Mezzotint is a method of producing prints that was developed in the seventeenth century. A metal printing plate is roughened by scratching a tool across the surface to leave an even burr. When ink is applied to the plate, the burr holds it, and if a sheet in this state is printed at this stage, the resulting impression is entirely black. An image is created by smoothing parts of the abraded surface so that when ink is applied, the smoother areas do not have such a strong ink-holding capacity, and therefore do no leave such a dark impression. A mezzotint printmaker, therefore, works from dark to create light. Mezzotint produces high quality prints, as it allows for fine and subtle tones to be developed.