How to Make a Monotype – Tutorial #1 Trace Monotype Print with Pastel (no press required)

Hi I’m Belinda? Welcome to my studio!
Today I want to show you a printmaking method called trace monotype! In this
example, we’re going to use no press. It’s just going to be hand transferred
and if you don’t have drawing skills that’s okay because, as the name implies,
we are literally going to trace the elements onto our page. In this example,
when the print is dry, I’m going to add pastel to it. This printmaking method has
a very unique look to it, but it also has tons of possibilities so you can
take it anywhere you want – with pastel, colored pencil, watercolor, acrylic… Like
many of the other printmaking methods that I have here on my channel, you’ll
see that it’s wide open. It has lots of opportunities for experimentation and
adventure in the studio so let’s have a look! I’m using Akua
intaglio ink in Mars black. This ink has a tendency to settle a little bit so
stir it very well if you’re going to use the same ink for your monotype. My work
table is covered with a sheet of clear plexiglass with paper underneath, so I
have a nice white surface to roll my ink out on. If you don’t have plexiglass, you
can use a piece of glass or a piece of acetate. Take your time to roll your ink
out thoroughly, and lift the brayer at the end of a roll frequently to let it spin
a little bit so that you’re making contact with the ink from different
start and stop points around the circumference of the rubber. As the Inc distributes across the
surface you’re rolling it on, the sound of it changes from something kind of
gloppy and gelatinous to a nice even hiss. The hiss is the sound of evenly
sized peaks of ink separating or breaking apart as the brayer rolls away
from the ink on the table. That’s what you’re listening for. No matter how much
you keep your ink sealed and air tight you’ll still find little bits and blobs
in there, so take time to remove those so that they don’t affect your print. You’ll
notice the rubber tip tool I’m using is actually scraping the ink away to reveal
white. You can draw in the ink like this and then just press paper to it and
that’s a monotype too. Brayers are manufactured with a rest either the
bracket of metal across the back like this one or two little metal feet to
keep the rubber off the table. I’m gonna do a little test here with just a scrap
piece of newsprint to see what kind of textures I’ll get with this particular
ink with different points. Here I’m using the back of the rubber tool I use which
is the equivalent of the back of a paintbrush and then fingertip. So soft
fleshy parts of my finger – pressing down – will give me a different mark making
style and then I’ll use a pastel stump to move around on the paper. It leaves a
little bit of a trail because it’s already inky, and I can see what I’m
doing. These three types of marks will be quite varied when we flip the paper over.
Since newsprint is smooth and quite thin, it’s going to have a dapple of ink
stippling all around which is lovely and then you can see the different mark
making styles I got with finger, versus pencil point, versus the
pastel stomp. Now if I want to I can go in and add extra detail or darken an
area by just re-flipping the paper and pressing some more. I’ll do it here on
the little face because I can see where I was, and you can see what a difference
it makes. I recommend doing a little test print with some newsprint as well as a
small piece of the paper that you’re going to print on – just to see what
you’re going to get before you start. Now I can use a piece of
paper that’s smaller than the rollout of the ink to get an image that bleeds past
the boundary of the paper, but I’d like a margin around my image so I’m going to
use scrap printmaking paper and create a little frame to give myself a nice neat
square. Be sure that the paper you’re going to use is slightly bigger than the
frame you’ve created around the ink and then tape it down to the table. After
your margin frame is attached to the table, take your printmaking paper and
lay it over the ink, centered over the frame, then use a piece of tape to create
a little hinge at the top. In this trace monotype I’m going to use two different
photographs for my reference material. I’m going to mix and match a window
backlit in a bathroom, with some figures from a dining room at a dinner party. If
you’re doing this with students, you may want to tape the reference photo down
just a little bit but I’m gonna hold it with my hand, and with a sharp pencil, I’m
just gonna trace some of the basic outline of the window. Be careful not to
rest your hand too heavily on the reference photo otherwise you’ll get
lots of ink on the underside of your print where you might not want it to be. You can lift the paper that you’re
printing on to make sure you’ve got enough detail there and then move on to
a second photograph to add some figures. You can keep your
trace work very simple and just collect the basics of the figures, or go into
lots of detail. You can add bits and pieces from a dozen different
photographs if you want. If you do this project in a classroom you might have to
help students keep their images – their reference photos – centered, so that
they’re not over the frame of the scrap printmaking paper. They want the
reference photo to be over the ink. Your students might enjoy drawing themselves
