Drypoint: Intaglio Printmaking

See step by step how to do a drypoint, a non acid intaglio printmaking technique where an etching needle is used to etch directly into a copper plate.

51 min. video

This video demos techniques like beveling plates, how to set up a press for a home studio, drawing on a copper plate with an etching needle, wiping with a tarlatan, proofing, and creating an edition. Demo by Art Prof Clara Lieu.

Materials like printmaking ink options, metal polishes, copper and zinc plates, ink additives like magnesium carbonate and plate oil, etching tools including a burnisher, scraper, and etching needles are explained.

Intaglio Printmaking: Drypoint

Video Walkthrough

  • Drypoint is a great entry point to intaglio printmaking, it does not use acid and is very close to drawing.
  • Drypoint produces a velvety, lush black line due to the burr created by the etching needle.
  • You’re limited to about 25 prints for each drypoint plate, the burr wears down as you print more and therefore the image degrades.
  • You can make drypoints with zinc and copper plates.
  • Copper plates tend to be more durable than zinc, although a copper plate costs more.
  • People use plexiglass for drypoints, but these aren’t nearly as durable as a copper plate.
  • The darkness of a drypoint line depends on the physical pressure from the etching needle.
  • Make sure to take plenty of breaks when drawing a drypoint, your hand will cramp up from needing to press down hard.
  • Preparing a plate involves beveling all 4 sides and also polishing the plate.
  • Setting up a small scale press for a home studio is a lot more convenient than paying for time at a local printshop.
  • Making changes to your plate after proofing gets tricky as your print is the reverse image of your plate image.
  • The proofing process isn’t linear, and it’s common to have to do lots of bad prints before you get your plate to where you want it to be.
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