The technique of Aquatint

About Aquatint

Aquatint is a variant of etching. Like etching, Aquatint uses the application of acid to make marks in the metal plate. Where the etching technique uses a needle to make lines that print in black (or whatever colour ink is used), aquatint uses acid resistant ,powdered resin in the ground, to create a tonal effect. The tonal variation is controlled by the level of acid exposure over large areas, and thus the image is shaped by large sections at a time.

The aquatint technique is based on an etching process. “This is also what the name wants to say: the dark plate tone (tinta) is produced by the acid (aqua fortis).” As the second surface technique in intaglio printing after mezzotint, it was invented between 1765 and 1768 by Jean Baptiste Leprince. In many cases, the aquatint process is combined with the line etching of etching. The graphics executed in the aquatint process resemble washed ink drawings.

The aquatint technique was brought to perfection by artists such as Francisco de Goya and Wilhelm von Kobell around 1800. In the 20th century, artists such as Otto Dix, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso used it intensively. Goya used aquatint for most of his prints.

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