Learn how to Monoprint on both fabrics and papers - a step-by-step guide

15 June 2023
A monoprint can introduce remarkable effects and visual surface textures to your work, and just a couple of good monoprints can inspire and inform some exciting new pieces.


Monoprints are fascinating and easy to make on both fabrics and papers. Monoprint means producing one print from one plate at a time; no multiple prints are produced. A monoprint can introduce remarkable effects and visual surface textures to your work, and just a couple of good monoprints can inspire and inform some exciting new pieces. I frequently produce monoprints that I don't want to cut up, and will find a way to base whole pieces of work around them. 

Leaves, other plant materials such as stems, and cut-paper stencils are just some of my mark-making materials when producing monoprints. There are also many designs of acetate stencil available, and these can be very useful if you prefer not to make your own stencils. Print blocks can also be used for impressing onto the painted surface of the plate before taking a print, and marks made with a pointed tool such as the end of a paintbrush also add detail. 


Gel printing plate or other plastic or acrylic surface, 30.5 x 35.5cm (12 x 14in) 

Acrylic paints (I have used lime green, white, Turner’s yellow and indigo blue) 

Sheet of calico slightly larger than the gel plate 

Household and artists’ paintbrushes 


Leaves and grasses 

1. Use a household paintbrush to dab the acrylic paint on to the gel plate, keeping your colour choices separate. For this example I have used lime green, Turner’s yellow and navy blue. 

Acrylic paint onto gel plate

2. Use a brayer or roller to roll the colour over the plate. Make sure that you cover the whole area of the gel plate. 

Apply paint

3. Use the handle of a paintbrush to scribble in some marks, moving the paint from one area to another. 

4. Lay your sheet of calico over the painted gel plate. Roll over the back of the fabric firmly with a clean brayer to transfer the paint from the gel plate to the fabric. 

5. Use a paintbrush to apply more paint directly onto a brayer. 

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Apply more paint 

6. Apply a second layer of paint to the gel plate. I have also added, with a brush, a few dabs of lime green. 

add a second layer of paint

7. Lay your collection of leaves and grasses on top of the paint layer. 

Layer leaves onto paint


If you feel your monoprint needs further development, you can print over it until you achieve an effect you are happy with. This process can make the print quite visually dense; 
I find I overprint at least three times, using different colours at each stage to achieve the effect I want. 

8. Place the calico down on top of the gel plate and roll the brayer over the fabric surface to allow the calico to pick up the print of the paint and the greenery, then lift to reveal. The leaves and stems act as stencils, producing a delicate effect. The painted leaves can then be used to add prints to the fabric surface if you wish. 

Apply calico to paint

9. Dab white acrylic paint onto a paintbrush and make marks at random over the painted area to add texture and interest. 

White acrylic paint to add texture

10. Finally, lay the calico on top of the gel plate again and print the last layers of paint onto the fabric using the brayer. You can use the painted leaves and stems to add more prints to the fabric surface if you wish, or continue to add paint and print until you are happy with the result. 

Mono printed fabric

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