Saturday, 5 February 2011

how an aquatint is made on an etching

This is an etching that I've already made, and you can see how that was done here. I want to add an aquatint to the plate.  This gives the plate a kind of rastered effect which I think will add some depth to the scene. The plate is first thoroughly cleaned with turpentine and methylated spirit.

The plate is then dusted with resin dust from the pine tree. The plate is very delicate now. Any imperfections in this layer will be seen in the etching. This layer is burnt onto the plate with a heat source placed under the plate. It then looks like this:

After it's cooled, a spirit varnish layer can be applied to the plate where the raster is not wanted. In this case I would like the sky to remain clear.

The reverse of the plate is protected in the same way as it was when the etching was made and placed in the acid bath. However this time, the exposure to the acid is much reduced. In this case only 4 minutes. The plate is then washed and the blue layer removed with methylated spirit. This is what the plate now looks like:

The plate is ready to be inked in and pulled through the etching press, again just as it was in the previous section:

This is the result:

I also tried sepia ink, which I think I like more and can be seen already in my etsy shop!


  1. So, if there were a variety of colors wanted in the final print, does one need to make up to 3 separate plates as one would do with a color-lith?

  2. Hello Steven (just saw your comment).
    No, the coloured etching inks are applied to the plate before printing. Sometime the colours are applied one by one and printed off between each phase, but this means the paper has to be properly lined up each time! Here's a coloured etching made by someone on our classes: