Renaissance Press Photogravure

Tips, Tricks & Tutorials


1. Chine Collé with Airbrush. 

2. Copper Plate Photogravure  - Significantly Shorter and Simplified Process - Single Acid Etch No Humidity Control

This method was developed during a workshop demonstration.   I had one extra step tablet and decided to etch it in a single bath of ferric chloride.  Instead of controlling the humidity the processed plate was placed on a hot plate to drive out moisture.  As soon as the plate was cooled to room temperature it was placed in the etching bath.  I was stunned that this worked and have been using this method with consistant and beautiful results ever since.  If  film and tissue are prepared in advance it takes less than two hours to process the gravure plate.  There is no need to control the humidity prior to etching.  The process outline below was created using Dragon Gravure Tissue.  A recent roll of tissue required a few changes as noted below. 

  • Create a film profile limited to a maximum density of 1.6.  (New 1.4)
  • Print a digital 21 step tablet on your film of choice.
  • Sensitize Dragon Tissue in a 4% potassium dichromate solution chilled to 35  (New 45-50) degrees for 1.5 minutes.
  • Use equal tone and aquatint exposures.
  • Chill the laydown water to 33 - 40 (New 50) degrees. 
  • Transfer the tissue to the copper as quickly as possible.  (New - Allow the tissue to swell for 1 minute before transfer)
  • Blot the backing paper and wait 30 seconds. 
  • Immerse the plate into 115 degree development water.  Wait 3.5 minutes  (New 2 minutes) to peel tissue.
  • After 5 to 7 (New - 8 minutes)  minutes of agitation and hosing the clearing is complete.
  • Place the plate in a 75% (New - 60% bath for two minutes then flush with 70% for 30 seconds) isopropyl alcohol bath for 2 minutes.
  • Drying Time = 15 minutes room temperature  >  mask the plate  >  place the plate on 120 degree hotplate for 20 minutes  >  lay the plate on cardboard to cool.
  • As soon as the plate has cooled to room temperature begin etch in 42 baume ferric chloride. 
  • Proof
  • If you do not have separation in all steps increase both the aquatint and tone exposures.
  • If your test does not have enough contrast decrease both aquatint and tone exposures.
  • Create a process adjustment curve using printed 21 step table.
  • You only have to do these tests once unless you change a major variable.