"Drypoint" is the simplest and most direct technique for etching a design onto a metal plate.

For drypoint, you don't immerse the plate in chemicals. All you need is a metal plate and a sharp point for incising the design. Rembrandt ?created one of his largest prints,?Christ Crucified Between the Two Thieves?, entirely in drypoint. (Click on the title to read more about this extraordinary work, now owned by the Metropolitan Museum.)

Drypoint etching usually produces?darker, richer tones and less distinct lines than chemically "bitten" etching.

The act of drawing a point through the soft metal of the plate creates grooves with edges, like furrows, whereas lines bitten into the plate by chemicals have no raised edge. The drypoint furrows catch the ink and hold it, so that the printed lines appear thicker, darker, and softer.

A demonstration of?the difference between a bitten etch and a combination of bitten and drypoint etch:

I began to make an etching of a basket, but I didn't like the first state, so I set the plate aside and started over on a new plate. ?Here are some states of the chemically etched basket.



?First state



A state from the middle of the process



The last state

Later, I printed it in sepia.


Linens, etching on paper, 4"w x 3"h

I went back to the plate of my first, failed attempt and used it to experiment with drypoint. While this version began as an etching, the lines I made with drypoint were softer and darker.?There is more dramatic contrast between the darks and the lights.



Here is the plate for the etched basket. The etched lines are even and crisp.



Here is the plate for the drypoint basket. I photographed it in raking light, so you can see the raised edges of the incised lines.


I enjoy both of these processes. However, in the end I chose to print the first, chemically?etched plate. For this design, I felt that the crisper lines were more successful.

You can work on a drypoint anywhere.

Two printmakers I know recently visited Alaska, and, while hiking and sightseeing, made beautiful drypoint sketches on little copper plates! However, drypoint has one disadvantage: the?image can only be printed so many times before the furrows at the surface of the plate lose their shape and hold less ink.

When I next set out to do a drypoint etching, I won't be using a discarded plate, so I hope to get a nice result.?I will also make use of the handy technical tips my two printmaker visitors gave me.??Thanks, ladies!


Be?the first to see my new work, videos, and posts.

Scroll down to subscribe to my Newsletter, and receive a thank you gift: ?a free album of my drawings.

Interested in acquiring my work? You will find prices and terms on the?Purchase?page. You can also contact me, I will be happy to assist you.

Being a working artist has its joys and challenges, but, through it all, your support and encouragement sustain me.?Thank you so much for being my audience.


Please comment, and if you like this post, please share it!