This is the oldest method of intaglio printing. Albrecht Durer was the first artist to popularize this way, although there are examples of engravings, imprinted on metal armor almost a hundred years earlier.
The image is cut into a hard, usually flat surfaceof the matrix (usually copper, zinc or another metal), by cutting grooves into it. Engravers use a hardened sharp steel tool called grobshtihel (burin) to cut the design. The image is etched mirrored. Gravers come in a variety of shapes and sizes that yield different line types. The angle tint tool has a slightly curved tip that is commonly used in printmaking. Each graver is different and has its own use. There are round gravers which make round cuts, and V-point gravers which make angled cuts. V-point can be anywhere from 60 to 130 degrees, depending on purpose and effect. These gravers have very small cutting points. Professional engravers engrave with resolution of up to 40 lines per mm in high grade work creating game scenes and scrollwork. Florentine liners are flat-bottomed tools with multiple lines incised into them, used to do fill work on larger areas. Flat gravers are used for doing fill work on letters, as well as most musical instrument engraving work. Round gravers are commonly used on silver to create bright cuts (also called bright-cut engraving), as well as other hard-to-cut metals such as nickel and steel. Burins are either square or elongated diamond-shaped and used for cutting straight lines. Other tools such as mezzotint rockers, roulets and burnishers are used for texturing effects. The burin produces a unique and recognizable quality of line that is characterized by its steady, deliberate appearance and clean edges. After inking, the plate surface is wiped clean and the ink remains in the incised lines. Moist soft paper, put on plate, cover with a resolution matter and press between two rollers under pressure from several hundred kilograms per square centimeter. This pressure puts ink on paper, leaving its mark on the surface of white background, where the plate has been cleaned. These images are also called engravings.
Engraving was a historically important method of producing images on paper, both in artistic printmaking, and also for commercial reproductions and illustrations for books and magazines. It has long been replaced by various photographic processes in its commercial applications and, partly because of the difficulty of learning the technique, is much less common in printmaking, where it has been largely replaced by etching and other techniques. 20th century, when the technique became less popular, except for banknotes and other forms of security printing.
The actual engraving is done by a combination of pressure and manipulating the workpiece. That process is still practiced today, but modern technology has brought various mechanically assisted engraving systems. Traditional engraving, by burin or with the use of machines, continues to be practised by goldsmiths, glass engravers, gunsmiths and others, while modern industrial techniques such as photoengraving and laser engraving have many important applications.
In the European Middle Ages goldsmiths used engraving to decorate and inscribe metalwork. It is thought that they began to print impressions of their designs to record them. From this grew the engraving of copper printing plates to produce artistic images on paper, known as old master prints in Germany in the 1430s. Italy soon followed. Many early engravers came from a goldsmithing background. The first and greatest period of the engraving was from about 1470 to 1530, with such masters as Martin Schongauer, Albrecht D.rer, and Lucas van Leiden. By the nineteenth century, most engraving was for commercial illustration.
Before the advent of photography, engraving was used to reproduce other forms of art, for example paintings. Engravings continued to be common in newspapers and many books into the early 20th century, as they were cheaper to use in printing than photographic images. Engraving has also always been used as a method of original artistic expression. Because of the high level of microscopic detail that can be achieved by a master engraver, counterfeiting of engraved designs is well-nigh impossible, and modern banknotes are almost always engraved, as are plates for printing money, checks, bonds and other security-sensitive papers. The engraving is so fine that a normal printer cannot recreate the detail of hand engraved images, nor can it be scanned. In the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, more than one hand engraver will work on the same plate, making it nearly impossible for one person to duplicate all the engraving on a particular banknote or document. Many classic postage stamps were engraved. The highest levels of the art are found on firearms and other metal weaponry, jewelry and musical instruments. In most industrial uses like production of intaglio plates for commercial applications, Another application of modern engraving is found in the printing industry. There, every day thousands of pages are mechanically engraved onto rotogravure cylinders. Still there are certain applications where use of hand engraving tools cannot be replaced.