DIY: Quick, cheap, and easy monotype prints

The other night I made some monotype prints. A monotype is a print that’s made by pressing paper against an inked or painted surface.

It’s slightly different from a monoprint. Basically a monotype uses a featureless plate that would result in one unique print, while a monoprint uses a plate with permanent features like texture or lines that will persist in each print, depending on how the plate was inked before the printing process. This link explains it in more detail.

Since I have little patience and even less moolah, I’ve revised the usual way of doing monotype print (meaning it usually involves a brayer and a glass sheet/plexiglass which I don’t have). I’m sharing my quick, easy, and cheap monotype tutorial with you!

What you’ll need:

– Watercolor paint in tubes. Or if you want it to not dry up so fast, try oil paint.

– Palette knife (optional-you can also use a chopstick, a straw, a blunt knife, old credit cards or old call cards, ballpen cap, matches, or none at all, since I primarily used my fingers heh)

– Flat plastic packaging (recycle! I used the plastic from the art paper but if you have extra plastic cover that will also probably work), use only one side, so for the plastic packaging, cut it so that you’ll have two plastic sheets

– Sturdy tape (I used strong paper tape which I got from Daiso)

– Paper for making prints (I used plain oslo paper, and neon construction paper)

– Newspaper for the mess

– Brush (optional)


1. You’ll be using the plastic sheet as your pseudo-plexiglass surface. This is your printing plate. Stick it to the newspaper and stick it again to a smooth surface using your tape. Or not. I stuck mine to the newspaper atop my yoga mat since that’s where I craft (and eat and do yoga but that’s another story)

2. Squeeze your paint directly onto your plastic sheet. Or you can mix up the colors that you want first, but this is how I did mine:


I squeezed all the colors I wanted here onto the plastic sheet:


3. Now the fun begins! Using the palette knife or whatever tool you want), move the paint around the plastic sheet to make your design. Work fast, or the paint might dry! I just made random swirls. Imagine you’re the great artist Rafael Pacheco and try finger painting, which is what I did. Highly enjoyable and relaxing as well. I like the feeling of making a creative mess with my hands:


Interlude: My messy hands:


The top of my paper tape was waxy, so that’s what I used as a makeshift mixing plate:


4. When you’re happy with your design, it’s time to create your print! They often said that the paper should be damp, but I didn’t have a spray bottle for the water or a huge flat pan so I used dry paper. Try working with damp paper next time, and make sure you pat it into a semi-dry state using a towel, so it’s not that drippy. In printmaking class, we sandwiched the dripping paper between a folded towel. You can try that if you want, experiment and see which technique you like best.

I used dry oslo paper. It helps if you hold the two diagonal corners while pressing it down to your design so that there are no air bubbles. Work quickly, before the watercolor paint dries! Which is what happened to me, oops. Press the paper against the paint with your hands or the back of a wooden spoon or a brayer if you have one, but what I did was to use my body weight for less effort. Meaning: I stomped on top of the paper (but to be more effective, you must walk slowly in every area of the paper. Careful not to drag the paper accidentally!). I read about this technique from this wonderful printmaking book called “Hand Printing from Nature: Create Unique Prints for Fabric, Paper, and Other Surfaces Using Natural and Found Materials” by Laura Donnelly Bethmann. A must-read if you’re interested in creating your own prints!


5. You now have your finished one-of-a-kind print! What’s great about the monotype technique is that the results are wonderfully unpredictable, so if you like surprise artworks, you’d definitely like experimenting with this printing technique. 🙂 If you’re using watercolor paint, you have to keep in mind that you have to work pretty fast or else the paint will dry up in the plastic sheet. Some details did not appear since they were already dry, but that’s okay.


Here’s my first attempt. I did abstract works for now, but am looking forward to making monotype merbirds in the near future!


I poured a lot of water atop the plastic sheet and pressed paper against it and loved the wash I got:

Take a peek at my other tutorials here. 🙂

Read more about my printmaking adventures here.


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