is a printmaking
technique of the intaglio
family, that is in some sense a cross between etching
. As in etching, acid is used to bite the plate, creating pits that will hold ink; as in mezzotint, the aquatinting process is used to create an overall rough tooth to the plate that will hold a large area of ink to print a solid block of color; the image is created from dark to light by smoothing the tooth to create highlights.
A metal plate is dusted evenly (or unevenly) with finely particulate resin. The plate is then heated to melt the resin to the surface. Biting the plate with acid creates a fine, rough texture on the plate. Before biting, the artist may use asphaltum to block areas that will print clear; after biting, the artist may use a burin a to smooth areas of the plate, lightening them for printing.