Difference Between Etching and Engraving

The world is full of complexities and sturdy interchangeable terms. Only certain aspects can often get combined. The etching and engraving are under this. Both the process delivers compatibility with different metal surfaces and produce clear things. The etching and engraving are two different terms with some similarities.

Etching vs Engraving

The main difference between etching and engraving is that the process. The etching is a chemical process, and the engraving is a physical process. The etching is the art of creating the image by using acid that removes the metal. Engraving is a technique used by artists with a sharp and pointed tool to cut the surface. The etching requires less physical effort compared to engraving that needs more physical effort. The etching is a perfect fit for small items, and engraving is suitable for big things.

Etching vs Engraving

The etching is a traditional printing process. It uses a strong acid to remove the unwanted parts from the metal. Modern manufacturing includes some new materials.
It is one of the famous techniques for printmaking and is using till today. Microfabrication etching and photochemical milling are the modern alternatives crucial techniques. It includes the circuit boards. A pure etching plate is used in traditional methods.

Engraving is a method of creating designs on hard or flat surfaces. It is achieved by removing grooves into them with a burin. The received object is decorated with gold, silver, and steel. Then it is printed on the paper as images or illustrations. The obtained images are called engravings. It is one of the oldest techniques in printmaking and is popular among others. The engraving method of printmaking is a historical technique. For old black and white print, the engraving method is used widely.

Comparison Table Between Etching and Engraving

Parameters of ComparisonEtchingEngraving
ProcessThe etching is a chemical processThe engraving is a physical process
NatureEtching uses acid to remove the metals.Engraving uses sharp and pointed tools to remove metals.
Physical effortEtching requires less physical effortEngraving needs more physical effort
Size of objectEtching fits for small objectsEngraving suits for large objects.
MaterialsEtching is used in metalsEngraving is used in metals, woods, and plastics

What is Etching?

Etching is a popular technique for the decorative process. The etched carnelian beads are famous and expensive. Those are found in the Indus valley civilization in the 3rd millennium BCE. These carnelian beads are made by alkaline etching. The alkaline etching is developed by Harappan. These beads are precious to denote the importance of etching in Indus valley civilization. The etched beads are also found in ancient Egypt.

Daniel Hoper is the one who invented printmaking. He is from Germany. The etching is a method of creating prints from metal flat surfaces. The acid-plated copper metal is called etching ground. Through this, a design is drawn by a sharp tool and then exposed to acids. The plate must be beeswax and resin resistant. The acids remove the unwanted metals, and finally, the design is created.

The etching was used for decorating in the fourteenth century. In the sixteenth century, it is used for printmaking. The soft ground etching method uses a non-drying resist to avoid mistakes. The photo etching is called photogravure, which is produced by printing the plate with sensitive acids and then being exposed to light. The light reproduces the image. Hard ground is essential in etching. The ground is made of hard waxy resist acid. The end product is precious in etching.

What is Engraving?

Engraving is a method of making prints with sharp tools. The design is produced by cutting the unwanted metals that process is called a burin. The modern copper plates are a better example of engraving. The method of making copperplates is called copperplate engraving. There are some other terms in engraving. They are line engraving that generates the line markers. The colors are painted by cross-hatching.

The engraving is originated in Germany in the middle of the fifteenth century. Martin Schongauer is the first engraving artist. He is not only a goldsmith but also a painter. In this method, the sharp tools are the workers. The process of removing the unwanted metals by using pointed tools is called incising. The metal plate is inked after the incising. In the burin process, The metal plates are pressed. Copper is the ideal metal widely used for engraving.

The etching can be used to make all types of complex patterns. It requires more physical effort to cut the unwanted metal surfaces. The engraving method is expensive, and the process takes more time to complete. The choosing of metal is difficult in the engraving technique. The soft metal will get vulgar in image processing, and the hard metal requires more effort to press the images.

Main Differences Between Etching and Engraving

  1. The etching is a chemical process, and the engraving is a physical process.
  2. Etching uses acid to remove the metals, and engraving uses sharp and pointed tools to remove metals.
  3. Etching requires less physical effort, and engraving needs more physical effort.
  4. Etching fits for small objects and engraving suits for large objects.
  5. The etching technique is used in metals, and the engraving method is used in metals, woods, and plastics.


Etching and engraving are two different techniques for printmaking.
They both are cutting the unwanted metal surfaces. Unlike engraving, etching does not require more physical effort. They both have distinct nature of printmaking. The engraving method uses sharp tools to make the design on the metal surface. It is complex to choose the correct metal in the engraving method. Both the process is used for the same purposes. The etching is a chemical process, and the engraving is a physical process. The best method depends on the metal you choose.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=fnhpAwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=etching+and+engraving&ots=chkJOQgKy-&sig=K8wgXWHVbaCb8sSbNz8b2LtrjfQ
  2. https://brill.com/view/title/26173
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