hard and soft, are acid-resistant waxy or varnish preparations that are applied to copperplates as part of the etching process. The design is worked through the ground to expose the copperplate beneath. With a hard ground, an etching needle is usually used. With a soft ground, which never hardens completely but remains sticky, a variety of tools can be used to create designs on the prepared plate. The entire plate, still covered by the ground, is then dipped into an acid bath, which corrodes the exposed areas of the plate. The ground is removed before the plate is inked and printed.