Drypoint Printmaking for Beginners

Keep the tradition alive, popularised by the most well-loved Masters

Creativity 5 min read Feb 06, 2020

If you like to draw, you’re going to love this technique: drypoint printmaking.

Drypoint can be easier to master than other Intaglio techniques like engraving. This is because the artist creates with a needle, and you simply need to hold it like a pen or pencil and just start to create your drawing.

Artisans have been using drypoint printmaking to make art, dating back to the 15th century. With a needle-like tool, they would recreate images using a copperplate sheet - a lot like modern-day photocopying. Francisco Goya and Rembrandt are just two of the Masters known to employ it.

How Drypoint Works

First, the artist incises an image onto a sheet and fills in the crevices of the slate with ink. This works as the stencil. In many ways, drypoint is almost identical to engraving, except for the tools utilised. Engraving uses burin, an incision tool that is thicker and heavier than a needle.

Traditionally, drypoint is done on a copper sheet using a diamond-tipped needle. Today, drypoint artists typically use sheets made of acetate, plexiglass, or zinc as opposed to the traditional copperplate setup, which is rarer to come by.

Drypoint can also be made using drypoint card, which you can get at a local specialty store, or any card laminated on one side, such as a card from a cereal box. A nail or other random sharp implement can also be used as an alternative to make the drawing.

Once a piece is drawn, the sheet is then plastered with inked and cleaned, leaving ink only in the crevices.

After that, a piece of paper is stacked on top of the sheet and a printing press is used to transfer the ink onto the paper. This step is necessary to apply enough pressure to squeeze out the remaining ink and transfer the image onto the paper. This cannot be applied solely by hand, although a rolling pin might be able to do it.

Learn Drypoint Printmaking at Jax Studio

Jax Studio Melbourne in Collingwood hosts printmaking classes for all skill levels. No background in drawing or engraving is required! Classes are limited to 4 students at a time to personal attention throughout the entire session.

In their drypoint printmaking class, you will learn how to use texture and contrast, and how to ink the drypoint plate to achieve your desired result.

Give drypoint printmaking a go this February! Only at WeTeachMe.