Engraving And Etching – How Prints Are Made

Have you ever walked past a print in the school library or in some art gallery and asked yourself how that print was made? Have you often wondered how it was possible to reproduce the artist’s original design so faithfully?

All prints, or printed pictures, are made in one of two ways. First, they may be printed directly from a plate or block or stone in which the artist has himself cut or worked the design. Second, they may be made by some method in which mechanical processes are substituted for the hands of the artist. Some artists make a sketch on paper before they start work on the plate, but many draw directly on the plate.

As the artist works on the plate he pulls proofs from time to time to see how the picture is progressing. Some of these proofs will be rough working proofs, not worth saving. But soon the design will be far enough advanced so that the proofs are artistically significant. Then the artist may pull a number of “artist’s proofs” and even sign his name on the margin of the print. If the artist pulls a number of proofs at one time, at a recognizable stage in the development of the picture, he has established a “state.” These are called “first state,” “second state,” and so on, as changes are made to improve or repair the plate.

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