Adding Colored Pencil to Monotype Ghost Prints

a monotype print of a bathroom with art deco tile, and an open window with a bouquet of flowers on the sill in the sunlight

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Monotype Ghost Print Transformation

Let’s add colored pencil to a monotype ghost print. If you’re not familiar with monotypes, visit this information page about monotype printmaking. If you like watching demonstrations, here is a monotype tutorial playlist on youtube. Each tutorial video on my channel has a list of associated supplies in the Show More section under the video windows.

a monotype fghost print of a bathroom with an open window, in green ink
This is the ghost print I started with. I pulled it out of the pile to ponder the palette of colors to consider for enhancement with colored pencils.

Adding Color and Value to a Monotype Ghost Print

This bathroom interior ghost print has waited in my art files for additional media for years. The light trace of inks is too close in values, and it needs some contrast. The print is too faint to stand on its own, so I saved it for colored pencils. (Watercolor would work on this ghost print too.)

The paper is BFK Rives, and the oil based printmaking ink was a mix of green and black. If you make a monotype print, be sure to use good printmaking paper, and quality inks (either water-clean up, or oil based). Either ink will work well for colored pencil enhancement. Make sure your print and paper are completely dry before you begin.

adding colored pencil to monotype ghost prints - in process
Adding the first transparent veils of color to the monotype ghost with colored pencil.

Print Your Reference Photo in Reverse

It helps a lot to have your reference photo from the original monotype while you’re adding other pigments. If it’s possible, print the reference photo again, flipped horizontally, so it matches the monotype ghost print, that’s a plus too. If you can’t print it again, try looking at it face-down against a light source (taped to a sunny window pane, etc.) from the back of the page.

a dark field monotype print next to the plate it was printed from, showing how the print transfers in a reverse of the image
Your monotype print will transfer from the plate in reverse of the image you designed in the ink, and your reference photo too. When adding color to a monotype or a ghost print, make another copy of your reference photo, and print it flipped horizontally as a reference for color and values.

Focus on Values more than Colors

Take a look at your darkest areas on the reference photo and make note of them on the monotype ghost. Since it’s a ghost print, it’s likely missing all values. That is, the monotype is printed in the same flat, mid-range shade of pigment, absent of any gradations of light to dark.

In the photo of the first layers of colored pencil above, I’m laying in the black tile, since it was the darkest linear element on my reference photo. You can compare that in the ghost print to the finished colored pencil version.

A small, inexpensive but effective pencil sharpener for colored pencils
By the way, if you’re looking for a small, portable pencil sharpener for your colored pencils, try this one.
a monotype ghost print getting some color and detail with colored pencils
Layering the colored pencils on the printmaking ink – using soft crosshatching – works very well on monotype ghost prints.
a monotype ghost print of a bathroom with a bouquet of flowers with colored pencil added
If the ink on your monotype ghost print is faint, you can shift the final colors of your print in any direction you want using colored pencils.

Monotype Ghost Print Post Round Up

a monotype print of a bathroom with art deco tile, and an open window with a bouquet of flowers on the sill in the sunlight
Bathroom Boutonniere 9 x 6.75 monotype ghost with colored pencils (available in my Etsy Shop)

Looking for Inspiring Monotype Examples Online

If you’ve added pigments to a monotype ghost – post a link in the comments so we can visit and see what you’ve made. Seeing other printmaker’s work is inspiring, and informative. The monotype group on Facebook (see it here) is full of images and methods, so be sure to join it and share.

It can be challenging to find imagery of monotypes online, as people use the words ‘mono-type’, ‘monotype’ and ‘monoprint’ interchangeably.

In other languages, they’ll use ‘monotipia’, ‘monótipo’, etc. Still others call their monotypes/prints ‘mixed media’ if they’ve added colored pencil, pastel or watercolors, so you’d never know the art started as a print. When searching for inspiring images, it’s a bit of a puzzle to narrow down your search terms.

a cat sitting on a monotype, trying to get the artist's attention
One of the hazards of a shared studio. Scout holds art ransom till he gets a little love.

The Nomenclature of Printmaking

Artists are looking for inspiration, so post photos of your prints. You can call them whatever you want, but please consider calling them what they are – ‘monotype with colored pencil’, or ‘monoprint with oil paint’, etc. You’ll be easier to find in online searches, because monotype or monoprint is a much smaller pool, compared to mixed media or multi media.

Share the specific materials you used to make your monotypes too; plate material, which ink, modifiers, stencils, combs, scrapers and specific type and weight of paper, etc. It will help other beginner printmakers find inspiration, and they’ll understand how to gather the right supplies so they can get started making monotypes too.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you in the next post!


Art Quote

At its simplest, it is as easy as leaving a fingerprint.

Jasper Johns, discussing monotype printmaking

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4 thoughts on “Adding Colored Pencil to Monotype Ghost Prints”

  1. Hi Rose Ann, Thanks for your visit, and your compliments. I’m glad you’re having successful adventures with colored pencil! I love how they can resurrect a complete dud of a watercolor! I hope you have so much fun playing with them!

  2. Rose Ann Vita

    Thank you. I have recently discovered the joy of coloured pencils. I have been using them on washed out watercolours — you know the ones that just don’t work out so they are run under the tap water and remain as a “ghost.”

    Belinda, you are a great inspiration. Rose ann Vita

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