Copper Etching Aquatint: Step One – Applying Spray Paint

Posted on: September 27th, 2014
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TURN ON spray room fan. Make sure the door is closed while spraying. WEAR a mask. WEAR goggles. Gloves are optional but suggested. If you’re not sure about safety refer to the door of the spray room and/or the spray paint bottle. IF you’re still not sure, ASK!

The point of aquatint is to etch a sort of bitmap like tone into the plate manually. It doesn’t matter what colour of spray paint you use, but each spray paint will vary (look for spray paints that are acrylic-based). Black is good because it’s easy to see against the copper. Try to get as even a coat as possible, with a range of 50-70% coverage.

An easy way to tell if your spray is even is to hang/tape a sheet of newsprint to the wall and try a couple of tests. Another good trick is to spray the plate and flip it so that one side doesn’t have a heavier application.

Once you’ve done the spray, you can etch it right away or paint on stop-out varnish for any areas that you want to protect (i.e. read as a positive or white marks in your print). You can also use the stop-out varnish before spraying the plate. Lithography crayons/pencils also work as a resist and can be used to draw in conjunction with aquatint (before or after spray application).

Multiple Layers

After you etch the first layer of aquatint, you can wash it off and apply another layer of spray paint. You can paint stop-out on top of the etched aquatint and then apply more spray paint to create darker shading. Continue to step-etch and spray as you wish, or as your drawing dictates.

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