inside famous paintings or alongside their favorite superheroes or maybe
inserting themselves into a vintage family photo with people they’ve heard
about but have never met. Tracing elements deliberately out of scale like
the family pet extra large and themselves nice and small could be fun
too. The possibilities are pretty endless for fun and engagement with this kind of
project I’ve got enough detail now in my trace
monotype. You can see where my fingertips press down to create all kinds of
shadows on the figures in the foreground and you can see the dappled effect of
the ink on paper that has a little bit of tooth on it experiment with sample papers that have
either a smooth finish a medium finish or a rough finish and you’ll see
completely different textural lines where it comes in contact with the inks.
I’m going to remove just the bottom tape here to pull my frame up and then I’ll
use the brayer to smooth the drawing lines out of this ink so that it’ll be
ready for another trace monotype. If you’re working in your studio and the
ink is drying on the first trace monotype, you can sit and make many more
of these, or if you’re in a classroom, you can set up three or four ink stations
for students to use in succession. Have fun experimenting with different colored
inks, different textured papers, and adding extra media on top of the print,
or leaving it as is. Trace monotypes are a very old printmaking process and they
stand on their own, but they are also perfect under drawings for adding other
media. I’ve kept the outline of the figures relatively simple here because I
knew I was going to paint them, but the mark making of trace monotype is so
varied and beautiful it’s definitely worthy of exploration by itself. If
you’re interested in some beautiful imagery from art history of trace
monotypes, do a google image search for Paul Gauguin and trace monotype. I have
another video of a trace monotype in process that will use colored pencil
over the watercolor instead of pastel – as this one will be – so be sure to subscribe
so that you don’t miss that. Adding watercolor to the trace monotype gives
me an opportunity to get acquainted with the composition and I decide as I’m
going here – you’ll see in a moment – that I’m going to add some extra shapes that
weren’t there. In addition to these darker panels on the right, I’ve made some extra shapes. This one the right because without it – the art is a little off
balance, and this one on the left, so that it creates a dark foil behind the figure.
Now that the watercolor is dry I can start using some pastel. You can
certainly leave the trace monotype with just the water color, and be finished, but
for the sake of demonstration, I’m going to put some lighter colored pastel on this bold watercolor, so that some of the colors show through the pastel and
make for lots of different texture and interest in the final piece. Since the
pastel is completely opaque you also have the option of altering your image
completely. If you experiment with this method in your studio or in a classroom
I want to encourage you to be arbitrary with your colors. Be inspired by looking
at some Impressionist paintings in history, and then have fun. Give yourself
permission to goof off and just play. Break some rules and use colors that you
love instead of colors that you think might be realistic to the reference
photo that you used in the first place. If you’re looking for some examples or
inspiration on that do a google image search for the term “pastel over monotype” (in quotation marks) and you’ll find all kinds of beautiful imagery. My color choices are definitely
influenced by the reference photo I used – especially the figures in the room.
They were in a red room, but I’ve been pretty random with my selection of
colors around the figures and around the table – mostly just paying attention to
lights and darks so that I give the impression that these two figures dining
together are backlit by that window. The paper I’m using here is arches cover
in white and it is the 250 gram or 92 pound or the lightweight version of the
two options that you have at the art supply store. If you get unwanted line
work by tracing two different reference photos you can completely cover them
with pastel but in the next demonstration video, I’ll show watercolor
and colored pencil to do the same thing but still leaving a little bit of that
dappled look of the trace monotype visible in the finished product. The
title of this piece is Between Friends. So, that is a trace monotype! If you have
any questions about how to make one, you can leave those in the comments below.
All of the supplies I used are listed below – not in the comments,
but in the Show More section. This channel also features lots of other
printmaking tutorials as well as watercolor tutorials, so have a look
around, and if you haven’t already, please subscribe so you don’t miss anything! I’d
appreciate your feedback – give me a thumbs up so I know how this was
received, and if you have a friend that’s learning printmaking and they’d benefit
from this video, please go ahead and share it with them. Thanks so much for
your visit today – and thanks also for all the great feedback that I’ve been
getting on this channel! I really appreciate your comments, suggestions,
emails, your thumbs ups, and your subscriptions! I’ll see you in the next
video! Make something soon, bye!


