Glossary of terms used throughout the website


Aquatint is an etching technique that results in a watercolour effect.

Resin particles are either dusted or applied directly onto a metal plate. The metal plate is then heated to allow for the resin to melt and fuse onto the plate. The solidified resin forms a porous protective ground that, upon contact with an acid, results in tiny grooves around the melted resin particles capable of holding low viscosity ink. The resin can be dusted either by hand or by using a dust-box for a more even effect.

In addition to traditional stopping out methods, at various stages the solidified resin can be scraped to produce the desired tonal effect.

A la poupée

A ball-shaped piece of fabric or leather is used to apply ink onto a matrix. The result is characteristically unique on each impression.


The Drypoint technique is a variant of engraving where a line is traced on the matrix using a sharp tool such as those mentioned in the “engraving” term.

The tool is held like a pencil, which displaces a “burr” on the sides of the line. The burr can hold ink and produces a rich “feathered” effect when printed. The burr is a very thin sliver of the matrix material and naturally it cannot withstand the repeated passes through a printing press, resulting in very few prints that feature the distinctive rich drypoint line.

To counter the wear, metal plates can be steel-faced to reenforce the burr against pressure and allow for a greater number of prints to be made.


The total number of final prints, usually numbered 1,2,3… followed by a “/” slash and then the total number of prints in the edition.


Engraving is the process of producing a print by creating a design on a hard, flat surface, by carving into it.

On a solid matrix, a comparatively harder tool is used to cause indentations or grooves. The result is an engraved matrix (design) which can hold ink in the indentations. In order to achieve this, nails, roulettes, boules, chisels, diamond tipped glass cutters or burins can be used. Burins in particular are usually shaped with a U, V or flat edge that requires sharpening to maintain its efficacy. By using a burin the artist avoids the line burr preferred in drypoint.


Etching is the technique of creating prints from a metal plate (copper, zinc or steel) by using chemicals such as acid or a mordant (dye fixative). Since Nikolaos Ventouras had studied chemistry he was able to experiment with all sorts of corrosions achieving remarkable results.

A variety of acids are involved, either alone or as a mixture. Usually Nitric, Sulphuric or Hydrochloric acid is used to corrode the reactant matrix. Traditionally parts or the entire metal plate is protected using an acid resistant ground. In the former, wax or acrylic varnish is applied either with a brush to create a shape leaving the rest of the metal plate exposed, or the entire plate is covered with a ground and using a sharp tool parts of the ground are removed, exposing the shape on the plate. The plate is then immersed in an acid bath and allowed to corrode. Using the former method, an extruded shape is revealed where the design was drawn using a ground and in the latter, an indentation is made along the exposed shape akin to a traditional engraving. The corrosion effect is called an acid bite on the reactant matrix.

The process can be repeated and stopped out multiple times.


Intaglio refers to the artists work incised on a hard surface in order to be printed. It is the opposite of “Relief Print

A “carrier” recession is made on a matrix that holds ink in the intended shape. Drypoint, engraving, etching and aquatint are all subtractive techniques intended to cause relief on a matrix. Subsequently ink is applied on the surface and rubbed into the indentations by hand or using a dabber. Before printing, the matrix is wiped clean, leaving ink only inside the recessions. A sheet of paper is moistened to avoid cracking and to enable the paper fibres to flex in and around the relief and allow the transfer on ink.

Typically a plate mark indentation or cuvette is seen along the edges of the resulting prints.


Monotype refers to the technique of creating a subtractive image in order to create the print.

On a smooth non porous matrix, ink is applied to draw shapes. The surface can be anything such as glass, zinc or copper. The matrix is then pressed against a sheet of paper and a unique impression is made. A small amount of ink may be left on the matrix that can be either used to create a “ghost image” cleaned to allow the matrix to be used again.


Printmaking refers to the process of transferring the design from the matrix to paper.

A matrix, otherwise known as plate, is usually of limestone, wood, acrylic, glass or metal, such as copper, zinc, steel or aluminium. The matrix is used to produce the intaglio or lift ground design which will be transferred through oil or water-based ink into a sheet of fabric or paper, wet or dry, causing a mirrored impression. The result is called an impression or a print and is considered the final artwork.

Stages or States

Stages, States or Phases refers to the development of the artist’s work.

At various stages during the development of a matrix, the artist may wish to record the progress. The result is titled a stage or state, followed by a number or letter.

Nikolaos Ventouras would often revisit his work days or even years later in order to achieve the desired result.

Stopping out

Parts of the shape can be protected at various stages during the etching process using a ground before submerging into an acid bath. The intent is to create different tones or highlights.

Sugar-lift aquatint

Sugar-lift aquatint or sugar aquatint is a version of aquatint where a high viscosity mixture of sugar and India ink is applied by brush to draw shapes on a metal plate. When the sugar/ink mixture is dry, a ground such as liquid asphalt is used to coat the plate. Once dry, the entire plate is submerged in warm water so that the sugar/ink mixture can expand and lift off from under the protective ground leaving the initial design exposed. The plate can then be inked and aquatinted as with a normal aquatint.

Trial Proof

The trial proof is a print outside the edition, usually serving as a trial during the working on the matrix. Trial proofs are usually indicated using incremental letters.