View Full Version : Hand-pulled monoprint lesson

12-09-2001, 01:36 PM
Hope sassybird doesn't mind if I add a little monoprint lesson too? Another cheap, easy, few-tools-needed method.

What you'll need:
1. Any oil-based paints or inks. Water-based printing inks are also available although I don't believe they are colorfast. Acrylic paints can work but dry very quickly so could be frustrating for a beginner, add some medium to acrylics if it's all you have to work with.
2. Brushes or other tools to paint with. Water for acrylics or water-based inks, or turps/spirits for oil based inks.
3. Something to paint on: a piece of glass (tape the edges), a mirror, a piece of perspex, a piece of thick acetate, a copper plate, or even glossy piece of cardboard (can be bought in art shops or you can use varnish to seal any old piece of card).
4. Tape
5. Rags.
6. Paper, as sassybird described, though I find a lighter weight, less textured paper better for monoprints. I use Bockingford or Fabriano watercolor papers.

Okay, easy peasy!

FIRST, tape down your painting surface if it is acetate - just tape it to the table. Then put your paper along the side of your surface, overlapping slightly and tape one side down onto the glass - so it should 'fold' onto the painting surface like a page of a book. You can also put a drawing underneath the surface as a guide if you like.

SECOND, paint! Anything, experiment, put paint on the glass. Fold the paper over it gently and rub with your palm or a spoon to take a print. You can lift an edge to see how it's going and fold the paper away when done. If using a plate, press round the edge of the plate with your thumb to get a nice indented 'plate mark' around the print.

You can repeat painting and taking multiple layers of print onto the paper (that's why we've taped it on, so it stays lined up). Try adding more water or turps to the painting to see how it works on the paper. Try using thicker paint. Try using a rag or paint mover (rubber tipped paintbrush) to wipe away areas on the glass. Try doing a print, letting it dry, then doing another layer later.

THIRD, untape the print and let dry somewhere. Clean off the painting surface with the appropriate cleaner (water or turps). If using acetate you can throw it away if you want, or clean and use again later (think of it as a roll-away table-top!).

FINALLY - When dry, below the image put the number (1 of 1 or 1/1), title and sign it!

-------For those with a press-------
You can take monoprints from any plate. You can put an acetate, metal plate, perspex or glossy cardboard through a press. (NEVER put glass through a press.) It doesn't matter if you use a press or not for monoprinting, it will just give different results due to the pressure of the press. A friend of mine prefers using an etching press for more solid areas of colour, I prefer handprinting with a baren so the texture of the brushstokes is clear.

-------Alternate method-------
Paint the surface completely in paint without any thinner. This works best with an oil-based ink, and let it go slightly tacky. Then fold the paper over it gently and 'draw' on the paper with a blunt object - pencil, end of a brush, etc. Fold the paper back and your drawn image will have transferred to the paper.

Darn, now you'll all know what I sell on eBay. ;)


12-09-2001, 03:03 PM
These little mini-lessons are great! I hope they inspire lots of folks to give it a try! :cool:


12-09-2001, 03:10 PM
Alright, Timelady:clap: :clap:

I was hoping my little lesson would spur others into sharing their favorite technique in printmaking:D Glad you jumped right in!

These lessons will help draw interest in printmaking to those that may have never given it a go, or maybe just learned one technique. Lets spread the propaganda...........lol

12-09-2001, 08:25 PM
Thanks Tina.
I think I'll give that a go next week :)

02-28-2002, 12:23 PM
Thank you! I will read it carefully and than run dwon to my supplier.
I promise, one day I'll show you the result(s).:cat:

03-17-2002, 10:26 AM
Thanks Timelady

that was very helpful, I now understand what a monoprint is - i'll chat up me wife see if i can get some stuff next week :D

many thanks


05-05-2002, 08:07 PM
Hi Tina! :) I have just been reading an excellent book on monotype by Julia Ayres. It's title is just "Monotype". I paint in oils and would like to try a monotype using oils. I have a question that you may be able to answer: is it possible to use canvas paper, or stretched canvas to print on, instead of paper? If so, do you apply gesso to the canvas paper and let it dry first? I was wondering whether you could use canvas paper or a stretched canvas to do a monotype, and then paint further on the print, basically using it as an underpainting and to give you a starting point for an impressionistic or abstract oil painting? The Ayres book has a little bit of information on using oils as a medium for monotype, but doesn't go into the questions I have asked. Maybe you or someone else who is following this thread could give me some information. I thought your mini-lesson was very interesting, and want to try it out for myself soon. Thanks a lot! :)

07-06-2002, 12:53 AM
Hello Kevin, I think you will have a difficult time getting any sort of image by means of a monoprint onto canvas because of the roughness, particularily if you are not using a press. The best effects will come from a smooth or semi-rough cotton-like printing paper, and of course an etching press. Short of a press, and needing to hand-press with a baren or blunt tool, I'd stick to the printing papers, or smoother fabrics. Besides the special look which comes from painting onto glass (or plexiglass), and transferring the image to paper is the 'magic' of a monotype.

The oil paints you use on your canvas paintings are different from the oil based inks you use with monoprints. Make sure you use the oil-inks instead of oil-paints. The inks are very concentrated and sticky.

Julia's book is very good, she does all her printing by hand-tools without a press!

Good luck, Valorie

07-06-2002, 07:59 PM
Hi Valorie! :)

Thanks for the helpful information, and for taking the time to provide it. Best wishes! :)

01-22-2003, 08:57 PM
Thank You for the great information! I have been wanting to try monoprint/monotype thing!

Thanks again!


