I always start out doing a reasonably detailed drawing before starting a print. I used to do my drawing on opaque paper, trusting that when the image was flipped (as it is when you make a plate based print) but my trust was not usually fulfilled. Not only do our eyes tend to like a composition weighted more to one side (I believe towards the left) than the other, lines that you think are vertical in one direction turn out not to be when they are flipped. So, I started doing my drawings on drafting vellum, so that I could use a light table and place the translucent polymer plates on them to paint on each plate. I can then do my key plate and stack other plates one on top of another (up to 3 at a time) so that the plates will be registered to one another. To keep the plates in place, I use stick on “photo corners” (1~ 1/4″ size) to hold the plates in place. Registration is important if you are working on multiple plates, or a planning to add monotype layers to your print, particularly for representational images.
This is an example of the printing registration templates I make in order to have everything line up properly on the paper. The plate rests face up on the inner marks and the paper is placed face down over the inked up plate lining up with the outer marks. The whole shebang goes through my Takach Etching press at firm, but not intense, pressure.
Here are the resulting printings from plates 3 (green) and 4 (red-orange).
One more plate tomorrow (of 7 plates, total)