Drypoint Etching Workshop

Drypoint is an intaglio printmaking method that involves scratching an image into a plate with a pointed tool. These lines create a groove that holds the ink, meaning that the print reveals the drawing when pressed. Intaglio printmaking is the opposite of relief printmaking as it is the sunken areas of the plate that print rather than the raised areas that make the finished print.

Equipment List:

  • Etching plate
  • Etching Tools
  • Safety Gloves
  • Fabriano (special paper that absorbs the ink better that ordinary paper)
  • Printing Press

Health & Safety:

  • If you have allergies wear safety gloves
  • Tie hair up
  • no dangling jewelry
  • use both hands with the printing press
  • keep your work area tidy and clean


img_07191. Sketch a design for your print. Once you have etched the design onto the plate, it cannot be erased without sanding down the entire plate, so plan out your artwork on paper first.

2.  Collect etching plate metal,plastic etc. Begin etching with a sharp etching tool. You can scratch, scrape, puncture and use other techniques to create your image


3. Ink the plate. place a small amount of ink onto you plate, then use the metal scraper or tissue to spread it over the etching plate making sure you have covered all the etched grooves.

4. Wipe the inked plate with tissue to remove the ink from the surface of the plate. The ink will remain in the portions you etched.

5. Soak the Fabriano in water and leave them to dry then run your inked plate through the print press to make your print.

The four prints above I feel came out the clearest however with the ones that didn’t I will use them to work into the ones that did. I kept the detail on the butterflies simple as I wanted to work into them with a number of medias.


To get this effect I left a small bit of ink on the surface of the plate giving the effect shading.

The whole process didn’t take very long, however, if one of the stages wasn’t done correctly it will effect your final print. I found that the prints that came out unclear are the ones I rushed, because of this I will use them to manipulate my other, more clearer prints.

I feel that because I did a large quantity of prints I had unneeded prints left over I decided to use these to experiment with before working back into my final prints. I think this worked well as I could see colour themes and what was the most affective lay out.

Some of my prints came out half printed as the press had been altered accidentally so the pressure was uneven. I also tried printing on different papers and I found that the papers with more of a waxy texture such as tracing paper, came out unclear and smudged.

I enjoyed the process as it is very similar to illustration, however, when etching the plate you had to put a lot of pressure on so that the marks came out more defined which I struggled with as I found it made your hand ache after a while.

Over all I was pleased with my final outcome and really enjoyed the process. Although I already knew this printing technique it was a good opportunity to refine and experiment in more detail.


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