Monoprinting

Student black and red monoprint of a horse
Monoprinting is a good technique for creating spontaneous and expressive print work

Monoprinting is the process of making a print using ‘mark making’.

Mark making is any mark made using any material on any surface, such as:

  • pencil on paper
  • photoshop brush mark on a screen
  • scratch in clay
  • paint on a canvas

A mark can be a line, a dot, a scratch, a curve, a thumbprint and so on. Using different tools can help create different thicknesses and types of marks.

The colour used to create monoprints is usually water-based ink. A roller is used to apply the ink evenly over the a printing sheet. This is usually an acrylic sheet or other washable flat surfaces.

Monoprinting methods

There are two methods to create a monoprint:

Additive

Draw patterns, shapes and designs directly onto an inked surface, usually an acrylic sheet. Gently lay a piece of paper on top of the inked surface to pick up the design.

Subtractive

Apply the paper, face down, directly to the inked acrylic surface and draw out your design on the back of the piece of paper whilst it is in position. The pressure will lift ink from the acrylic sheet to leave an image of what you have drawn on your paper.

Uses

Student monoprint of cups and saucers
Monoprints work well for simple designs with just one or two colours

Monoprinting is mainly used for fine art prints and textiles work.

It is used for single prints or very small ‘runs’. Only a very limited amount of prints can be created this away as each print removes a layer of ink from the acrylic sheet.

The most successful monoprints are simple designs. They are usually limited to one colour, however you can put more than one colour onto your acrylic sheet.

This is a loose and imprecise way of working. It is a good way of creating prints spontaneously.

There are some key points to bear in mind to make sure your monoprints turn out well:

  • Always make sure your printing sheet is dry before applying water-based ink. If the sheet is not dry your ink will water down and you will not get a ‘crisp’ print.
  • If you find that your monoprints are too dark and the detail isn’t visible, too much ink has been applied to the acrylic sheet. You may need to blot off the ink using a piece of paper.

curriculum-key-fact
  • Always clean printing equipment as soon as possible after use.
  • Take care because every mark you make will transfer to the print, including thumbprints.