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Intaglio - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Intaglio. Materials. Metal Plate. Intaglio is where the image is created on a metal plate. The material is usually copper or zinc, as those metals are softer to carve, and take well to etching.

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metal plate
Metal Plate

Intaglio is where the image is created on a metal plate. The material is usually copper or zinc, as those metals are softer to carve, and take well to etching.

The metal should be buffed and cleaned before any design is carved into the metal. This improves the overall appearance, and helps the artist maintain control of the quality of the marks.

engraving tools
Engraving Tools

A scribe is a thin metal drawing tool used for outlining and creating dry point marks on the surface of the metal.

An engraver is a very sharp tool that is used to carve into the metal and lift excess material away from the surface. This tool requires a lot of control as it can cut fairly deep and may sometimes slip out of place and scratch up the surface.

The burnisher is a polished piece of steel that is rubbed across the surface to smooth raised areas and remove burrs created by the engraver.


Ground is a solution that is painted over the surface of the plate to act as a resist to acid. It’s available in different consistencies (soft and hard) to create unique line qualities.

The ground is available in either a liquid or a solid state. The liquid version is painted on and dried. The solid blocks of ground must be gently melted on the plate and spread with a brayer.

Once a solid layer of ground is placed on the surface, the artist can go back in with a scribe or other tool and scrape areas away. Any exposed metal will be eaten by the acid bath, while the ground will protect the rest of the surface.

The ground is removed after an acid bath and before printing, using acetone then soap and water.

other resists
Other Resists

A variety of effects can be created using different resists.

Aquatint is a printing effect created by either spray paint or a special aquatint resin. The speckled areas that are covered by these materials will protect the metal, and any surrounding areas will be etched by the acid. This helps create different shades or values in the image.

There are also other acid resistant solutions that can be delicately painted into areas that work similarly to ground.

acid bath
Acid Bath

After the image is prepared, the plate must go in an acid bath.

The plate may take a range from 5 minutes, to hours in the bath, depending on how deep the artist wants the grooves.

The acid is highly corrosive, so protective wear is mandatory. Face guards, rubber aprons and gloves are required when working with this material.

The metal sheet is removed and rinsed off with water.


Intaglio ink is different from others in that it has a thicker consistency so that it can be worked into a surface.

The inks come in a variety of colors and can be applied in different stages of the print, or blended together.

The ink is first worked into a smooth consistency by using a paint scraper on a sheet of Plexiglas, then applied with a stiff cardboard, or a brayer.

application materials
Application Materials

The ink is originally spread onto a sheet of Plexiglas to ensure the smoothness of the ink.

The ink is then gathered on the edge of a piece of cardstock and scraped across the surface of the plate. The ink should be spread in several directions to ensure that all of the recessed areas received ink.

After the ink has been worked into the grooves, the rest of the surface is cleaned off with tarlatan (a type of cheesecloth) and wiped clean.


The etching press is an important piece of equipment, as it ensures that all of the marks made on the plate are properly transferred onto the paper.

The press provides strong pressure to force the damp paper into the grooves of the plate, allowing it to receive the ink, and create an embossed effect.

A large sink is also useful so that large pieces of paper may be soaked before they are printed.