Though the physical exhibition for which it was created is in the past (having ended in January of 2010), the Museum of Art of the Rhode Island School of Design has maintained online an interactive called The Brilliant Line: Following the Early Modern Engraver 1480-1650.
The interactive features 8 Renaissance and Baroque engravings, drawn from those in the exhibition as examples; and allows you to examine them in more detail, along with some background information on the artist and the work.
Unfortunately the interface for viewing the engravings’ details is poorly implemented, limited to a virtual loupe (with your cursor stuck in the center — hello?).
However, the “Analyze Lines” feature, accessed from a button above the images, is worth visiting. It allows you to interactively view layers of lines that have been extracted from the image and isolated by using a set of sliders that can display the layers in various combinations. It’s a fascinating way to look at how the artists have arranged their outlines, hatching and cross hatching in creating the forms and textures of the engraved image.
They have chosen fine examples of engravings for the feature, including Durer’s Madonna with the Pear (images above, top five).
Also of interest is a video, accessed from the upper right of the interface. Introduced by Emily Peters, Curator of the exhibit, in which Andrew Stein Raferty, Consulting Curator for the exhibit and Associate Professor of Printmaking at RISD, steps through the process of making an engraving, in this case based on a drawing he made after a drawing by Primaticcio (images above, bottom five).