Monotype Printmaking

August 8th, 2010

McClain’s Prints an Additive Monotype

McClain’s Prints a Reductive Monotype

A bit of supporting text:

There are many ways to create Monotype images. In these two videos we have demonstrated simple ADDITIVE and REDUCTIVE methods for creating an image using a brayer, matte board and a lint-free rag as drawing tools.

The ADDITIVE method means you are adding ink to a blank Monotype Plate.

The REDUCTIVE method involves wiping ink off of an inked Monotype Plate to create highlights or open areas.

Both methods are often used within the same image.

Materials needed:

-Oil Based Ink (like Caligo or Gamblin Relief Inks) or Water Soluble Ink (like Akua Kolor & Akua Intaglio) We have used Caligo Safe Wash Relief Ink for this demonstration.

Paper (anything typically used to print by hand)

-Proofing Paper

Monotype Plate


-Rubber Brayer or Roller

-Printing press or PinPress

-Inking slab (can be glass or an extra Monotype plate)

Ink Knives

Razor Blade Scraper for cleaning ink off the inking slab

-Solvent: Soap and Water or SavvySoap (for Caligo and Akua), Odorless Mineral Spirits (for Gamblin)

Optional drawing implements:

-Lint-free Rags (like Dyna Cloth), cotton swabs, matboard scraps, brushes or any other material or tool for removing or adding ink

Additive Approach

In most printmaking methods it is necessary to use a brayer or roller in a consistent manner to create an even printed edition, or at least a thin, even ink layer. Monotype is an exception to this rule because a brayer can be used to intentionally create erratic ink marks or ink films of variable thicknesses. The marks that can be created with a brayer are often difficult or impossible to create using other drawing tools.

After removing it from the container, warm up the ink by working it back and forth with an ink knife on the inking slab. This will make it much easier to roll out smoothly with the brayer.

Create a blended roll or solid color roll. You will be drawing with your brayer, so blended rolls often help to achieve more depth in your image.

Carefully choose where to begin your roll and slowly start rolling ink on to the plate. You can create interesting marks and textures by smearing the inked brayer sideways. Twisting the brayer as it crosses the plate will also cause it to slide and deposit ink more lightly or heavily. In addition to moving the brayer in abnormal directions, you should try applying lighter or heavier pressure to create differing films of ink on the surface.

Reductive Approach

After removing it from the container, warm up the ink by working it back and forth with an ink knife on the inking slab. This will make it much easier to roll out smoothly with the brayer.

With the reductive method, ink is removed from the plate to create the highlight or white areas, so roll out an even solid layer of ink on the slab.

Use a scrap of matboard, clean ink brayer or any other improvised drawing tool (see list above) to begin removing ink from the plate. This will create highlights, texture and depth in the darker ink slab.

Ink can also be pushed from one part of the plate to another to create areas that are darker than the original roll. Be cautious when doing this. Too much ink on one area of the plate can smear when it is printed.

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