Rembrandt’s Etching Process
You can etch with or without acid. In drypoint printmaking, images are etched onto a plate dry – without acid – so the tools directly unsmoothify the copper plate so it can be inked, and printed onto paper in an un-wet humorless non-boozy sort of way. With other etching processes, the plate is protected by a thin layer of wax, and scratching at the plate removes the wax in lines or soft areas. An acid bath (spa day!) eats into the plate in areas that have been exposed, producing textures where the ink will hold, and then be released when pressed into the paper. It is a patient, quiet, and lovely process.
Don’t think etching is only for perfectionists. Another way of etching a copper plate is to skid it across a dirty linoleum floor. Lovely lines. No, that doesn’t count as a linoleum print.