What is mezzotint? Mezzotint is a type of printmaking process, and dates back to the 1600s. The lights and darks, or tones, of the print are achieved by first laboriously preparing a metal plate, such as copper, using a fine toothed tool called a rocker. The rocker must be "rocked" back and forth over the entire surface of the plate in about 12 directions, systematically creating tiny pits over the plate. To develop the image, varying sizes of burnishers are then used to smooth over the pits to various degrees. The smoother the surface of the plate, the less ink it will hold, yielding a light tone or value. Conversely, if the tooth is left alone, it will hold more ink, and produce a rich, high quality dark.