Creating a Substitute For Faust Transparent Base Conclusion


Our formula for Transparent Base has been purchased by Hanco Inks and they are manufacturing it in their factory.  It is for sale through Takach Press.

If you would like to make it yourself here’s the recipe:

Ingredients: 1 tsp. Plate Oil 00, 3 tsp. Magnesium Carbonate (MgCO3), and 1/4 tsp. Hanco Setswell *

With a palette knife mix the 1 tsp. Plate Oil 00 with the 1/4 tsp. Hanco Setswell.

Add 1 tsp. of the MgCO3 to the oil/Setswell mixture and blend until completely enveloped.

Add the 2nd tsp. of MgCO3 and again blend until completely enveloped.

Add the 3rd tsp. of MgCO3 and blend until powder is completely enveloped. The mixture at the beginning of this step may seem dry but as you work the MgCO3 into the mixture it will become smooth and buttery.

Now you are ready to modify your inks with this transparent base.

* This is a 1:3:1/4 ratio mixture. One could try larger or smaller quantities within this ratio for similar results.

We found that the ZMP Transparent Base wipes evenly into a range of etched surfaces, from dense aquatint to finer hard ground lines. It is non-oxidizing, meaning one’s inks will have a truer tone than when printed using Faust Transparent Base on copper plates. We tested ZMP Transparent Base on both photopolymer and copper plates. The following prints illustrate how ZMP Transparent Base works with a number of etched surfaces, both on copper and photopolymer.

Print Test:

Plate Material: Copper
Ink: Graphic Chemical Etching Ink Bone Black and ZMP Transparent Base
Press Setting: 5.5
Paper: Hanemeuhle Copper Plate

Print Evaluations:

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The ink mixes into ZMP Transparent Base evenly, with no marbling. There is little tackiness, even with the 75% ink mixture.


The above prints show a gradient test printed with a warm plate and ZMP Transparent Base. On the 25% ink print you can see a very even dilution of tone while maintaining warmth. The 50% and 75% ink prints show how evenly ZMP Transparent Base fills the dense aquatint area. The final print, 100% ink, shows some drop out in the aquatint, where the ink did not fully saturate the area.


The above prints show a gradient test printed with a cold plate and ZMP Transparent Base. Using a cold plate we noticed that the ink filled the aquatint areas even more thoroughly than with the warm plate test. Clear areas showed less plate noise and the tone stayed even on each image. Again, the 100% ink image printed the most unevenly, not fully soaking into the dense aquatint areas.


The above print is a hard ground line drawing printed with a 50/50 mix of ink and ZMP Transparent Base. The ink wiped very easily into the lines, leaving very little plate noise. The ink held well in the softer grey areas on the plate as well.

Plate Material: Photopolymer
Ink: Graphic Chemical Etching Ink Bone Black and ZMP Transparent Base
Press Setting: 5.5
Paper: Hanemeuhle Copper Plate

Print Evaluations:

The following prints are photopolymer images we used for testing ZMP Transparent Base.


The above print is a photopolymer print that used a drawing as the source image. The print illustrates the subtle qualities of the original pencil drawing. The results of this test print were very similar to the above hard ground etching.


photophotoThe above photopolymer image is based on a photograph. We wanted to test ZMP Transparent Base with the broad range of what photopolymer prints can do. Here we can see an even saturation of tone and that ZMP Transparent Basel shows the lighter and fine details clearly.

Plate Material: Photopolymer
Ink: Gamblin Portland Black, Charbonnel 55985, ZMP Transparent Base, and Faust Transparent Base
Press Setting: 5.5
Paper: Hanemeuhle Copper Plate

Print Evaluations:


The above print was made by our resident photopolymer expert, Nancy Diessner. She was one of the biggest fans of Faust Transparent Base in our studio. She tried ZMP Transparent Base and found the results very pleasing. Ms. Diessner noted how the the finer areas of the plate printed clearer with ZMP Transparent Base, in the upper image, than with Faust, in the lower image.

Final Conclusions: Through our research, we have been very satisfied by the results of printing with ZMP Transparent Base. We feel confident that this recipe has exceeded our expectations as a replacement for Faust transparent base. Not only in matching the viscosity and body, but also that ZMP Transparent Base is non-oxidizing, resulting in truer colors. In our studio, we are continuing to experiment and play with both ZMP Transparent Base and the Alumina Hydrate base recipe to fully explore the possibilities in printing that these two recipes have opened up. As we wrap up this experiment, we feel that there is much that can still be discovered with these recipes, and that there is a lot of room to adjust them to the printer’s needs.


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