05-23-2003, 01:38 PM
I just got Julia Ayers book and it's fabulous.

In my recent printmaking course, it became obvious that I was far more adept with lino, mono and collo, so I've given up etching.


05-24-2003, 07:52 AM
Timelady, thank you for the mini lesson. I bought a monotype kit a couple years ago and have played with it only once. I enjoyed it and this lesson gives me better information for trying more.

03-02-2004, 06:48 PM
To Tina the Timelady

thank you for sharing your instructions... and that part about covering the perspex or glass with paint and then getting an image that way.... i will try that next time i have a pallettte covered with paint...after every printing -- should be fun...
strange how we feel about giving away our secrets.... i am tugged that way every so often.... but i do have a very deer oops-- dear.. we do have deer in our back yard as well..... friend who reminds me that we must give away in order to make way for the receiving. Wouldn't it be tragic if we took our secrets in creativity to the grave with us and there they would die...... better others know and grow with them.... furthermore she reminds me that these are only media through which we express ourselves and each of us is different,,,, so you and i given the same materials would produce entirely different works...

that's my threepence worth


03-02-2004, 06:58 PM
to Kevin

regarding canvas for printing... i have very successfully used cotton/polyester broadcloth - bought at the local fabric shop, primed with the cheapest household mat white paint... the $15.00 a gallon stuff instead of gesso. Iron out the centre crease of the broadcloth. and you have a canvas 44 inches wide and infinitely long... then use as paper. i don't have a press but use a push thing to smoosh out the canvas along with the palm of my hands. For my very large prints 4 feet by 6 or so feet, i do buy a heavier canvas,, but still the smoothest i can find prime, and print on that. If i do happen to find pure cotton, I expect that there will be about 10 percent shrinkage when i prime.

happy printing

03-03-2004, 01:21 AM
Don't know if it will work, but I've used paper canvas and pre-prime canvas for regular oil paintings. You might try it and see what happens... :D

I think the "paper canvas" has the texture of canvas, but is more like paper than fabric... I "think" it's pre-primed (at least that is what I assumed, but I was using acrylics, not oils, so I'm not 100% sure...


12-12-2007, 10:35 PM
The oft overlooked tool:

Aside from the inks and papers and all that, keep in mind (when not using a press) your tool for transfering ink to paper is an important part of the process.

I frequently use a dull, flatware knife. I do a variety of rubbing motions with the handle as-well-as the blade: up/down, back/forth, long stroke, short stroke, swirl, shapes, slash, jab, scrape and whatever comes to mind to achieve various effects.


12-13-2007, 12:34 AM
Welcome to the printmaking forum PrintmanDave! Thanks for your suggestion on this thread, and we look forward to further contributions (including pics of your work, if you wish to share!).

Cheers :wave:

12-14-2007, 05:36 PM
Hello Kevin, I think you will have a difficult time getting any sort of image by means of a monoprint onto canvas because of the roughness, particularily if you are not using a press.
Good luck, Valorie

seems as if it would be something worth trying .you could possibly get some very interesting effects for background .....

useing oils I would think you would have to have it sized in some manner . the only other thing that might hold you back would be keeping the canvas in place while using a baren . some one give it a shot and let us know .I would love to but just don't have the time right now.... I have printed on papyrus with a baren and had limited success but outlined with pen and ink it turned out quite nice.

12-28-2007, 03:20 PM
Hi, what a great thread, some years ago I bought a very thick piece of glass from a junk shop, 60x80 cm, took it to the glazier and he smoothed the broken edges for me for a small fee and I have had hours of monoprint fun with it ever since! I put a piece of same sized paper underneath it to use as registration, or tape my printing paper to the edge to keep in the same place. I use all types of paper from cheap cartridge and gift wrapping paper for collage to better quality watercolour paper. I use watercolours flooded onto the glass surface or oil paints thinned with turps or etching inks and also water based printing inks, not all at the same time of course. I draw onto the paper from the back once it is placed over the glass and or do rubbings of my painted images, let them dry and pretty nearly always work back into my pulled image. The prints that are not that great I keep for use in my collage work. This type of print making is very free and easy, great if you are an intuative type or like working in a gestral manner!


03-22-2008, 03:35 PM
i must get more focus and time for read english!!hahahaha
so i just save this web page..and i ll read + practice the methods at home..thx all

03-23-2008, 11:19 AM
take any ordinary broadcloth.paint it with white house paint on roller. let dry then use this as a canvas. mist your block with a fine spray. lay the piece of canvas on the block. press all around then carefully lift one edge. if really is mottly then mist the canvas again first lifting one side, then the other and again press all around firmly.... This has worked wonderfully. so it is the opposite of the usual printing where you use a press and press the block onto the paper or canvas.... this way produces wonderful results..... check out artsmuskoka.com to see just what can be achieved... and for children it is great, great fun....Krysia

03-23-2008, 11:22 AM
P.s. to printing another thought.... first experiment iwth ordinary paper.... computer paper using the same method just to get the hang of it.... and then experiment with colours.... really great fun.... pink moose, blue giraffes, wonderful aurora borealis in the background as the paint moves and blends with the misting.... and children and afults all love this....then use the canvas method.... the broadcloth acts once it is primed with white house paint acts just like fine paper.... Krysia

03-23-2008, 11:25 AM
To Printmaker Dave...

Weren't you part of this forum back in the dark ages about 10 years ago.....

Krysia Me too, just came alive again.... call it reborn

01-06-2010, 08:16 PM
Thank you for the information! Sounds like something I must do.

Diane Cutter
01-07-2010, 07:16 AM
If you do play with this, coolarts, be sure to show us in a separate thread...