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Making a Drypoint on Plexiglass or Acrylic

Drypoint is a very old printmaking process, traditionally done on copper. Plexiglass (also called perspex, acrylic and lexan) is an affordable, and often more easily accessible alternative plate material.

If you’re unfamiliar with printmaking using plexiglass to make a drypoint etching, here’s a little video demonstration for the drypoint process from my youtube channel, so you can see the steps.

Introduction to making a drypoint etching on a 5×7 sheet of plexiglass

Drypoint Etching Process Photos

Scroll through the images below to get an overview of the process, and check the resource links and tutorials at the bottom!

close up of the process to scribe a drypoint on plexiglass or acrylic
Scribing the surface of an acrylic or plexiglass sheet with a whistler’s needle, also known as a twisted scribe, to hold ink
an artist wearing a magnifying loop to work on a drypoint engraving
Wearing a magnifying head set (or jeweler’s loop) to better see the line work being incised into the acrylic plate
Adding various printmaking ink colors to a drypoint on plexiglass plate with lint-free cotton buds before wiping and printing
Adding various printmaking ink colors to the plate with lint-free cotton buds before wiping and printing the drypoint
pulling a drypoint etching from a clear plexiglass plate
After a trip through the press, where the paper was pushed into the incised, ink-filled line work to collect pigments. The printmaking paper is pulled from the plate to reveal the print.
an edition of 25 drypoint etchings of peacock feathers, fresh from the printmaking studio, laying on the press bed
Printing an edition of 25 peacock feathers over the course of a weekend. Lots of work, but a satisfying, varied color shift results from inking each plate/print in the a la poupee method.
A feather from a peacock drypoint etching in turquoise and lime green with metallic copper pigments and cobalt blue, framed and ready for a wall.
peacock in profile
During a hike at Waimea Falls on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, the peacocks strolled around the grounds like emperors. Their feathers are iridescent, and that inspired adding a bit of metallic pigment to my inking process on this feather print.
Peacock Feather  6×4 Drypoint engraving (also called etching) inked in the a la poupee method with Akua water based inks, and metallic pigments

How to Make a Drypoint Etching from Plexiglass

If you’d like to make one of these drypoint engravings on plexiglass, or acrylic, or lexan, or perspex (it’s called different things in various regions of the world), visit this intaglio printmaking playlist on my YouTube channel.

Intaglio Printmaking Video Resources

If you’d like to explore various intaglio printmaking methods to try on your own, here (below) is a playlist of printmaking tutorial videos on my youtube channel. In 9 videos, you’ll learn:

  • Here are instructions on how to Bevel a plexiglass plate, which is essential if you’re going to print your drypoint on a press. Without beveling the top edge off the plate, the pressure of the press will cut through your printmaking paper, and the press blankets.
Visit my youtube channel, and watch the playlist of tutorials on intaglio printmaking and etching on plexiglass
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Resource Books for Drypoint Printmaking

Here are some of my favorite reference books for intaglio printmaking. Many of them are considered general printmaking texts, but they each have a section or three on drypoint engraving.

Intaglio printmaking in process - a drypoint on plexiglass underway
Another drypoint on plexiglass in precess, featuring a mermaid.

Printmaking Terminology

Incidentally, you’ll hear/read the words etching and engraving interchangeably, in intaglio printmaking. You can use either when referring to drypoint. The difference is that engraving (as a printmaking method) is usually done with a needle or sharp scribe. There is no liquid involved.

Etching (as a printmaking method) is wet: the plates are submerged in baths of caustic acid, which bites into the plate surface to create the line work which holds ink.

Drypoint – as the name implies, is a dry form of plate-making. There is no acid used to engrave the incise the plate. And engraving is also dry, as there is no acid bath. Some printmakers use these terms together: drypoint engraving, instead of drypoint etching. Make sense?

 What new printmaking ideas are you marinating on? Leave any questions in the comments, or a link to your work online so we can see it!  

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post!  


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P.P.S. Here are a few more posts on this art blog related to drypoint – here, here and here. Have fun!

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Art Quote

Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

Walt Disney

Drypoint on Plexiglass or Recycled Plastic Printmaking Supplies

Here is a list of supplies to help you prepare to make a drypoint print from plexiglass, drafting film (mylar), or recycled plastic.

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10 thoughts on “Drypoint on Plexiglass – Printmaking – and inking with a la poupée”

  1. Hi there,
    Thanks for the helpful video. I’m looking to try this but I’m not sure what tools to buy for engraving plexiglass… what do you use?

    1. Hello Tan,
      The traditional engraving tool is called a twisted scribe, or a Whistler’s Needle (after the artist), and they’re made from stainless steel, like this – I hope you have a ton of fun making your first plate. It’s meditative, satisfying work. 🙂

  2. Hi Belinda, I’m wondering what brand of press you use. I took students on a field trip in which we got to make prints with plexiglass. It was at our local university with a giant and expensive press. I’m just wondering if there are cheaper alternatives for the hobby printmaker.

    1. Hi Jenny, My press is a Takach Table Top Etching press, and I love, love, love it. ( It is my most favorite art supply, ever. If you are on Facebook, consider joining this group on Craft Press Alternatives: Folks have found viable options with everything from pasta makers to embossing machines. They are an active and helpful group of printmakers from all over the world, and you’ll get some great ideas there.

  3. Thanks for creating the video Belinda. A friend gave me the link to the You Tube and I added it to my printmaking technique favourites. I have been working with elementary school students teaching them drypoint on plexiglass. It has become a mixed media project as we are applying the colour in after by painting in watercolour. I showed them examples of your work featured in your blog and website as inspiration. Sincerely Brian in Northern Ontario Canada.

  4. I always enjoy your step-by-step photos and your venture into video also provides clear and concise information. I look forward to more. Thank you for sharing.

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