"Hindsight is always twenty-twenty. " Billy Wilder
"Hindsight is an exact science. " Guy Bellamy

04 June 2013

Photogravure with polymer plates

To my thinking, digital photography matched with photogravure is the perfect marriage between new and old art forms. With the advent of photosensitive polymer plates, the technique is now greatly simplified and quite safe.

Briefly, this is how I do it:
An image is converted to black and white in Photoshop. The file is then converted to an image-setter positive film – in my case, by a professional bureau.

The polymer plate is exposed twice with UV light – first through a stochastic screen and then through the image-setter film. The plate is then washed in warmish water, dried and then re-exposed to UV light to harden.

If all has gone to plan, the plate will look something like the one below  - but without the ink stains.

Image © PetreM2020

Next stage is traditional intaglio printing – ink up the plate, wipe off the excess and then through the etching press with suitable wet rag paper.  All sounds easy, doesn’t it…………….

Image © PeteM2020
If the gods are smiling the result can be quite remarkable – incredible detail and a wide tonal range. Despite the relatively course rag paper, have a look at the fine details in the enlarged section of the print.

Image © PeteM2020
So why all the bother when an inkjet print on rag paper may look similar? Intaglio printing, that’s why – there isn’t another way of getting that 3D look and tactile feel to a print!

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