Direct-to-Plate Photopolymer Gravure

Workshop with Don Messec

Direct-to-Plate Photopolymer Gravure

May 27-31, 2024
Welcome support of

Limited to 8

DTP (Direct-to-Plate) Once learned, DTP becomes an artist-friendly process in that it is more direct, simpler, and unimaginably quicker than classic gravure – without the many toxins and mess of copperplate gravure.

There is something uniquely soulful about gravure prints. It is still seen as a form of alchemy, crushing ink into paper. And because the plate has an emulsion of photopolymers you can go beyond transferring only your photographic images to the plate. You can let DTP open a whole world of mark making and composition that will take your work new places, places that classic gravure never will.

DTP produces gravure quality prints from UV sensitive plates without the need of a vacuum or contact frame, transparency films, screens or carbon tissue, while eliminating the need for multiple baths of Ferric Chloride. There is no longer the need to go through the laborious process of plate masking, etching, etching again and again, deoxidating the plate again and again – then rinse, repeat. And because digital imaging can be exploited to create and enhance content, anything can end up in a plate: drawing, photos, text, collage elements – anything you can get into a digital file can become part of your work.

Using any one of many Epson inkjet printers, including X900 printers you will be able to print your image directly onto a plate’s emulsion before exposure. This does not require special inks, Epson’s OEM pigment inks work. It is even possible that the latest artists’ quality (not office quality) dye based inks will work. Plus, because of direct-to-plate, it is now possible to expose directly in the sun, or under fluorescent UV lights as well as point light sources to great effect. Results are far more reliable and repeatable than transparency-based exposures. All this adds up to a process that is creatively dialectic by getting to the print much sooner.

Getting to the print sooner gets you from the plate making process to the art-making process with more energy and experimentation when creating interpretive prints. If desired by the class I will add an explanation and demonstration on making film positives which can be the simplest way to add most any manufacturer’s printer to photopolymer gravure.

Lets talk about polymer plates – what’s going on?

To begin with, there are a number of plates available for Dan Welden’s approach, and Direct to Plate, as well as ImagOn. Sure, some plates that we have loved are gone, and likely for good. But there have always been choices. Made by different manufacturers, these photopolymer products all basically work the same with modestly differing characteristics. To the degree possible, we will engage on this in the workshops. And for those who later want to make their own plates, ImagOn film is available.

Gallery of Direct to Plate prints here.

For a short history and explanation of photopolymer gravure plus additional examples please visit here.

What’s Included

Plates sizes for the workshop are 8×10″ or 8×12, the later size matches the 2/3 ratio of most digital camera sensors. Squares of 8×8″ can be cut from 8×10″. Your fees include 4 plates. The studio includes digital printer, printing presses, printing inks and etching paper, a few computers for studio use along with all the other common tools and materials for making photopolymer plates and prints.

What to Bring

  1. Source materials such as digitized drawings and digital photographs in any of the following formats – PSD, jpg, TIFF, RAW. It is important that you bring original unaltered files in addition to your processed or manipulated versions. It can be more than useful to go back to an unmodified original to re-interpret or re-work the image once you how the process impacts the image.
  2. Optional, digital camera if you have one. Of course you will take pictures and video! Yes, you can bring film, too. I have an arrangement for developing and scanning.
  3. Jump drive (thumb drive or other portable read/write media)
  4. Laptop which should have current versions of Photoshop or Lightroom or ON1 RAW, and TK Luminosity Masks, are all useful. If you do not have any of this software please download a trial version for the workshop. We have some studio use Macs, but not enough to cover everyone’s full-time needs.
  5. Large enough luggage or box to pack prints with stiff protector (cardboard or mat board). Rough paper will be torn down to approximately 11×15”

Registration includes a reasonable amount of materials and supports an extensive array of communal shop needs, costs and consumables.

That’s it! Any questions about supplies, please feel free to contact us.

Workshop Itinerary

  • Monday morning begins with students arriving at the studio between 9:30-10 AM.
  • Daily instruction is 10 AM to 4 PM with the studio open to students between 9:30 AM and 7 PM. Exception is Friday when the workshop ends at 4 PM.
  • Bring a lunch everyday except Wednesday, when we go out Dutch for a late lunch. COVID dependent.
  • If opportunity and conditions collide we may get to add a photo excursion.


Save Your Spot!

Registration Form

No deposit required!