Intaglio (printmaking)

Depressions are engraved or etched into a flat printing plate. Likely not to scale: grooves can be less than a millimetre wide.
The plate is covered in ink.
The ink is wiped off the surface of the plate, but remains in the grooves.
Paper is placed on the plate and compressed, such as by a heavy roller.
The paper is removed, and the ink has been transferred from the plate to the paper.
Micro-topography of an ordinary French post stamp (detail) showing the thickness of ink obtained by intaglio. The words la Poste appeared in white on red background and hence corresponds to areas with a lack of ink.
Banknote portrait pattern made with intaglio printing. Denomination: 1000 Hungarian forint. Depicted area: 18.1 by 13.5 millimetres (0.71 in × 0.53 in).

Intaglio (/ TAL-ee-oh; Italian: [inˈtaʎʎo]) is the family of printing and printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface and the incised line or sunken area holds the ink.[1] It is the direct opposite of a relief print.

Normally, copper or zinc plates are used as a surface or matrix, and the incisions are created by etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint or mezzotint.[2] Collagraphs may also be printed as intaglio plates.[3]


In intaglio printing, the lines to be printed are cut into a metal (e.g. copper) plate by means either of a cutting tool called a burin, held in the hand – in which case the process is called engraving; or through the corrosive action of acid – in which case the process is known as etching.[4] In etching, for example, the plate is pre-covered in a thin, acid-resistant resin or wax ground. Using etching needles or burins, the artist or writer (etcher) engraves their image (therefore to be only where the plate beneath is exposed). The plate's ground side is then dipped into acid, or the acid poured onto it. The acid bites into the surface of the plate where it was exposed. Biting is a printmaking term to describe the acid's etching, or incising, of the image; its duration depends on the acid strength, metal's reactivity, temperature, air pressure and the depth desired.[5] After the plate is sufficiently bitten it is removed from the acid bath, the ground is removed gently and the plate is usually dried or cleaned.[6]

To print an intaglio plate, ink or inks are painted, wiped and/or dabbed into the recessed lines (such as with brushes/rubber gloves/rollers). The plate is then rubbed with tarlatan cloth to remove most of its waste (surface ink) and a final smooth wipe is often done with newspaper or old public phone book pages, leaving it in the incisions. Dampened imprint (product) paper will usually be fed against the plate, covered by a blanket, so when pressed by rolling press it is squeezed into the plate's ink-filled grooves with uniform very high pressure.[7] The blanket is then lifted, revealing the paper and printed image. The final stages repeat for each copy needed.

Other Languages
беларуская: Глыбокі друк
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Глыбокі друк
български: Дълбок печат
čeština: Hlubotisk
Ελληνικά: Βαθυτυπία
español: Grabado a buril
Esperanto: Konkava preso
français: Taille-douce
한국어: 요판 인쇄
Bahasa Indonesia: Intaglio
עברית: דפוס שקע
қазақша: Ойыңқы басу
latviešu: Dobspiedums
lietuvių: Giliaspaudė
Bahasa Melayu: Cetakan Intaglio
Nederlands: Diepdruk
日本語: 凹版印刷
norsk: Dyptrykk
português: Gravura em metal
română: Tipar adânc
slovenčina: Tlač z hĺbky
српски / srpski: Дубока штампа
svenska: Intaglio
Türkçe: Tifdruk
українська: Глибокий офсет
中文: 凹版印刷