The Mezzotint

Mezzotint is an Intaglio process. The ink sits in recesses that have been cut into the plate by various means. The image is lifted off the plate in a special high-pressure press

Most people are more familiar with relief printing where the ink sits on the raised areas of a plate - as in linocuts and woodcuts.

In intaglio printing the image is either chemically etched into the plate or mechanically cut. Mezzotint is a mechanical process. The plate is textured using a rocker tool. My home made rocker tool can be seen above the spoon at right. Hundreds of passes need to be made over the plate to create the right texture.
At this stage the plate will print a pure black. To create the lighter areas of an image the texture is burnished or scaped back.
Fine black lines can be cut into the plate with a drypoint tool.


I burnish with a spoon, and scrape with a ground down triangular file. I use a centre punch as a drypoint tool. One can buy all these tools, but I like to make my own.
The plate you see here is almost ready for the final edition to be printed. The final highlights need to be scraped out, and some fine black linework added with the drypoint tool.