All Posts · Making and crafting · My Company Projects · Writing and Illustrating

Etching after sketching

I have never etched anything. I haven’t ever really thought about it until reading a book on printing this year. It was a sort of mystery…copper plates, acid, looked complicated. But then I read more and found it could be simplified, if only to practice, try techniques and get a feel for it.


I bought some perspex and a few sharp implements, some good Cranfeild sticky printing ink in sepia as black seemed too harsh, scrappers and clothes and some thickish 300grm paper. All set, I started with my favorite plant….Lords and Ladies. The perspex was squeaky, as I carefully etched the lines in and drove my husband mad, but I finished it, inked it, pushing the ink into the etched lines, then removing the excess ink with a cloth. Then with dampened paper and after much elbow grease, with the back of a spoon, rubbed till I felt all the ink had transferred, I did my reveal! Voila…not bad at all.

First print.
Seaweed with periwinkles.

I liked the embossed edge too. After drying I tinted with coloured pencil and proceeded to do another, this time of sea weed. Same process, but with a little more care. It came out ok, but I felt more care was needed on where I left ink and where I removed it. However the two prints together looked nice. Onto the next one. Thus time sea shells, more care, better control. Although I dud forget my prints woukd be in reverse!

Shells and egg case.

I was really pleased with this. I left just enough ink to still feel etched, but enough clear areas for tinting. It’s a funny sort of medium, with all the scratchy marks, but I think it might lead me somewhere, maybe in combination with my bird illustrating.

Next day my zinc plates came, theory being softer and more control. Well it wasn’t really easier, just less squeaky. πŸ˜• I decided to be a bit more ambitious and illustrated a windmill by a canal. I chose a thin green paper as a test and carefully inked. The reveal was a bit dark but after drying and adding colour, I felt it had the atmosphere I wanted. It needs printing on the thick white paper and I will try that tomorrow.


I have ordered a small Dremmel to assist with detail. Most tools are hard to control by hand, especially curved lines and I have ordered a few more mark making ones too…..a leather hole punch proved great for hatching. My aim is to make up a set of etched plates that I can use for my insect or bird illustrations whenever I need some background detail.

It turned out to be very relaxing too, so when I am a little at a loose end in the evening I can have a fun hour scratching away, getting messy with the gloomy ink and have the anticipation of the ‘reveal’. Highly recommended, not expensive and you get to create tiny masterpieces too! πŸ˜‰πŸ™„

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