Renaissance Press Photogravure

Copper Plate Photogravure - Single Acid Etch - Significantly Shorter and Simplified Process

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.    The process outline below was created using Dragon Gravure Tissue.   

I suggest a few variables for trouble shooting print contrast and density problems below.  

  • Create a film profile limited to a maximum density of 1.4.
  • Print a digital 21 step tablet on your film of choice.
  • Sensitize Dragon Tissue in a 4% potassium dichromate solution chilled to 45 degrees for 75 seconds.
  • Use equal tone and aquatint exposures.
  • Chill the laydown water to 45 degrees.
  • Transfer the tissue to the copper within 20 seconds.
  • Blot the backing paper and wait 75 seconds.
  • Immerse the plate into 115 degree development water.  Wait two minutes before peeling the tissue.
  • After 8 minutes of minutes of agitation and hosing the clearing is complete.
  • Place the plate in a 50% tray of isopropyl alcohol bath for 2 minutes.  Remove the plate from the alcohol and flood with 75% isopropyl.  Agitate the plate in hand.  Flood the plate twice within 45 seconds.
  • Dry the plate as evenly as you can.  
  • Allow the plate to rest with air circulation for 10 minutes.  
  • Mask the plate.  
  • After twenty minutes of total drying place the plate on a hot plate heated to 120 F for 20 minutes.
  • After twenty minutes move the plate to a room temperature surface.
  • As soon as the plate has cooled to room temperature etch in 40.3 ferric chloride.
  • Proof.
  • If the plate has too much contrast  increase the aquatint and tone exposures or decrease the film positive contrast range.
  • If the plate does not have enough contrast decrease both the aquatint and tone exposures or increase the film positive contrast range.

  • If the plate is overall too dark increase your aquatint and tone exposures or decrease the overal density of the film positive.
  • If the plate is overall too light decrease the aquatint and tone exposures and increase the density of the film positive.
  • Create a process adjustment curve using printed 21 step table.
  • You only have to do these tests once unless you change a major variable.