Drypoint Etching

In this exercise, students extended and explored the work completed in Mapping Country. The painted lines, shapes and forms were used as inspiration for drypoint etching on to a recycled CD surface and used to produce prints with a range of ink intensities.


This activity was conducted in studioFive at MGSE as part of our Master of Teaching course.


  • Indigenous Australian countries and nations
  • Mapping Country
  • Abstraction to line
  • Abstraction to texture

Skills and Techniques

  • Drypoint etching
  • Intaglio printing techniques
  • Etching press use


  • Compact Discs
  • Mid to heavy weight paper stocks
  • Safe wash etching ink


Students are given a compact disc and etching tools as well as their Mapping Country artworks to respond to. They select a section or shapes and textures within their mapping works to represent in the circular format of the compact disc.

Each student works individually to etch a design on to the reflective side of the CD. A demonstration can be helpful to show the kinds of techniques that can be used in etching, how textures can be built up and the depth of impressions that are required.

Once the etched designs are complete, students use safe wash etching ink to prepare their CDs before selectively removing the surface ink. Once ready, the CD is placed on the etching press. Pre-wet paper is squeegeed dry and placed on top of the CD and the plate is rolled through the press.

Students remove and assess the printed result – making adjustments to ink levels and press pressures as required.

Students sign, name and number their prints in an edition.

Art Connections

This exercise encourages students to consider how to render the themes and imagery of their paintings into printable forms. The intaglio print format offers opportunities and restrictions that students must navigate within and around.

VCD Connections

This exercise can be utilised within the visualisation and idea generation phases of the design cycle. The refinement and simplification of concepts required for printing helps students resolve complicated drawings into forms more suitable for design communication works.

Related Artists

Next Steps

Following lessons can extend these concepts by:

  • The etched CDs can be used in developing sculptural pieces.
  • The completed prints can be drawn or painted into – adding colour, line and shape in and around the circular print.
  • The circular print format can be used as a starting point for a sculptural response to be placed at the centre of the piece.
  • The prints can be scanned into Illustrator and used towards developing logo and graphic designs.