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Keith Howard:
The Contemporary Printmaker and
New Terminology     

Alphabetical listing kindly provided by Prof Keith Howard, RIT, NY

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Acrylic Aquatint
First documented by Keith Howard in his 1991 publication Safe Photo Etching for Photographers and Artists where Speedball Screen Filler is airbrushed onto a copper plate and etched.

Acrylic Resist Etching
A term to describe the use of liquid acrylics and polymers in making etch-resist grounds for metal plates.

Acrylic Soft Ground
An acrylic soft ground first developed by Keith Howard in 1991. A small amount of water-soluble Graphic Chemical 1659 black relief ink is roll-coated onto a copper plate. While the ink is wet soft ground textures are pressed into the ink-ground after which, the ground is dried and the plate etched in ferric chloride. After etching, the plate is printed.

A method using a fish tank aerator to circulate ferric chloride, or any etchant, in a vertical etching tank, developed by Keith Howard in 1997.

Akua Ink
Waterbased inks made with gum-based binders, developed by printmakers Susan Rostow & William Jung (Rostow & Jung). The original 'Akua Kolor' was developed for monotype in 1996. 'Akua Intaglio', developed in 2001, is thicker and tackier than Akua Kolor. Akua oil converter medium will convert Akua Intaglio into a stiffer oil ink that still cleans up with soap and water.

Aquatint Screen
A transparent screen with opaque random dots generally made through an imagesetter on to lith film, which is used to simulate the effect of a traditional intaglio aquatint when the screen is exposed to an ImagOn plate. Used in conjunction with Intaglio Type non-etch techniques.

Aquatint Intaglio Type
Techniques, developed by Keith Howard in 2003, to utilize airbrush stencils to create tonal variations with the Intaglio Type non-etch technique.


Badger Acrylic Aquatint Solution for Printmakers
An acrylic aquatint solution developed by Keith Howard and Elizabeth Dove in 1997 in collaboration with the Badger Airbrush Company, as a high quality airbrushed acrylic aquatint.

Bordeaux Etch
First introduced into printmaking by Cedric Green, it is a copper sulfate solution designed for etching zinc plates quickly and safely.

Citric Acid
A nontoxic additive that enhances a ferric chloride based etching bath by preventing sedimentation. A major component of the Edinburgh Etch when added to ferric chloride.

Combination Techniques
Refers to combining different printmaking techniques to achieve unique results.

Construction Intaglio Type
Pieces of photopolymer film are added to or constructed on a plate where the final print shows the delineation of each constructed piece. A common Intaglio Type plate re-working technique.

Copper Sulfate/Sulphate
A common metal salt used to make up the Saline Sulphate Etch or The Bordeaux Etch.

Collagraph Marks
Dried acrylic marks are so hard wearing on a plate that they can be used as a raised printing surface. This is often combined with intaglio marks or Intaglio Type techniques that have incised marks on the plate through etching or mechanical action.

Crackle Intaglio Type
A non-exposure technique, developed by Keith Howard in 2001, where a raw unexposed ImagOn plate is heated on a hot plate and then painted with gum arabic. As the gum dries it cracks. The plate is developed in the soda ash developer and then printed.

Crisco Lift
A very detailed lift process in which positive marks are established with melted vegetable fat, coated with floor varnish, aquatinted, and then etched; developed by Friedhard Kiekeben and Susan Groce in 1998.

Destruction Ground
An etch resist technique, first developed by Keith Howard in 1991, where Speedball Screen Filler is diluted and painted onto a copper plate. It is then etched in ferric chloride and printed revealing a corresponding tonal value to the thickness of screen filler that was applied to the plate. Many other types of acrylics can be substituted with the screen filler to create a variety of marks.

Digital Halftone
A halftone is an image created with a series of large and small dots to facilitate photo-reproduction plate making techniques. A digital halftone is made through computer technology and printed from laser or inkjet printers onto clear film.

Direct Intaglio Type
A technique, developed by Keith Howard in 2000, where the top Mylar of an Intaglio Type plate is used to carry the image prior to exposing the plate in the exposure unit.

