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Printmaking Definitions



An intaglio print or etching and printing demo
Screen Collograph and Process and the plates
Relief Printing

More Intaglio Definitions - dry point, engraving etc.


Intaglio type press
Intaglio printing press...

An Intaglio Print or etching:

The intaglio printmaking is a technique whereby a metal plate, often copper or zinc, is covered with an acid resist, made out of a material similar to asphalt. The edge of the plate is beveled and polished so it doesn't cut the paper when printing. 

Images are scratched into the plate, through the acid resist exposing the metal, which is then placed in a bath of acid and water. 

The acid bites down into the open areas making grooves which hold ink. The plate is then completely cleaned off, and a printing proof is ready to be pulled. 

Top of the pageInking the intaglio plate:

The clean plate is then spread with ink that is carbon based blended with linseed oil (finely ground so it is smooth and silky). The black ink ranges from a cool blue (plant based carbon) to a warm tone which is animal based. Inking is done on either a warm hot plate or at room temperature. 

Once ink is spread onto the plate and the surface area wiped off, the beveled edges cleaned, then the plate is then ready for printing. See inking the plate to the right of this text.

The fully inked metal plate is then placed on a large steel press bed on a piece of dry paper. Then a moist piece of material, often rag or acid-free paper is placed over the plate.

Thin wool felt blankets of varying widths are then placed over the plate & paper, and the whole bed is fed and/or rolled through the Intaglio press, pushing the moist paper into the grooves, transferring the ink to the paper.

The printed image then appears in reverse on the moist paper, which is then lightly pressed or hung to dry.

A la poupée

A single plate is selectively inked in different colors, using stumps of rag known as a “poupée.”

Top of the pageScreen Collograph

Instead of metal, a paper-based matte board is used as a plate, allowing for work in a larger format. The board is first water-proofed on both sides with acrylic medium, then a silkscreen type of fabric is glued onto the front of the plate. The edges can be lightly beveled. 

Fine grooves which hold ink are created by the fabric itself and if printed as such, it will appear as a flat black ground. 

Manitoba Printmaker's association studio area
Collograph print on fabric with acrylic
collograph plates
Example of some of my collograph plates (left) & prints (below):

Laptop, Colour Screen Collograph Print

To create areas of white, an image is slowly developed on the board by applying layers of acrylic medium. The plate is then printed using the intaglio printing process on an intaglio press (More on process, and the plates)


Self Portrait, drypoint process

Self portrait, 1978
Drypoint on paper

an example of one of my copper plate etchings from the One-eyed women series

One of my copper plate etchings from the One-eyed women series

Drawing with a sharp instrument directly into a shiny copper plate, a burr is raised, which when inking and wiping the plate to take a print or proof, catches the ink and thus a soft fuzzy line is created. This raised or drypoint line breaks down easily after a few printings. This is often a great process if making a small edition, or a means to create a sense of immediacy.

Top of the page

Inking the intaglio plate:

Inking the plate

1) Inking the copper plate; pushing the ink into the grooves.

Wiping Excess Ink off the Plate

2) Wiping the plate with a piece of starchy cheesecloth called tartleton.

The final paper wipe for sharper whites

3) Further wiping of the plate with a piece of paper  to pull up the whites.

4) The plate is laid on the press bed, then the paper carefully laid on top.

Paper, Wool Blanket covering the plate

5) The plate and paper is hen covered with the felt blankets and then rolled through the press. 

Paper lifted after going through the Press

6) After the felt blankets are removed, the paper is lifted from the plate revealing a mirror image of the drawing on the plate.

Most images above are from the Donald Staff, Deli Sacilotto book entitled, "Printmaking"

Designed by Gisele Beaupre ©


Doreen Beaupre

Contact: gbeaupre@shaw.ca