The first mezzotints date from the middle of the seventeenth century: discovery of the technique is usually credited to a German soldier,   Prince Rupert's mezzotint, known as the 'Great Executioner', 1658 Ludwig von Siegen, in 1642, and the first production of mezzotints to Prince Rupert in the 1650s. By the 1660s knowledge of the technique was widely known. Mezzotint prints are distinctive in that, unlike in the other two intaglio processes, the engraver worked from dark to light. First the plate was roughened with a rocker, a blade with teeth that was run over the entire plate repeatedly. If the plate was inked in this rough state it would have printed a rich black. The design was created by the engraver smoothing out parts of the plate with a scraper or a burnisher; the smoother the area the less ink it would hold. In this way tone could be created: light burnishing of an area would print dark grey, heavy scraping would print light grey. The inking of the resulting plate was a skilled and complex task; the printing process that followed was the same as for engravings and etchings. Because of their highly worked nature, mezzotint plates became worn by the printing process more quickly than either engravings or etchings, and so it was not uncommon for the printmaker to regularly rework the plate during the printing process. Mezzotints are very easy to distinguish from the other three techniques described here because of their absence of lines and their tonal quality.