Watercolor Monotypes

Watercolor Monotypes

No printing press? No problem! Make one-of-a-kind prints from plexiglass plates with this watercolor monotype tutorial. Let’s get started!


  • Plexiglass 
  • Sandpaper
  • Dishwashing Liquid
  • Paper Towels
  • Watercolor Paper
  • Watercolor Paints
  • Spray Bottle
  • Rolling Pin

Step 1: To help the watercolor paint grip to the plexiglass, sand the surface of the plate until the shine is gone. 

Step 2: Apply a thin layer of dishwashing liquid (an alternative to gum arabic, which many people do not have at home), and allow it to dry onto the plate.

Step 3: Place your paper underneath the plate to guide how large your painting should be. 

Step 4: Paint the plate with watercolors! Try not to go too heavy on the water. 

Step 5: Once your painted design is complete, wait for it to dry while misting your watercolor paper with water. 

Step 6: Dab the damp paper with a towel until there is no more water sitting on top of the paper.

Step 7: Place the paper on top of the plate’s design in one quick motion. Make sure it lines up!

Step 8: Use the rolling pin to press the paint on the plate into the paper. Be careful not to rip or slide the paper across the plate. 

Step 9: Gently peel the paper off of the plate and allow it to dry.

Ideas to take your watercolor monotype to the next level:

  • Dunk the paper underwater to see how it varies the final result of the print.
  • Go back in with a brush and watercolor paints to add details. 
  • Use the monoprint as a background for an original painting. Get creative!

Learning and Discussion Questions:

1. We may have used a rolling pin for this workshop, but the history of the printing press is an interesting one! Visit the History Channel website to learn more.

2. How do additive/subtractive monotypes differ from trace monotypes? How are they similar?

3. Are you wondering about the history of watercolor? Read about its evolution here! 

Thank you to our sponsor, PNC Arts Alive!, for helping to make this video possible!

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