How To Define Heliograph And What Are Heliographics

If you want to define heliograph or know what is heliographics, it is the art of creating your own unique patterned paper for your scrapbook layouts or paper for any other use you may find.

Heliograph technique can sometimes be confused by some for Alcohol Inking, but this is a totally separate art form.

If you want to define heliograph technique, it was inspired by South Sea Island inhabitants, who create their own amazing patterned fabrics by using paint, flowers, leaves, shells and the power of the sun to bleach.define heliograph

Here we are going to explore how you can create your own unique paper below.

Let’s Make Our Own Heliographics

Here is a way for you to recreate this technique on paper using a sun lamp.

Here is a list of the materials that you will need to create your unique masterpiece and define heliograph in your own way:

Plastic sheets to protect your work surface
Bowl for mixing your paint
Brushes or sponge
Templates (cut-outs of your design e.g. leaves flowers etc.)
White or colored card
Translucent Fabric Paint
A good source of light e.g. sun, sun lamp or sunny window ledge.


  1. Prepare your paints in your bowl/s by mixing one part paint with two parts water.
  2. Wet your card under a running tap so that it is wet on both sides.
  3. Lay the card on the plastic sheet and apply the paint generously covering the page. The card should be very saturated with paint.
  4. Press the templates that you want to use firmly down on the paint, making sure that they are in contact with the card. If you are using paper or card cut-outs, soak them in water first to make them heavier.
  5. Turn on the lamp if using one and make sure that there are no shadows between the lamp and the card. For safety sake, the lamp should be at least nine inches away from the card and never leave it on unattended.define heliograph

Make sure that the templates are only lifted off the card once the paint is completely dry, or the shapes will not show. To be safe once you think the paper is dry, wait a further half hour before removing the templates.

You should now have a piece of dyed card stock with negative effects where the templates were. They will vary from light to dark, depending on the strength of the lamp, and will add interest to your design and make it unique.

Another interesting idea is to sprinkle rock salt onto the card instead of using templates. This will create rings of different shades of color.

When using templates, anything can be used from seashells, buttons, dried leaves or even metallic emblems, as seen below.

define heliograph

You can use the whole of the dyed paper as a background for your layout, or even to frame your photo’s. Very attractive cards can also be made using this technique.

Have fun with this and be creative. You have now learned how to define heliographic and the art of heliographic painting.

If you want to learn about heliographic Art in more detail, here is a book you can purchase online that will help.

Modern Heliographic Processes: A Manual of Instruction in the Art of Reproducing Drawings, Engravings, Manuscripts, Etc., by the Action of Light; for … Draughtsmen, Artists, and Scientists

This book is intended for the use of engineers and draughtsmen, who are so frequently in need of a good process for reproducing their drawings.

After a brief theoretical introduction on the chemical and physical action of light, the author classifies the processes using salts of silver, iron salts, salts of chromium, and salts of uranium.

There are practical instructions in regard to the paper to be used, the methods of sensitizing, and the trays and dishes needed.

The first thousand copies of the book are accompanied by ten specimens of heliographic prints, among which the uranium and carbon prints deserve special mention.

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