An etching is an intaglio. This includes all printing techniques whereby the lines are not cut out directly, but a drawing is ‘bitten out’ by acid (this is called etched) in the surface of a metal plate. The surface is first covered with a wax layer that is acid-resistant. An image is drawn on it with an etching needle. The entire plate is then immersed in a corrosive liquid for some time until the exposed lines have been sufficiently etched. For this process I use zinc plates and nitric acid. The drawing is then printed on damp paper.
To apply intermediate shades in different gradations, I can add shading, or lines, dots and the like. During printing a line etching is created. Below are two examples of line etchings.
An aquatint is an etching, in which shades of grey are obtained by covering the plate with resin or asphalt powder that is burned on the plate. The uncovered spaces between the resin beads are etched, the covered space is not. The light shades of grey are obtained by etching for only seconds. The places that must retain this light shade are then covered with an impenetrable lacquer. Darker shades are created by etching the plate for longer. A scale division between the lightest and darkest shade results in various shades of grey.
Examples of Aquatints: the Grande Finale series
Vernis mou is a technique in which soft sticky wax is applied to the plate. A sheet of paper is placed on the plate, on top of which a drawing is made. Due to the pencil pressure, the paper absorbs the wax so that the metal is exposed under the lines of the drawing when the paper is removed. Use of pencils of different hardness give a multitude of shades. As will the use of various types of paper.
Example of Vernis Mou: Winter
A similar technique is dry point, whereby the drawing is scratched into a metal or plastic plate.
Another, older form of the gravure printing technique is engraving. This is a print of an image that has been drawn directly on a metal plate.. I do not practice the method of engraving myself.