Art Term

Drypoint

Drypoint is a printmaking process in which a design is drawn on a plate with a sharp, pointed needle-like instrument

Jannis Kounellis, ‘[no title]’ 1999
Jannis Kounellis
[no title] 1999
Tate
© Jannis Kounellis

An intaglio technique, drypoint is usually done on copper plates as the softer metal lends itself to this technique. (Intaglio refers to any printmaking process which involves making incisions or indents in a plate, so when the ink is applied and then wiped off, ink remains caught in the incisions and creates the image).

The process of incising for drypoint creates a slightly raised ragged rough edge to the lines, known as the burr. When ink that has been applied to the plate is wiped off both the incised line and specifically the burr receive ink when the plate is wiped, giving the printed line a distinctive velvety look. Owing to the delicate nature of the burr, drypoint is usually made in small editions, stopping before the burr is crushed by the pressure of the intaglio press. Drypoint is often combined with other etching techniques.

Related terms and concepts

Art Term

Intaglio

Intaglio describes any printmaking technique in which the image is produced by incising into the printing plate – the incised ...

Art Term

Etching

Etching is a printmaking technique that uses chemical action to produce incised lines in a metal printing plate which then ...

Art Term

Ink

Ink is an ancient writing and drawing medium in liquid or paste form, traditionally black or brown in colour – ...

Selected artworks in the collection