Direct Mark Making
In this method marks, textures and washes are established directly with acrylics on a metal plate, and then etched.

see Acrylic Resist Etching, Destruction Ground, Open Bite

Drafting Mylar
A type of Mylar film that has an ingrained tooth designed to receive pencil and other drawing media. Used as a tracing film where wet media will not cause the Drafting Mylar to buckle.

Duo Tone Intaglio Type
Intaglio Type made from two plates with two different tonal values of one color.

Edinburgh Etch

A mixture of ferric chloride and citric acid, invented by Friedhard Kiekeben in 1997, which offers a superior etchant for printmakers. The process received scientific approval by Dr Craig and Dr Rosenberg of RIT, NY, in 2003.

Etched Intaglio Type
Developed by Keith Howard in 1996, a method where an ImagOn plate emulsion is thinned by placing it in a 10% soda ash developing or thinning solution for 8 minutes. The plate is then dried and exposed to a halftone image, redeveloped, etched and then printed.

Etching Plates
Sheet metal plates suitable for metal salt and acrylic resist etching include copper, zinc, brass, aluminium, and mild steel. Each of these metals has unique etching and printing characteristics. Plates can also be used as a laminating substrate for photopolymer films.

Etching Press
A printing press resembling a mangle. Two moving rollers are mounted on top of each other with the printing bed sandwiched in between. The very high pressures typically leave an embossed plate mark in the printing paper. The etching press is now also an essential tool for Intaglio Type printmaking.

Exposure System
Refers to an exposure unit or plate maker for exposing ImagOn plates to an image


Ferric Chloride
A metal salt etching agent that can be bought as a saturated solution from chemical suppliers. It is often used in vertical etching tanks and as a base ingredient for the Edinburgh Etch.

Flash Exposure
This refers to a burst of light to a naked ImagOn plate. The duration of the light is such that the tonal range of the image on the plate is increased.

Flow Coating
A hard ground plate coating technique where Future or Klear acrylic floor finish is poured onto a clean etching plate.

Future Hard Ground
A hard ground made by flow-coating Future Acrylic Finish onto a metal etching plate. The European substitute for Future is called Klear.

Four Color Intaglio Type
A technique developed by Elizabeth Dove in 2002, where full color Intaglio Type prints are made in conjunction with process colors, full density digital halftones and aquatinted ImagOn plates.


ImagOn Developer

Is made from 10% soda ash or anhydrous sodium carbonate solution. It is a soft-water solution comprising of 10g of soda ash and 1 liter of pH7 water.

ImagOn Plate
A metal or plastic plate laminated with ImagOn photopolymer film.

Du Pont made, high-resolution, dry, photopolymer film, used for intaglio printmaking.

Ink Emboss with Intaglio Type
Refers to the thickness of the ink on the final print.

Intaglio Printmaking
Is a method of inking a plate whereby the ink is forced into lines and textures in a plate, after which the top surface of the plate is wiped clean, leaving the ink in the recessed areas. This ink is then pressed onto printing or intaglio paper with the use of an etching press.

Intaglio Type
A name coined by Keith Howard to describe the range of intaglio printmaking techniques that utilize photopolymer film for intaglio plate making.

Intaglio Type Non-Etch Techniques
Intaglio Type prints made without etching the metal plate. The ImagOn or the photopolymer film is eroded during the soda ash developing phase of plate making. The soda ash developer acts on the photopolymer film in much the same manner as nitric acid does on traditional zinc etching plates. As with conventional etching the ImagOn or Intaglio Type plate is inked, wiped and printed in the normal intaglio way.

Intaglio Type Plates
Intaglio plates with photopolymer film laminated on one side.

Layered Intaglio Type
A technique, developed by Keith Howard in 1996, where a plate is comprised of two or more layers of ImagOn. Each layer has the potential to be exposed separately; these layers are uncovered in the developing technique.

