Mezzotint is a printing process of the intaglio familiy, in which the surface of a metal plate is roughened evenly; the image is then brought out by smoothing the surface, creating the image by working from dark to light.

Plates can be mechanically roughened, but the classical way is to rub fine metal filings over the surface with a piece of glass; the finer the filings, the smaller the grain of the surface. Mezzotint is known for the luxurious quality of its tones: first, because an evenly, finely roughened surface holds a lot of ink, allowing deep solid colors to be printed; secondly because the process of smoothing the texture with a burin allows fine gradations in tone to be developed.

copyright 2004