Vernis mou

Vernis mou (soft-ground etching) is a printmaking technique used in the graphic arts. In soft-ground etching or vernis mou the printing plate is coated with a soft, sticky lacquer as the etching ground. Rough, grainy drawing paper is laid on this soft ground (hence the name). The artist draws on the paper, using powerful strokes of his chalk or pencil. Wherever the pressure exerted by writing instrument presses it against the etching ground, the etching ground sticks to the paper, leaving the printing plate behind it exposed again. Thus the drawing is transferred indirectly to the printing plate. In the acid bath that follows the exposed parts of the printing plate are etched, with the texture of the paper and the stroke of the writing instrument very subtly preserved. This soft, grainy line and the painterly effects created with it are characteristic of vernis mou prints.