The Latin term intaligo which
means incise applies to the printing techniques which result
image being created below the surface of the plate.
The material used for forming plates up to
the early 19th century was copper sheet, this diminished after the
the invention of the
more economic mild steel. So to engrave literally means to incise
furrows or grooves on a
copper or steel plate with the use of a graver or burin.
See an example an antique engravings here - 17th century portrait after Van Dyck
Antique Engravings - The Technique
The engraver worked with
the lozenge shaped tool called a graver or burin,
rotating the plate as he worked. The lines were incised into the plate
with varying widths
and depths by altering the angle at which the tool met the plate and
of pressure exerted on the handle.
Differing tones were achieved by changing the
space between the lines, closer together gave a darker area. Cross
produced tonal and textural effects as well as providing a more three
See here for extensive examples of antique engravings - Whitehall Palace after Inigo Jones
Antique Engravings - technique explained.
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