How to Make a Monotype Print

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 1 Supplies

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting.

A monotype is a traditional fine art print made by pressing a piece of paper (often a damp sheet) against a painted or inked surface. It's a technique that's easy to learn and something done easily in your own kitchen. The plate used for a monoprint only exists once, so each monoprint is unique. While additional prints can be made if the plate still has enough paint on it, the second print will vary substantially from the first.

This tutorial on how to make a monotype print was photographed and written by B.Zedan, and reprinted with permission. B.Zedan describes herself as "a multi-media packrat, an avid collector of broken things and artistic techniques". For more of B.Zedan's work, take a look at her website and Flickr photostream.

See also: How to Make a Monoprint in 7 Steps

These are the supplies you'll need to make a monotype print:

  • Monotype Paint. I use Createx monotype paints; if you're going to get into mono printing, then they're a good investment. (Buy Direct)
  • Watercolor pencils. They are a great thing to own, no matter how insecure you are in your art skills.
  • Tempera Paint. Most people have experience with this stuff. Households with kids have it. You want a paint that can be cleaned up with water, and that is the point of tempera. (Buy Direct)
  • Paper. Most will work, but watercolor paper works best. You want something that is absorbent and strong. (Buy Direct)
  • Brayer. It's like a mini-rolling pin and mostly it's just art nerds who own them. (Buy Direct)
  • If you haven't got a brayer, you'll need a rolling pin. More households will have a rolling pin than a brayer. I've got a marble one, found in a thrift shop. If you have a heavy one, that is ideal.
  • If you haven't got a rolling pin, you'll need a wooden spoon. Pretty much everyone has a wooden spoon. This can do the same thing as a brayer or a rolling pin -- rub/squish or, in fancy words, burnish.
  • Assorted Brushes.
  • . I'm using 120, a medium grit.
  • Piece of Plastic or Plexiglass. You want a non-porous surface to serve as the plate for the print. This is the most difficult thing to find is a piece of plastic or plexiglass; an old picture frame is one source. You could use glass, but I don't like to mess with it.

You can also use unflavored gelatin to make a plate. Basically you boil it up, pour it in a baking tray, then leave it to set. The disadvantage is that only keeps a few days.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 2 Sand your Plate

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

Using medium or relatively fine sandpaper (I'm using 120), rough up the surface of your plate. This will give it a little tooth, which allows for stronger color. If you apply a thin layer of liquid hand-soap with a brush after you've sanded and leave this to dry before you paint on the plate, this will help your colors transfer well to the paper.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 3 Mark the Paper Outlines

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

Mark the outlines of your paper on the plate. I'm using a watercolor pencil, so it can be removed later.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 4 Guidance Marks

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

These marks will give you a guide when you start designing the print, and when you go to transfer it to the paper.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 5 Mark the Edges of the Reference Picture

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

If you are using a reference picture, or you've got a drawing you will be working from (like a coloring book), lay it under your plate and mark where its edges are. I've removed the blue backing of the plastic so that I can see my reference photo more clearly.

See Also:
• Reference Photos for Artists

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 6 Tape the Reference Picture

How to Make a Monotype Print
Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

Flip over your plate and using the marks you just made as a guide, tape your reference picture to the back of the plate. This way it won't go slip-sliding around when you're working.

See Also:
• Reference Photos for Artists

07
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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 7 Start Drawing

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

Start drawing or painting. Remember Shrinky-Dinks? It's pretty similar here, but I'm using watercolor pencils to mark out my design.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 8 Add Paint

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

Slap some paint on. This is the tempera.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 9 First Down is the Clearest

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

Remember, the first thing you put down will be the clearest thing in the print. It is the reverse of painting, you can't cover things up with paint.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 10 Check Your Progress

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

Check your progress often. The unique aspect of a monotype is that the plate can never be replicated.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 11 Reverse Side of the Plate

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

Here is my finished plate, from the side I've been painting on.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 12 Preview of the Print

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

This is the back side of the plate. Looking at the back will give you a good idea what your print will turn out like. When you're done, let the paint dry. If you try to print it wet it will squish.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 13 Wet the Paper

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

Wet your paper by sticking it in a shallow container of water and letting it sit from five to 10 minutes, depending on the paper you're using. If you have wimpier paper (not watercolor), wet it for a shorter time or use a spray bottle.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 14 Blot the Paper

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

Blot your paper with a clean towel or dishcloth. You want a shine of wetness, through and through, not soaking and not bone dry.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 15 Lay Down the Paper

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

Lay your paper down on your plate. Hold one end as you do so, being careful to line it up with your previous marks.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 16 Don't Move the Paper

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

There, your paper is down. Don't try to shift it or anything once you have it on the plate, that will smear it up horribly.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 17 Using a Brayer

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

If you're using a brayer, go at it, starting at the center and working to the edges.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 18 Using a Rolling Pin

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

If you're using a rolling pin rather than a brayer, there is really no explanation needed. Remember to work from the center out.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 19 Using a Wooden Spoon

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

If you are using a wooden spoon instead of a brayer or rolling pun, rub it across the paper in small circular motions, from the center out, 'burnishing' the whole surface. It can be a little tricky, because you have a smaller tool than a rolling pin or brayer, but it works just as well.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 20 Peek at the Print

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

Take a peek after you've burnished the print. Keep a hand on the paper, so the whole thing doesn't come up. If there are spots missing, carefully lay it back down and go at it some more.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 21 Pull a Print

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

When you've got it all burnished, peel the paper off the plate. In the industry this is called "pulling a print". You'll see there are some dubious spots in my print; I'll fix that in a second.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 22 Touching Up the Print

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

While everything is still wet, I'm going over the dubious spots with a brush and a little water, pushing and/or moving the paint to where I want it.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 23 Make a Ghost Print

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

There is probably still some ink on your plate. If you want, you can make a ghost print. Do the printing process again, with a new piece of paper. The resulting print is much lighter and spottier. The patchiness can be good though, depending on what you want.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 24 The Prints

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

And there are the prints. The watercolor pencil didn't transfer very well, so I'll be touching it up.

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How to Make a Monotype Print: Step 25 The Final Result

How to Make a Monotype Print
Have fun with this creative and easy-to-learn 'variation' of painting. Photo: © B.Zedana (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved, Used With Permission)

After adding some touch-up with watercolor pencil and ink, I'm done.