The print is composed of two plates, four colors, in two runs. The first plate is the main plate responsible for the upper magenta-tinted black and the lower cyan-tinted black. The second is the color plate, setting the top mountains in a yellow frame and filling “Liu Kuo-sung Blue” to the bottom calligraphic brushstrokes. The two plates alone required three months to create.
While the solid lines and contours were created by the etching needle, the varying shades of diluted ink were created by aquatint, a variant of etching. In aquatint, powdered resin, derived from the sap of pine trees, is applied on the copper plate to control and diminish the effect of acid on the plate. During the application, the plate is placed into an aquatint box, in which powdered resin is blown inside the box and lands evenly on the plate. Areas that do not require the effect of aquatint will have the resin wiped off. The plate is then heated with an alcohol lamp from underneath to melt the resin onto the plate. During biting process, in which the acid bites onto the plate, areas applied with resin are more resistant to acid, and therefore less ink-absorbent during printing, ultimately creating a blurry image, unlike that of conventional etching prints.
The image’s atmosphere comes from the split composition, in which the mountains fade into mist toward the bottom, and are met with abstract calligraphic brushstrokes. The natural edition of contours fading into mist requires the technique of aquatint, and cannot be represented with the etching needle alone.