Drypoint Etching

Key words:

  • ·         Scribe – The needle like instrument used to scratch (etch) the image onto the acetate.
  • ·         Scrim – The hessian material used to rub excess ink off the acetate.
  • ·         Burr – The raised edged formed when a scribe is used to etch the acetate.


You will need:

·         Scribe

·         Acetate

·         Scrim

·         Gloves

·         Apron

·         Ink

·         Printing paper

·         Clean newsprint

·         Etching press



Different types of line create different effects. Dark lines can be produced by pressing hard with the scribe and scratching a deep line. Faint lines can be produced by pressing lightly and scratching a shallow line.


By using different lines you can create different textures.

Try experimenting with

·         Short abrupt lines

·         Long smooth lines

·         Close intense lines

·         Dispersed sporadic lines

·         Curved lines

·         Rough cross hatching

·         Precise straight lines


Tone in drypoint etching is created by line. The more lines you have closer together the darker the tone will be. The amount of ink applied to acetate also affects the tone.


How to make a Drypoint Etching.

1.       Using a scribe, etch your image onto the acetate.

2.       With gloves on, use a piece of cardboard to scrape a small amount of ink over the etched lines.

3.       Using the scrim, rub off any excess ink.

4.       Cut the printing paper to the size you want, and then run it under the tap until soft and flimsy. Blot off any excess water with clean newsprint.

5.       Place the printing paper between the two layers of wadding in the printing press. Place your etching ink side down on top of the paper. Then run through the press!


 Technique Tips

Type of line – Make sure the pressure put on the scribe is correct the effect you want. Remember that more pressure makes a darker line. Lines close together create a darker tone.

A clean print –The non etched part of your acetate should be almost clean from ink to create a clean and clear print.

Preserving the burr – When wiping off the excess ink with the scrim, don’t rub too hard as the burrs are fragile. Damaging the burr will damage your lines and your print.



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