Dry point is a printmaking technique of the intaglio family. The technique of using the needle is closer to using a pencil. In this mechanical process, the artist draw directly onto the plate (zinc, aluminum, synthetic material, plexiglas), with very sharp steel needle and pressure, leaving behind two copper edges on both sides of the recess. The incising leaves a ridge called a "burr", much like a plow leaves furrows of dirt to either side as it cuts through the ground. When the plate is printed, the burr holds some ink, and produces a soft velvety line, characteristic of the dry point that differentiates dry point from other intaglio methods such as etching or engraving which produce a smooth, hard-edged line. The image on the paper is created primarily by the ink on the edges, rather than ink in the shallow concave line. The deepest dry point lines leave enough burr on either side of them that they prevent the paper from pushing down into the center of the stroke, creating a feathery black line with a fine, white center. This technique is different from engraving, in which the incisions are made by removing metal to form depressions in the plate surface which hold ink, although the two methods can easily be combined, as Rembrandt often did. Often the dry point lines are very weak, leaving the etched portions still strong.
Any sharp object can theoretically be used to make a drypoint, as long as it can be used to carve lines into metal. Dentistry tools, nails, and metal files can all be used to produce drypoints. However, certain types of needles are created specifically for drypoints:
-Diamond-tipped needles carve easily through any metal and never need sharpening, but they are expensive.
-Carbide-tipped steel needles can also be used to great effect, and are cheaper than diamond-tipped needles, but they need frequent sharpening to maintain a sharp point. Steel needles were traditionally used.
Printing is essentially the same as for the other intaglio techniques, but extra care is taken to preserve the burr. After the image is finished, or at least ready to proof, the artist applies ink to the plate with a dauber. Drypoint wiping techniques vary slightly from other intaglio techniques. Too much pressure will flatten the burrs and ruin the image. Once the plate is completely covered with a thin layer, a tarlatan cloth is used to wipe away excess ink. Some printmakers use their bare hand instead to wipe these areas. Once the desired amount of ink is removed, the plate is run through an etching press along with a piece of dampened paper to produce a print. Less pressure is applied to achieve desirable lines, because the burrs forming the image are more fragile than etched or engraved lines, but also because the ink rests on the plate surface, instead of pressed down into indentations.
Because edges wear out quickly from the pressure of the press may get a limited amount of prints - often less or only 10. This technique is fast and produces an image similar to the picture. Dry point lines are included often in etchings and aquatint to give a variety of line and texture of the image.
The technique appears to have been invented by the Housebook Master, a south German 15th-century artist, all of whose prints are in drypoint only. Among the most famous artists of the old master print Albrecht D.rer produced 3 drypoints before abandoning the technique; Rembrandt used it frequently, but usually in conjunction with etching and engraving. As intaglio techniques, they can all be used on the same plate. Alex Katz used this process to create several of his famous works, such as "Sunny" and "The Swimmer".
In the 20th century many artists produced drypoints, including Max Beckmann, Milton Avery, and Hermann-Paul. By adding aquatint work on the plate and inking with various colours, artists such as Mary Cassatt have produced colour drypoints. Canadian artist David Brown Milne is credited as the first to produce coloured drypoints by the use of multiple plates, one for each colour.