Trace monotype print of a girl with read hair and a green shirt on

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Trace Monotype Printmaking

This post shows a sample of trace monotype printmaking – also known as drawing transfer monotype printing.

I’ve been writing about and filming monotype printmaking tutorials, so if you’re interested in the process, you might check this video playlist of tutorials. Click here to see them. The process is simple and the mark-making is lovely.

trace monotype portrait
The trace monotype print before any color was added

Trace Monotype Resources

  • Take a look at this nice, clear step by step introduction to the trace monotype printmaking process by School of Yule.
  • And this one, by a channel called Crafty Birdie is simple, and the trace monotype at the end is adorable.
  • Here’s a trace monotype drawing of a hamster, done loose and sketchy. (Don’t you need to make a portrait of your pet?)
  • Not monotype, but here’s a bonus: Bridget Farmer does beautiful linocuts of birds as stand-alone prints and as hand-printed bamboo wood mobiles. You can watch examples on her channel, and see one of the most recent magpie project videos at the bottom of this post.
Video by Printmaker Bridget Farmer showing how she handprints her bamboo Magpie mobile with linocut
trace monotype portrait with watercolor
Adding the first layers of watercolor to a Trace Monotype

Why Write an Art Blog?

An artist asked me recently why I bother to write an art blog. Beyond the blogging community with other artists, the practice of writing that I’ve come to love, and the act of nudging my fellow artists into making things more often, there are a ton of business-oriented reasons.

I found this article by Hubspot that might be useful for anyone contemplating the same notion. As an artisan, do you blog? Do you find it beneficial to your business, or your practice as a maker in your studio? What about socially? Or as an exercise in expressing yourself?

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

P.S. Leave us a link to your trace monotypes in the comments so we can come visit and see your work.

All in Green 5×4.5 Trace Monotype with watercolor (sold)

P.P.S. You can subscribe to get each post via email by signing up (free) right here.

A still from a Trace Monotype Video Tutorial on my Youtube Channel. Check it out here.

Monotype Transfer Drawing Print Supply List

Here are the basic supplies you'll need to create a monotype transfer drawing print without a press. These versatile prints can be left as standalone original works of art, or you can add color with all sorts of pigments like watercolors, gouache, colored pencils, pastels and wax crayons.

Caligo Safe Wash Etching Ink

Caligo Safe Wash Intaglio Ink

This ink looks and feels and prints similar to traditional oil-based etching ink, but it washes up with soap and water. Solvents aren't necessary. The ink stays wet on the brayer and roll-out slab for a good, long time. Note: Don't use watercolor paper with sizing in it, as that will block absorption and slow the ink drying time. See paper recommendations in this list.

Inking Plate

Four 12x12 Clear Acrylic Sheets

These shiny, clear sheets of plastic are *perfect* for rolling out ink on all your printmaking projects. If you're printing in multiple colors, you can roll for colors - one per sheet - or 8 colors if you use the right and left sides of each sheet. You can also use these to print dark field and light field monotypes. The bonus for monotype prints is that the plates are totally clear, so you can trace your image in printmaking inks for better accuracy.

Printmaking Paper

Arnhem1618 Printmaking Paper

This is the paper I printed my monotype transfer drawing on, and it works beautifully for both allowing the printmaking ink to dry, and for painting with watercolor afterward.

Rubber Gloves

Rubber Gloves

Whenever you're working with pigments, it's wise to wear protection to keep the inks from getting on your skin. The inks I've recommended here are water wash up, but that doesn't mean they're non-toxic. Repeated exposure to paint, inks and modifiers are best done with a good barrier to protect the container we'll be cruising around in all of our lives. When handling ink, wear gloves.


Winsor Newton Watercolor Set

Here is a good starter set for watercolors if you're not experienced with painting your printmaking projects. You'll be able to mix all sorts of new colors from these tubes of basic hues.

Watercolor Brushes

Watercolor Brush Set

This set will give you plenty of options to add color to your monotype transfer drawings in broad strokes or fine details.

Making Monotypes (book)

Making Monotypes

If you've never made a monotype print before, this book is a treasure trove of history, approaches, supplies, methods, and ideas. It's out of print, but you can get it used, or at your local library.

Art Quote

In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.

Rollo May

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8 thoughts on “Trace Monotype Printmaking”

  1. This is spectacular! You bridge printmaking, painting and drawing so fluidly – you are charting new territory, and I am pleased to witness your unique style as it blossoms!

    1. Hello there my friend! Thanks for that very kind compliment. One of these days, I hope we’re both exhibiting work at the same venue so we can catch up face to face. xo 🙂

  2. faye harwell

    I love your blog…thank you for sharing your knowledge. I’ve learned so much. You
    are appreciated!

  3. Ellen Bennett

    Well said Louise. I couldn’t put it any better. BTW, love the trace monotype in your blog of the young woman. Thank you so much for imparting your knowledge and expertise.

    1. Thanks very much, Ellen. I appreciate the feedback. The reference for the young woman was a vintage photo for the late 1940’s from our family album. So fun! Happy art making!

  4. Whatever your reasons for writing a blog, it’s so fortunate that you do! Please don’t stop! Your tutorials are informative and inspiring and your musings thought-provoking. You give so generously and I trust all the wonderful energy you send out circles back and graces your artistic life.

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