Textures in Aquatint


Aquatint, which is an intaglio printmaking technique (generally in copper or zinc) is used to add tonal quality to a composition.  Instead of using lines, like it is done in straightforward etching, aquatint provides the ability to give prints “grayscale”.  While it was often used in black and white printmaking, it really came to life as a technique in color printmaking.  It remains today, for those inclined to create “painterly” prints, a technique of choice.

Personally, what attracts me to aquatint, is the texture.  Not only are the colors, or black, saturated; the overall compositions also feels fare more dimensional than it is in lithography, or with a silkscreen.  The fact that the plate embosses the sheet, and that the ink is raised above the surface of the paper, lends aquatints a strength that cannot be replicated in most printmaking techniques.  It is, in that sense, comparable to strong woodcuts, which will also emboss the paper, and leave clear traces of the matrix used to create the image.

I enlarged a few aquatints, for close inspection.  Note the “dots”, or ink “puddles”.  The latticework of the resin, which is cooked onto the plate before being etched, is very discernible; and its dimensionality is eye-catching.

While there are a few informative videos online showing what aquatint really is, I find that nothing completely satisfies my curiosity.  In the end, Wikipedia’s entry is still the most informative, in my opinion.

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