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

You can skip this part if your one of them high felutin', no lines, no guides, no authority, free thinking, free spirited folks, who don't like to mess with lines and would never draw from a photo yet alone look at one! I respect that.

This process is for hard ground. I, so far in my etching non-career, use hard ground first. It makes outlines on the plate, which I use for guidelines with soft ground and aquatint.

*The print will be a mirror image of what you see on the plate. I put a mirror image of the art on the plate so when I print it, it comes out the same as I originally intended. Prints that come out mirrored to your original subject can look funny and throw off your composition. If you really want to reproduce a drawing - make the mirror image; built into the steps below.

This step shows you how to get a pencil outline onto the hard ground on the plate. There is a process to transfer a more photo-like image to a plate, but I don't know anything about it. Google it!

Transfer A Drawing to the Etching Plate: The drawing should match the size of your plate. If you don't want to "ruin" your drawing, you should copy or scan it or something.

1. The inspiration: A photo of an old mining cart I took at Bodie, California - a state park

transfer art 1

2. The cart, drawn the old fashion way, by hand with pencil.

transfer art 2

3. With a woodless pencil or a regular pencil, cover a sheet of paper with pencil lead.

transfer art 3

4. Put your drawing on top of the paper with the lead and retrace the image with a semi-dull pencil to create a mirror image of the drawing on the back of it.

transfer art 4

5. Put the drawing face down on the plate, mirrored image side up. Retrace the mirrored image to create a pencil outline on the plate.

transfer art 5

6. Remember: When the plate prints, it makes a mirror image of what is seen on the plate.

transfer art 6

Unless you want to destroy your photo, you'll need to copy it or scan it in the computer. Your final images needs to be the same size as the plate.

Using a Copy: If you are using a copied image, follow the same process above starting with step 2. In step 2, instead of the drawing, just outline the photo creating the guidelines you want.

Using a Computer: This is if you have a scanned image and you have the ability to make a mirrored image using software. If not ...print out your picture then see above. If you can make a mirrored image using a program like Photoshop, do so and print it. Make sure it is the correct size. Cover the back of the printout with pencil lead. Then put the image on the plate and make outlines as wanted.

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