Drypoint is a process that does not involve etching with acid but simply scratching the image directly onto the surface of a copper plate with a sharp tool. The tool does not cut away the metal but rather pushes it up into a burr like a plough cutting a furrow in the soil. This gives the line a characteristic soft and blurry appearance. Although it is hard to control flowing curved lines, its immediacy lends itself to spontaneous, expressive imagery.

Associated techniques include mezzotint, where the plate is painstakingly prepared using a special tool to create a surface of tiny burrs which hold a great amount of ink and prints as a velvety black. The imagery is then created, from black to white, by scraping and polishing the rough surface to introduce highlights and amazingly subtle gradations of tone.

Example of a drypoint etching
Bill Woodrow
‘Untitled (Algae)’ 2003

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