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- Etching Guide and Tutorial : Hard Ground -
tool list prep plate apply ground transfer art hard ground soft ground aquatint acid bath ink and print etching tips

Hard ground is completely acid resistant. It is good for line work and stippling (them crazy dots).

I always do hard ground first. Even on plates that are mostly soft ground or aquatint, I make outlines of the subject matter. Of course you don't need to do outlines, if you are one of them free spirited, Mr. Bo Jangles type of human being.

Print Examples Using Etching Hard Ground

Hard ground is good for line work. A good hard ground enables finer detail and more control.

hard ground 1

Various effects can be achieved, similar to pen and ink. You can do pointillism or make marks and scratches.

hard ground 2

This is a print using aquatint. I use the hard ground first to make an outline then fill in the space with aquatint or soft ground.

hard ground 3

Working with Etching Hard Ground: I primarily use the trusty etching needle with hard ground. I prefer the twisty one. I found the diamond tip one made lines too big and sometimes caused flaking. The cork handle one has too fine a tip!

You should consider your etching needle to be a trusty friend and treat it kindly. I keep corks on the ends when stored. The fuzzy hair tie wrapped close to the end is for better gripping.

etching needle

First thing I do is to go over the guidelines I put down. These can then be filled in with lines, patterns, dots, soft ground, or aquatint. You just need to expose the plate underneath the ground. No need to make grooves into the plate itself. The acid will do the work.

work the ground

*Time for the Acid Bath: More than likely your next step will be the acid bath. Then depending on your project, you may want to come back to the soft ground and aquatint sections for more techniques.

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