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Monotype vs Monoprint

Sandra Pearce artist showing a monoprint to a workshop group

Monotype vs Monoprint?


My students sometimes ask me – what’s the difference between Monotype and Monoprint?

They are both printmaking techniques that produce unique, one-of-a-kind prints, but they have distinct differences:



Image Transfer: In monotype, the image is created by applying ink or paint directly to a smooth plate, typically glass, plastic or metal.

Uniqueness: Monotypes are known for their complete uniqueness. No two monotypes are identical, even if the artist attempts to create a similar image on another plate.



Image Creation: In monoprinting, the image is created on a plate just like in monotype, but the plate can be textured or have various elements added to it to create different effects. For example, the artist might start with a completed lino plate or etching plate, thus the design on that plate will add to the monoprint design.

Variability: Monoprints can exhibit a range of variations within a series of prints, making them more versatile for artists who want to explore a theme or experiment with different colour variations and effects.  The underlying design on the plate (lino, etching etc) will connect the series of monoprints.  The artist will deviate from a pure edition to what is known as a variable edition.


Both techniques are valued for their ability to create one-of-a-kind artworks with a combination of printmaking and painting or drawing processes.

My favourite technique is making stencil monoprints, which technically is actually monotypes as I start with a smooth plate.  I tend to refer to it as monoprinting as its the most popular term for this type of printing.


Monotype prints on display by student

Here are some completed monotypes on display by a workshop student. There are major variations in the design and colour of each print, even though the same objects and inks were used during the printing session.  In this case, a smooth printing plate has been used and the imagery created entirely with objects.



The sequence of photos below is an example of the process of how I created a monoprint from a drypoint plate.


Drypoint plate printed with monoprint techniques

Drypoint plate of Australian Kangaroo Grass, ready to print.  I simply photocopied the grass (from my garden) then transferred it onto my plastic drypoint plate by placing it underneath.  


Drypoint print with chine colle (pasted japanese paper), using the same drypoint plate shown above, Blue Akua Ink.


The same drypoint plate, printed as a monoprint. The steps to create this print were: 1. Ink up drypoint plate as usual -black ink 2. Lightly roll ink over background – purple/brown 3. Place stems of grass on top of plate  4. Print


You can learn monoprinting and monotype techniques at the Art from the Urban Wilderness Studio, including stencil monoprinting and gelatine/gel plate printing.  Both are great techniques for those new to printmaking, for those wanting to loosen up or if you get bored with editioning prints😆 .

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