  • MissNausicaa87

    One more cool technique to try out, thank you Belinda.

  • Peter Hinton

    Thanks Belinda I have been waiting for this one. You have answered all my questions and love the effect this creates. I am so going to do this very soon.. Thanks again, Peter

  • Randi Command

    Neat! Looks easy. Can I use the Speedball waterbased inks I have, or should I use the intaglio ink?

  • J Wall

    I'm so excited for a new technique. The akua intaglio ink, what do you think is the work time, before it's too dry to trace in? I'll look forward to seeing the next video with colored pencils. I need a lot of practice with pastels. Being left handed I tend to drag colors around before I even notice it. If you have a suggestion other than practice, to stop this I'd love to hear it.

  • Suzé Gilbert

    Belinda, you are so incredibly generous with your knowledge and expertise, thank you! I haven't done a trace monotype since college and this video inspired me to look through my many travel photos to do a mashup. Although I didn't need more a Rosemary brushes or paper, I'm clicking on those affiliate links to purchase some to say thanks!

  • Darren Chittick

    Thank you!

    I love your videos more than any other instrutctional videos I've found on youtube. I've come to realize that it is because you add the narration after you've completed the video. It makes your explanation concise. Those who simply talk while they work tend to ramble and I tend to close the video because I'm not interested in stream of consciousness. I really appreciate the work you put into the demonstrations and your narration. And, of course, I love your work. I've learned a great deal about printmaking from you. Thank you!

  • Beth Gould

    I have just completed a monoprinting class and can't wait to try his technique. Thank you!

  • garry dullaghan

    great tutorial,,,,enjoyed the video,,,i studied printmaking at collage in my honors degree in fine art ,,,,here in Ireland ,,,,its great to see someone with so much passion for their work

  • Elizabeth Tucker

    fascinating!! Does the ink come in other colors?

  • Bonnie McBride

    Great tutorial and inspiration, something new to try

  • Michael and Carol Blackburn

    Loved it Belinda! Thanks.

  • Linda Stewart

    Hi Belinda, loved this video and anxious to try it myself and with my students. I can not thank you enough for all your encouragement! I am so excited to have some time to explore and introduce these techniques to my students.

  • Cindi Foreman

    I am a big fan of your work – Not sure if you apply fixatif (not in supply list?) What do you use to "fix" the pastel when you are all done?

  • Tiffany Hiller

    Love the way you teach, I am a beginner, and do art because I just have to, I love it so much. I am in Australia, where it is easy for me to get this line of products. When I buy something I want to get the one I can use on a wide variety, they sell a variety of inks, is block ink the most suitable, I'm guessing acrylic ink won't be suitable. Would love to know what you think would be most appropriate for my needs. tfs

  • Karen Bailey

    Hi Belinda, I have just found your channel and am really enjoying your videos. I have been working in sketch books for awhile now and was wondering how to translate my pen and ink work into works outside the sketch book. Your tutorial on monotype, dry point on Mylar and Perspex seem to be the answer. I love hand colouring my drawings so will enjoy the whole process. Thanks again and I will let you know how I go. Karen

  • egregory2009

    I am so happy to have found this tutorial. I did some printmaking years ago. Now I wanted to use printmaking to re interpret some unfinished sketches. I lack a studio and a press. I 'm going to try this method, it seems exciting and so many possibilities. thank you . Liz

  • M Overstreet

    thanks for showing print making without a press. I cannot afford a press and have always wanted ways to print at home other than lino block, which I love. I will be trying all your print making lessons. thank you for the options. I have subscribed to your channel and hope to send you some examples of my art in the future.

    PLEASE keep up the great channel and suggestions…..I really enjoy your artwork very much

  • Mary Duval

    I love your videos, please keep them coming.I tried this and I have two questions. If I want to try adding two images , as you did here, do you have any tips for choosing these images so that they end up looking "right" together. I am referring to size light ,direction, shadows , things like that. Also I tried both water color paper which didn't seem to pick up enough ink and the thinner paper was too glob Bing and in both cases could not get enough detail. Thanks. You are the only print making channel that. Is worth watching as far as I am concerned.