Light Integrator
This is a device generally attached to the vacuum frame that measures UV light output from the lamp of the exposure unit.

Line Intaglio Type
A technique for working with line and the Intaglio Type plate making.

Liquid Aquatint
A technique, first developed by Henri Goetz in France about thirty years ago, where carborundum is added to a binder and painted onto a plate. When dry the plate is inked and the resulting liquid aquatint has the potential to hold a large quantity of ink.

Liquid Stencil with Aquatint
Temporary liquid stencils developed by Keith Howard in 1997 to preventing the spray from the spray acrylic aquatint from landing on the plate


Metal Salt Etching
A safer etching methodology that replaces the traditional, and toxic, acid etching. It works through electro-chemical action, and refers to ferric chloride and copper sulfate based processes. This system includes The Edinburgh Etch and The Saline Sulphate Etch.

Mezzo Intaglio Type
This Intaglio Type technique, developed by Keith Howard in 1996, commences with a developed aquatinted ImagOn plate that is then painted on with Speedball Screen Filler to create the image. The thicker the Screen Filler the whiter the resulting print.

Multi Plate Wash Drawing Intaglio Type
Technique, developed by Keith Howard in 1997, whereby several toner-wash drawing are exposed to several ImagOn plates to create a multi-plate non-etch Intaglio Type print.

A type of plastic that can be completely transparent or frosted.

Open Bite (Intaglio Type)
Open bite occurs when the ImagOn emulsion is developed or abraded from the surface of an ImagOn plate to the degree that ink will not hold in the open bite area.

Open Bite (Etching)
Any lowered area of an etched metal plate that does not hold ink. This can create very expressive effects, resembling pits and ridges, but can be avoided through the use of Acrylic Aquatint that gives tone to that area.

Orono Ground
A fortified Graphic Chemical waterbased relief ink-ground jointly developed by Friedhard Kiekeben and Susan Gross in 1999. Graphic Chemical 1659 Black Relief ink is used as the base ground to which Golden GAC 200 is added along with a small amount of Golden's Screen Printing Medium to create the Orono Ground. Can be used as a soft- or hard ground.

Pastel Intaglio Type

An Intaglio Type technique, developed by Erin Holsher and Amy Williams in 2003, where drafting Mylar is worked with wet or dry pastel.

PETG / Spectar® and (Vivak®) PETG / Spectar® (Polyethylene Terephthalate) co-polyester sheet is a thermoplastic sheet used in engineering applications. PETG looks like Plexiglas but is a softer plastic. Distributed by Laird Plastics. 

The photocell is the actual component of the light integrator of an exposure unit that reacts to the UV light exposure that is then converted into a digital numeric read-out referred to as Light Units (L.U.).

Peel Back Layer
The top plastic protection layer on ImagOn film.

Photopolymer Gravure
A term coined by Eli Posaing in his 1995 publication Photopolymer Gravure: A New Method that describes a technique for Photogravure-like results made from commercial flexographic printing plates.

Photopolymer Films
Dry laminate films originally designed for imaging computer chips.

Photopolymer Printmaking
A generic term commonly used to describe both the photopolymer film process (Intaglio Type) as well as Photopolymer Gravure.

The process where an acrylic emulsion solidifies into long polymer chains that are hardwearing and acid resistant. In the case of ImagOn and other photopolymer films this is caused by exposure to light. Thus areas of an ImagOn plate that were protected from UV light exposure wash off the plate with the sodium carbonate developer and what remains is the Intaglio Type plate.

Process Color Intaglio Type
A technique, developed by David Jay Reed in 2002, where the process colors of cyan, magenta, yellow and black are used with corresponding non-etch Intaglio Type plates to create full color Intaglio Type prints.

Progressive Etch
Where an image being etched into a plate receives different lengths of etching time to fully realize the image. Shorter etching times will be represented in light lines or tones in an image and darker tones will have received longer etching times


Reverse Mezzotint

A term coined by Keith Howard in his 1998 publication Non-Toxic Intaglio Printmaking. In this technique, lighter areas are created by painting acrylics onto a plate that has a dot structure already etched into it. It works both for aquatints made by etching a metal plate and in non-etch Intaglio Type Printmaking. When used for Intaglio Type printmaking the technique is called Mezzo Intaglio Type.

