With a visual result similar to drawing, etched lines are usually free with blunt terminations as a result of the artist drawing with a sharp tool through a soft, often wax-based, coating on the plate. Volume and contour is created using a technique called hatching, where the artist changes the spaces, angles, lengths and qualities of the lines The plate is then placed into an acid bath, where the acid eats away, or "bites" the exposed metal of the incised lines leaving the areas that are coated, untouched. The artist can achieve a broad range of tonality with etching by controlling the time the plate spends in the acid-bath.
Jean-Jacques de Boissieu. Portrait of the artist 1796