Carbon Transfer Printing: A Step-by-Step Manual, Featuring Contemporary Carbon Printers and Their Creative Practice, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Carbon Transfer Printing

A Step-by-Step Manual, Featuring Contemporary Carbon Printers and Their Creative Practice, 1st Edition

By Sandy King, Don Nelson, John Lockhart

Focal Press

266 pages | 179 Color Illus. | 2 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-09-30
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Carbon Transfer Printing is a book about one of the earliest photographic processes that provided the first permanent printing methods, available in one form or another for over 150 years. This book reviews the extensive history of carbon transfer and related pigment processes in both monochrome and color, to serve as point source for a new carbon printer to begin to master the craft of carbon printing, as well as provide new material for experienced carbon printers so they can expand their techniques. The book includes never-before-published information on pre-sensitizing carbon tissue with newly identified compounds, information on the safe use and disposal of hexavalent chromium compounds, and simplified methods of producing 3-color carbon prints.

Carbon Transfer Printing is divided into two parts, illustrated with 175 photographs. Part One is a complete how-to on the carbon transfer process, from simple to complex, with a troubleshooting guide and an extensive chapter on digital negatives. Part Two is devoted to contemporary carbon printers who share their methods and secrets to creating their beautiful carbon prints.

Topics that the book covers are:

  • Key events in carbon’s history
  • How to organize the carbon workplace
  • Sections on necessary supplies and equipment
  • A step-by-step digital method of making high quality digital negatives
  • Simple and advanced methods of carbon printing
  • How to make carbon tissue, including several methods of pre-sensitizing
  • How to choose UV light sources for printing in carbon
  • Step-by-step processing directions
  • How to prepare final support papers
  • Troubleshooting carbon
  • Multi-layer printing to add tone, or make a full color carbon print
  • Finishing and final presentation of carbon prints
  • A gallery of images and advice from contemporary carbon printers

Carbon Transfer Printing is designed for both the beginning carbon enthusiast as well as for the advanced practitioner. Backed with extensive research on carbon printing from books, journals, and magazine articles from the 1800s to present day, and the extensive personal experience in carbon printing of the authors, there is enough information in this book to provide inspiration and proof of both the glorious past of carbon printmaking and its enduring importance to a new generation of image makers who value the handmade print.


"Will be a sought-after reference for carbon printers at all levels, but also collectors, gallerists, curators, and anyone with a keen interest in the history and practice of carbon printing. The book is intelligible and comprehensive on the topic of monochrome carbon transfer; the chapter on color is an added bonus. Carbon transfer can be a daunting undertaking, but the writing exudes good sense, informed by expertise and craftsmanship."

Philip Schwartz, Carbon Transfer Printmaker

"This is a welcome addition to the world of carbon transfer. After printing carbon transfers for more than 14 years I was delighted to discover thought-provoking information and more carbon related issues for me to research. Thank you Sandy King, Don Nelson, and John Lockhart for an amazing epic publication."

Ellie Young, Founder, Gold Street Studios

"The authors of Carbon Transfer Printing have brought extensive personal expertise and knowledge to this publication. This guide to an exquisitely detailed photographic process will provide the photographic artist with a practical means to achieve success. The numerous examples of current printers are an inspiration."

Gary Baker, Carbon Transfer Printer

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Chapter 1

History of the Carbon Transfer Process

Chapter 2

Overview, and Making Your First Carbon Transfer Print

Chapter 3

Supplies and Materials

Chapter 4

The Working Environment

Chapter 5

Negatives for Carbon Printing

Chapter 6

Making Supports for Single and Double Transfer Carbon Printing

Chapter 7

Making Carbon Tissue

Chapter 8

Basic Working Procedures for Single Carbon

Chapter 9

Multilayer Transfer Carbon

Chapter 10

Color Carbon

Chapter 11

Alternative Materials and Working Methods with the Carbon Process

Chapter 12

Finishing the print


Contemporary Carbon Transfer Artists

Chapter 13

Artists and Their Creative Practice

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C



About the Authors

Sandy King has been a fine art photographer since the early 1970s, printing with carbon transfer, kallitype, platinum/palladium and Van Dyke. For over two decades, King has devoted much of his time to carbon printing with publication of personal work in Photovision, Silvershotz and View Camera, conducting carbon printing workshops, and author of numerous publications. To see his work, visit

Don Nelson has been a large format photographer since 1976, using 8x10, 7x17, and 12x20 inch cameras. Nelson has been an alternative process printer for the past three decades, using primarily carbon and platinum/palladium since 1991, although he has experimented with most alternative processes.

John Lockhart was inspired by the platinum work of Paul Outerbridge which led him to handcrafted printmaking and ultimately carbon transfer. In his work, Lockhart combines the authenticity and immediacy of documentary and street photography with a painstaking approach to printing each image as a handcrafted artifact. Lockhart is also involved in preserving, evolving, and teaching the craft. To see his work, visit

About the Series

Contemporary Practices in Alternative Process Photography

The Contemporary Practices in Alternative Process Photography series focuses the lens on a variety of alternative, historical processes from the medium’s 180-year history. Each book outlines a step-by-step approach to a particular medium, and features contemporary artists who use that particular process regularly in their practice. The richly illustrated books in this series serve as guidebooks for those new to alternative processes, refresher courses for professionals already familiar with each medium, and a source of inspiration for all.

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