustration, which then 'hold' the ink and transfer to the paper.
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 18:50
  • engravings can be inked as positive or negative, and the exact inking and engraving method depends on the press (e.g. intaglio vs letterpress); but I gave an upvote because the two images linked are, in fact, woodblock.
    – Yorik
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 19:31
  • @Yorik mmm...I don't think so. You wouldn't normally use the cross-cut/hatching technique with wood carving (it's impractical). It's much more of an engraving technique. You are correct that, generically speaking, an 'engraving' is just removing material, so you could call wood block carving a form of engraving, but in the particular context of graphic arts and printing, it pretty much refers to the negative process.
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 19:42
  • Webster...I think the edit may have confused things. To clarify, with wood block printing, the negative parts of the images are carved away. With engraving, the positive parts of the images are carved away.
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 19:46
  • @DA01: the images linked have the hallmarks of a curved woodblock tool, at least as I read it. In any event I certainly agree that letterpress manicules (one of my favorite words; also called "indexes") can be done in metal or wood. (check out "wood block manicule hamilton wood type" on google images)
    – Yorik
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 21:10

You can replicate this effect from any photo although you may have to clean up your photo first (make it greyscale and high in contrast). I have been using this plug in for years: http://andromeda.com/wordpress/individual-products/cutline. I think it's free for 2 weeks.

It offers all sorts of half-toning, engraving, crosshatching, etc etc.

Don't forget that if this plugin helps you, come back here and reward me some points! ;)

  • 1
    Thanks, but this specific tool won't be helpful to me, since I don't have Photoshop. But I will see if I can find a similar way to do it in GIMP, so thanks for the idea ... :) Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 19:02

As others have stated, it's an engraving. Which is a physical technique first and foremost (and, of course, later adopted as a style for non-engraving situations).

Engraving works by etching or carving away the surface of a (typically metal) plate. The ink is trapped in these recessed areas, and that is in turn applied to the paper. This is why engraved printing, such as US Currency, has a raised feel to the ink.

With engraving, the positive parts of the image are what are carved away from the printing substrate. This is opposed to wood cut or lino cut art, where you carve away the negative parts of the image.

As for 'era' this was widespread pre and turn of the century. One place to obtain copious amounts of stock art in this style are the Dover Stock Art books.

The technology and technique of engraving predates the 1900s by a few centuries (originating in roughly 1400s Germany) but in terms of contemporary graphic design, it definitely tends to have a 'turn of the century' feel given that it was in almost universal use for mass produced printing (such as catalogs and newspapers and the like) which correlated to the start of the consumer-driven era (hence a lot of art was created to "sell stuff") and a massive amount of it was produced during that era, much of which was later collected and compiled into stock art collections such as the aforementioned Dover which gave the art and style a prolonged life.


The style is known as engraving or steel plate printing.

The "filled" lines are the raised parts of the art piece. A good example is the art for US Currency.

As to where to find SVGs there are a lot of free vector and stock sites for you to search. Freepik is a good resource for example.

  • This is incorrect. Engraving creates a 'negative' plate meaning the recessed parts of the plate are the part that actually creates the positive image on the paper.
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 18:51

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