When making an etching that is
any more complicated than a linear design, an artist will pull
a series of proofs from the plate as he/she progresses. Thus,
the first proof will be pulled after the plate is etched just
with lines; the second plate will show how the plate looks after
aquatinting is added. A new proof will be pulled each time a
new color or background effect is added to the plate, or each
time a second plate is prepared.
Each proof in this series is
called a "state", since it shows the various stages
the print goes through before the plates are finally ready. None
of these proofs count as part of the final printed edition.
Shown here are 5 states of a
Kathleen Cantin etching called After the Storm. It was
created with three plates because of the many colors that went
into the final print. For every impression made, each plate is
separately inked, wiped and printed by hand. The paper must be
carefully positioned on each plate to make sure the colors register
correctly. Image size of the final piece is 18 1/2" x 12".
(Top) After the artist drew the linear design onto the
plate, it was etched repeatedly in acid to get the various line
values. The ground was then washed off, and the plate was inked
(Second) Aquatinting was added to the plate to
get depth, shadows and tonal value.
(Third) A second plate was created to add colors: blue
in the sky and green in the land. Both plates were used to create
(Fourth) The blue sky on the
second plate was etched again to add more background tones.
(Final) A third plate was etched
to add yellow and orange highlight colors to the sky and water.
The final image was produced using all three plates.