A printing method which utilized engraved cylinders or, infrequently, cylinder-mounted plates as the image carriers. The image areas are etched into the surface of the cylinder as a collection of tiny cells. The cylinder rotates in an ink fountain and ink collects in the cells, the excess ink being scraped from the non-image areas by a doctor blade.
The paper (or other substrate) is passed between the gravure cylinder and a rubber-coated impression roller, and ink is transferred by a combination of capillary action and the pressing of the substrate into the engraved cells of the cylinder, helped by the rubber surface of the impression roller. Most gravure printing today is web-fed rotogravure printing, with occasional sheetfed use. Gravure is also well-suited to the printing of packaging on a variety of non-paper substrates.