USING Akua Intaglio

Table of Contents

Ink Consistency
Modifying the ink
Mixing Colors
Wiping the plate
Printmaking Paper
Re-Soaking Prints
Print Drying Times
Cleaning Up
Trouble Shooting

Ink Consistency

Akua Intaglio will never harden or form a skin in the container when left uncovered. It is different from traditional inks in that it has a buttery consistency. The ink consistency varies depending upon the pigment and temperature conditions. The ink will be stiffer when cold and looser when warm.

Separation occurs, therefore mixing is necessary before using.
Place the ink knife directly in the ink container and stir. Mix well from the bottom of the container to the top. It is also very important to stir the ink regularly during the whole printing session.

  • Open the jar and stir the ink thoroughly from bottom to top.
  • Take the amount of ink that you need for about one hour and put it on a glass slab.
  • Stir the ink left out on the slab regularly (about every half hour)

Modifying Akua Intaglio Inks

Akua Mag Mix to Stiffen the Ink

If a stiffer consistency is desired, add Akua Mag Mix.

  • Before mixing, work the Mag Mix with the ink knife until it’s smooth.
    Note: Blending Medium can also be added to Akua Mag Mix if it is too stiff to work.
  • Then add Akua Intaglio Ink into the Mag Mix.
  • Start with small amounts until the desired thickness is achieved.

Akua Mag Mix

Mixing Akua Intaglio into Akua Mag Mix

Blending Medium to Loosen the Ink

The following techniques work best when the ink is loose: silk aquatint, four color intaglio-type and direct painting monotypes.

  • Add drops of Akua Liquid Pigment Blending Medium to suit.

Making the Original Formula Similar to the New Formula
Original formula Akua Intaglio ink can be made stiff like the new formula by adding Akua Mag Mix. It can also be made more intense in color by adding Akua Kolor.

  • Add Akua Mag Mix to stiffen
  • A few drops of Akua Liquid Pigment will enrich the color

Note: This will make it similar to the new formula but not exactly the same.

Making the New Formula Similar to the Original Formula
New formula Akua Intaglio ink can be made loose like the original by adding Blending Medium. It can also be made more transparent like the original with the addition of Transparent Base.

  • Mix equal parts of new ink and Transparent Base
  • Add about 3 drops Blending Medium per tablespoon to above mixture to loosen ink.

Transparent Base

Akua Transparent Base is a soy based intaglio or relief ink base without the pigment. Add Akua Liquid Pigment and create new custom colors.

  • Add Akua Liquid Pigment into Transparent Base by the drop.
  • No set amount of color is needed, it depends on the artist for their choice of color intensity or transparency.
  • Cleans up with soap and water

Akua Intaglio Transparent Base

Mixing Colors

With a more extensive range of 28 colors, Akua Liquid Pigment can be mixed into  Akua Intaglio inks and/or Transparent Base to create various new colors for intaglio or relief printmaking.

  • Add Akua Liquid Pigment in small amounts
  • Akua Liquid Pigment will actually create a stiffer consistency

Akua Intaglio inks can also be mixed with one another to create new colors.

Mixing Ink for the Four Color Process

The Four Color Process requires the ink to be transparent and loose.  Suggested colors are: Hansa yellow, Crimson or Scarlet Red, Phthalo Blue and Carbon Black.

The ink mixture for the 4 Color Process is:

  • Equal amounts of Akua Intaglio Ink and Akua Intaglio Transparent Base
  • Add about 3 drops Blending Medium per tablespoon to loosen ink.

David Jay Reed cards the ink on the plate

Wiping the plate

Akua Intaglio is very soft ink. It applies and wipes off the plate much easier and quicker than oil-based inks. Therefore, at first there may be a tendency to remove too much ink. For best results, use soft tarlatan or Akua Wiping Fabric to wipe the surface of the plate. Roll the wiping fabric into a large ball shape. Follow through with a paper wipe if necessary. Be careful not to press your fingers into the inked surface of the plate. Since the ink is soft, it will transfer fingerprint impressions easily.

Selecting Printmaking Paper

Most printmaking papers work well with Akua Liquid Pigment inks. Our favorite is Arnhem 1618 for both printing with an etching press and hand printing with a Pin Press.

Dry Paper recommended for Monotype & Relief and sometimes intaglio plates
Printing on dry paper offers higher contrast prints. It also eliminates the possibility of paper shrinkage making it ideal for printing multi-registered plates or combining prints with digital ink jet or letterpress images. Increase the pressure of the press and use soft absorbent printmaking paper, such as Arches 88 when printing without a press. If the print results are blotchy or inconsistent it may be necessary to dampen the paper for intaglio plates.

Damp Paper recommended for intaglio
Printing on damp paper may offer greater tonal values and more consistent print results for aquatints. Deeply etched plates require soaking to soften the paper. Soak the paper and blot thoroughly before using.

Re-Soaking Prints

Akua Intaglio ink is permanent. If necessary, prints may be placed in a tray of water immediately after printing. Do not soak prints too long and be careful not to touch the image while wet. An easy approach would be to spray the back of the print with a water mister and store in a plastic bag.

Print Drying Times

Akua Intaglio ink does not contain toxic cobalt dryers. How long the prints take to dry will depend on the type of paper used and how thick the ink was applied Akua Intaglio Ink dries by absorbing into the fibers of the printmaking paper. If heavy applications of ink are used it will be necessary to dry the prints by pressing them between blotters. A newsprint pad works great for blotting and storing prints. Akua ink will not harden so don’t worry about the ink drying and sticking to the paper. If wet ink offsets onto the blotter, a light coat of baby powder will dry the ink on the blotters so they can be reused.

Cleaning Up

First, clean all materials, rollers, and plates with a dry rag, then with liquid dish soap right from the bottle. For final clean-up, water can be used. A rough textured rag works better than a smooth rag. Never add water directly in the inks, water causes the ink to stiffen and makes clean up more difficult.

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Print dries milky gray instead of black

  • Stir the ink thoroughly from top to bottom in jar before using
  • Stir the ink on the glass slab after each half hour
  • Paper may be too wet (blot before using)

Ink dries too dark on the print

  • Add Transparent Base to the ink to reduce the color intensity.

Print dries too matte

  • Print dry or with paper that is less damp

Etched lines bleed on finished print

  • Paper may be too wet (blot before using)
  • Try different papers

Heavily inked prints dry slowly

  • Add Magnesium Carbonate to the ink
  • Dry prints between blotters

Ink wipes out from incised lines

  • Ink may be too loose (stiffen the ink with Akua Mag Mix)

Print lacks plate tone

  • Print on damp paper
  • Wipe with less pressure (plate may be over wiped)

Print has too much plate tone

  • Print on dry paper
  • Wipe more thoroughly

Prints dry blotchy

  • Dampen the paper
  • Avoid touching the inked surface of the plate and transferring fingerprints


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