A hard and soft ground plate coating technique where a charged brayer deposits an acrylic ground to a etching plate.


The process in which acrylics are safely broken down into a soap solution in dissolved sodium carbonate or other alkalines.

Screen Filler and Liquid Aquatint
Liquid Aquatint is a mixture of Speedball Screen Filler and carborundum that is painted onto an intaglio plate, dried, and inked up. The Liquid Aquatint creates an instant tooth on the plate that will print a rich black.

Sodium Carbonate
A mild alkaline that is used as a developer for ImagOn film as well as a stripping agent for acrylics. Also known as washing soda or soda ash.

A term coined by Dan Welden to describe an artistic use of flexographic printing plates for intaglio and relief printmaking, described in the 2001 text Printmaking in the Sun by Dan Welden and Pauline Muir.

Spit-Bite Intaglio Type
An Intaglio Type technique developed by Keith Howard in 1999 where an Intaglio Type plate is exposed to an Aquatint Screen after which the top Mylar from the plate is removed. The plate can then be painted on with various strength solutions of sodium carbonate. The plate is then washed, dried, and printed. Marks created in this manner resemble watercolor washes.

Standard Development
Refers to the 9 minute standard development time needed for an ImagOn plate.

Saline Sulphate Etch
A unique etchant for zinc, mild steel and aluminium; developed by Friedhard Kiekeben in 2002, where salt is added to the Bordeaux Etch to improve the etching properties.

Stripping Solution
A bath or tank filled with a strong sodium carbonate solution. Acrylic or photopolymer film layers are removed by soaking the plate in this solution. See Saponification

Stencil Intaglio Type
An Intaglio Type technique, developed by Keith Howard in 2000, where the top Mylar coating on the ImagOn plate is used as part of the plate making process. The top Mylar is used in a similar manner as a hand-cut stencil to divide Intaglio Type techniques between the Mezzo and Spit-Bite Intaglio Type.

Submersion Lamination
Refers to a method of ImagOn plate lamination, developed by Keith Howard, where ImagOn film and the receiving plate first come together in a bath of water. It is the first stage of the wet lamination process.


Refers to the polymer particles used in photocopiers to create photocopies.

Refers to photocopy toner mixed with an acrylic binder such as Future or Klear along with rubbing alcohol and a wetting solution to create a kind of ink-wash. This is then painted onto drafting Mylar to create a wash-drawing/painting.

The type of wash created on drafting Mylar that simulates a traditional stone litho tusche wash.

Vacuum Frame

Most exposure units have a glass-topped vacuum bed where artwork is placed on top of the ImagOn plate. When the vacuum is engaged perfect contact between the artwork and plate is achieved. Thus, when being exposed to the UV light source of the exposure unit, a high-resolution plate can be achieved.

Vertical Etching Tank
An etching tank first employed for printmaking by Keith Howard in 1997, for etching plates in an upright position.

Wash Drawing Intaglio Type

Technique, developed by Keith Howard in 1994, whereby a toner-wash drawing is exposed to the ImagOn plate to create a non-etch Intaglio Type print.

Water/Alcohol Resist
A spray aquatint stencil, developed by McLain (Meg) Zylwitis in 2003; it is a mixture of water and alcohol. The acrylic aquatint spray is sprayed onto the resist solution, allowed to merge with the spray screen filler aquatint and to dry onto the plate. The plate is then etched and printed - unique clam shell-like marks are revealed because of this resist.

Washing Soda
A common term for sodium carbonate. In crystal form it is referred to as washing crystals. Washing crystals represent a type of diluted soda ash as each crystal is partially hydrated with water. Washing crystals offer an inferior substitute to the soda ash developer used in Intaglio Type techniques.

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The Beginners Compendium   Intaglio Manual   Etching Ingredients