Version française English version

Copperplate engraving

The direct or cold techniques bring together the different types of engraving depending on the tool that is used: chisel, metal point, mezzotint.


The method consists of incising a drawing by engraving on a rigid support (copper, steel, zinc...) which when inked leaves it’s imprint on the paper. It is then wiped with a gauze (tarlatan) and the palm of the hand to finish the operation.

The pre-moistened paper is brushed in order to ruffle up the fibres in order to soak up the ink of the etching when under the press.


The chisel has a very sharp diamond shaped steel point that enables a clean incision in the pre-polished copper.

The artist engraves the copper at different depths depending on the desired degree of blackness.

The steady, measured gesture digs into the plate giving a clean line that is immediately recognisable on the engraving.

Metal point

Metal point is an engraving technique on copper using a steel stylet (steel point) or a diamond splinter.

While penetrating the plate, the point makes burrs which retain the ink giving lines an aspect that is less precise than with the chisel.

This very unusual effect with its very deep blacks is much sought after by metal point engravers.

«Manière noire» or mezzotint

Mezzotint is based on the principle of starting with black to reach the light.

To do this, the entire plate is cut with a "cradle" – a tool with a rounded blade used with a pendulum-like movement that gives it a regular structure able to retain the ink.

The drawing appears lighter or darker by crushing the burrs with a scraper or burnisher.

Artists often use several different techniques on the same engraving.

Designed by Okus Pokus - Webdesign & Print