  • Sally Baker

    I have lots of Caligo Safe Wash inks. Can I use them for this exercise please?

  • Tanya

    You're an inspiration! I purchased all materials today and I'm excited! I've been binge watching your videos! Thank you! ❤️

  • Prisilla Cope


  • Christine slattfri

    This is new to me and I love it.  I appreciate that you have provided this information.  Not sure where to begin at  this point but I think I am going to go to Michael's and look into it.  I could see myself doing this.  It looks like fun.

  • Marko artist

    If I use pastels, Do I have to spray the print after I'm finish?


  • Bridget Becker

    My first print was too dark but when I rolled the remaining ink I heard the "hiss". I thought I heard it the first time but it was definitely distinctive the second time so now I can tell if I have too much ink on the plate. This is so much fun! I love not knowing exactly how it will look until you pull the paper. Thanks so much!!

  • soft marble

    so very cool. I'm very excited to try. thank you

  • maria Pellegrino

    This is awesome Belinda ! I am going to try this for sure. Can you use water color paper to do this ?
    Thank you for shearing your fantastic talent 🙂

  • Fred and Chris Latter


  • Janett

    Wow the results are gorgeous and indeed unique. Can't wait to try this!

  • Santie Amery

    Oh I love this! I have been wondering how you do this…been looking at your beautiful art for years and love the moments in time you catch so skillfully and with atmosphere…thank you for sharing this…

  • RW Poole

    Really glad to've found this, it's a perfect technique for some illustrations I need to make.

  • Cynthia Nugent

    Thank you for this excellent tutorial. i really valued your comments about using the technique in the classroom and setting up monotype stations

  • 57mobird

    You are an excellent teacher. There was an extraordinary amount of information in these 11 or so minutes! I'm new to trace monotype and am looking forward to giving it a try and viewing your other videos. Thank you!

  • Jan Bennicoff

    I loved watching your demo. I am looking for something different to do. Getting tired of painting oil landscapes, I am in a rut. thanks, this was very inspiring!

  • Hallie Dozier

    Hi Belinda. thanks for all these high quality instructionals. I have a question, if you use pencils to hand color a print, can you use textured fixative to enhance coloring without compromising the printed portion of a piece? Inquiring minds…

  • ruurd huizenga

    I believe in D.I.Y art, so this was very inspirational

  • pauline gauthier

    Would text come out right using this technique? Great tutorial.

  • joan reese

    Thank you for sharing! beautiful

  • Catherine Peddel

    Thank you for taking the time to post these detailed instructions on monotype

  • Janine Hyslop

    Thats fantastic you are very talented Im messing about with a gell plate but love how you take it further as thats what Ive been thinking of doing but hadn't thought of those techniques …brilliant !!

  • Hermina Miklos

    Thank you so much for your excellent demonstration on this topic. I'm pretty new at printmaking, but I enjoy the learning process very much. Your help and suggestions are highly appreciated.

  • Mari B.

    I think this is going to be addictive! ?

  • Sima Abedini

    I am so thrilled to find you here , amazing information ??????????‍???

  • Gaynor Beck

    Thank you!!! I'm so happy. I did this technique at college and loved it so much. However I forgot what it was called and hadn't found anything that came close it. I've been unhappy in my art process this year. Today I am excited again. Wonderful tutorial! Will follow???

  • Marie Heb

    Such a wonderful process. Did you use a cold press or hot press watercolor paper? Would printmaking paper take the watercolor, or other medias just as well! Thank you!

  • P Davis

    Wow! I had never heard of trace monotypes until now! I am going to go out this weekend and buy some intaglio ink and give this a try! By the way, this video was up to your usual high standards! Well done and Thanks!

  • Luisa Izquierdo

    amazing your work, congratulation… I like the technique

  • Leigh-Ann H

    I’m excited. I haven’t heard of trace monotype before either. Pastels are one of my preferred mediums so I am keen to give this a go. Thank you very much for your video introducing me to this technique.


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