This process combines the use of images and marks from photographic, digital and hand drawn sources with the range of marks and textures offered by the etching process.
A positive of the image on acetate is placed onto a plate covered in photo -emulsion and then exposed to UV light . The image is transferred to the plate, developed with caustic soda and etched in the normal way .
Photo- etch offers a huge range off possibilities both in the design stage using Photoshop for example and also in the etching stage where the whole range of etching methods can be called on to further develop the image.
Photo etch is the process of transferring a design which is on a semi transparent material, to a plate by means of a light sensitive emulsion which also acts as a resist to the etchant.
Transparent positive detail:
Artwork takes the form of a ‘positive’ which ideally is on a transparent material or acetate. This positive is then placed on top of a plate which has the light sensitive emulsion attached to it. Exposed to uv light the emulsion hardens. When the plate is developed, areas not exposed to light wash off. This can then be etched in the traditional way.
Test Strip for a photoetch plate to dfind the best tonal values for the image
Positives: This process has opened out a tremendous range of creative possibilities for the printmaker. The positives can be printed out on ink jet, laser printers and photocopiers. Any source material can be used, photographs, drawings can be processed and resized using computer programmes. These print-outs can be drawn on and scratched into or cut up and re-assembled, the possibilities are endless.
Tru grain transparent drawing film can be used to draw directly using inks /washes/ brush marks/ crayons/ felt pens etc. These marks can be scratched into and rubbed off. Collaged stencils and flat objects can also be used.
One of the obvious advantages is that the artwork survives the process of putting it on the plate and can be re-used if necessary.
Photo etch plate inked a la poupee detail: Y Wyddor: Judith Stoud
Photo etch plate inked a la poupee detail: Atif Khan
Photo etch plate detail: Festival of Muslim Cultures Print Project: Atif Khan
The photopolymer film has been in use industrially in the electronics industry for around 40 years. Printmakers began to see the possibilities of it for plate making in the late 1990’s and there is now a considerable body of work being produced in this way.
Etching and photopolymer intaglio techniques: Colin Gale
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