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!