This intaglio printmaking technique is often used to create gradations of wash-like tones. First, heat is used to adhere a powdered resin ground to the surface of a metal printing plate. The plate is then placed in an acid bath that eats away at the areas around each resin particle, creating a pitted, grainy surface. When the plate is inked and wiped, these tiny depressions retain ink, producing a subtle granular tone in the finished print. The resin particles can be of varying fineness: large particles result in a granular texture visible to the eye, while small ones produce a film of tone that closely resembles an ink or watercolor wash. The areas of tone can also vary in darkness according to how deeply the surface is bitten by the acid; the deeper the depressions the more ink they will hold.
In this intaglio technique, the image is scratched into a metal plate with a hard, sharp metal or diamond point. As the drypoint needle is pulled across the surface of the plate, tiny bits of metal (called "burr") are displaced and thrown up on either side of the incised line. When the drypoint plate is inked for printing, these tiny bits of metal retain ink so that the incised lines print with velvety or blurred rather than clean, crisp edges. However, the fragile burr becomes compressed fairly quickly after several runs through the printing press. As it flattens, the burr becomes less pronounced, so that the initial rich, velvety line is lost to a sharper one. Thus drypoints are usually printed in small editions.
Engraving is an intaglio method of printmaking in which lines are incised into a hard flat surface (usually a metal plate) with a sharp tool called a burin. The burin creates a deep, v-shaped groove in the plate, and the curls of metal displaced on either side of the groove are cleared away with a scraper, so that lines print with clean, sharp edges. Cross-hatching or parallel hatching lines are typically used for shading. The burin can also be maneuvered to create wider or narrower lines that hold more or less ink and thus appear heavy and dark or fine and light when printed. Engraving was first used for embellishing armor and decorative objects and was later developed for printmaking in Germany in the early 15th century.
In etching, a metal plate usually made of copper, zinc, or steel is coated with a varnish-like substance (known as the "ground") that is impervious to acid. The artist creates an image by drawing through the ground with an etching needle, exposing the bare metal underneath. The plate is then immersed in acid, which eats into the exposed metal areas, producing grooves that will hold the ink (the longer the plate is immersed in acid, the deeper the lines will be and the more ink they will hold). The ground is removed; and the plate is ready to be inked and printed. Etched lines are typically blunt at the ends, since they are created by the acid's biting into the surface of the plate, while engraved lines taper at the ends, reflecting the v-shape of the burin tool..
Various terms have been used for prints made using digital technologies: Giclée, Iris, ink-jet, laser, etc. Typically, a stream of archival dye-based ink is sprayed onto art paper or canvas. Under magnification, the effect has a similar appearance to an airbrush technique, but produces a much finer level of detail. Exact calculations of hue, value and density are programmed into the printer by an artist or computer operator, thus producing a dynamic range of colors.
This is a general category of printing technique where the image is incised into a surface, usually a metal plate made of copper or zinc. Incisions may be created by etching, engraving, drypoint, or mezzotint techniques. Sometimes, these processes are combined on a single plate to achieve a desired effect. To print an intaglio plate, the surface is covered in thick ink and rubbed with tarlatan cloth or newspaper, leaving ink only in the incised lines. A dampened sheet of paper is placed on top of the plate, which is then run through a printing press to transfer the ink from the recesses of the plate to the paper.