Use of the Aquatint Screen
The Aquatint Screen is used during the plate making stage to provide the necessary dot pattern in conjunction with the photographic or hand drawn positive. How do you establish the dot pattern on a polymer plate, specifically when working with a photopolymer printmaking film like ImagOn? A drawing or photograph can be turned into an etching by using an Aquatint Screen.
The Aquatint Screen is used for direct contact exposures to ImagOn photopolymer film. Each Aquatint Screen has an opaque dot structure. Exposing this Aquatint Screen to an ImagOn plate will create an overall rich black aquatint-like base, in preparation for a second exposure to a drawing or photographic positive. First the ImagOn plate is exposed to the Aquatint Screen to provide a random dot pattern, then a second time to the image. After these two exposures the ImagOn plate is developed, dried, and printed with traditional inks in the intaglio manner. The process from exposure to print takes about 30 minutes.
Using the Aquatint Screen with Drawings
The intaglio mark making possibilities when working with the Aquatint Screen are numerous, ranging from subtle ink and tusche type washes to delicate hand drawn lines to bold expressive crayon drawings. All drawings and paintings must be on transparent or translucent material. All drawing or painting materials must be opaque to high intensity U.V. light.
This non-etched process presents a direct and painterly approach to creating intaglio prints. Graphite, gouache, acrylic, watercolor, watercolor pencils, lithographic-type wax pencils and crayons and tusche all work beautifully as drawing materials onto transparent acetate or frosted Mylar.
Using the Aquatint Screen with Photographs
Photographs can be transformed into intaglio prints when the Aquatint Screen is used as the base to create the dot pattern. Photographs can be reproduced from photocopies, digital, or darkroom positives. All photographic material must be positive, not negative. All photographic material must be on a transparent or translucent base and the image areas must be opaque to high intensity U.V. light.
Note: If you are able to control the dot pattern either digitally or in the darkroom, you can create a halftone with an open dot in the blackest areas. If this open dot is about 60% to 70%, then you will not have to use the Aquatint Screen, as this halftone dot is sufficient to create the necessary dot pattern for your intaglio print.