Monotype Printmaking: Create Abstract Backgrounds For Drawing, Lettering, and Collage | Brandi Beckett | Skillshare

Monotype Printmaking: Create Abstract Backgrounds For Drawing, Lettering, and Collage

Brandi Beckett, Artist, Daoist, Kung fu Wizard

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8 Lessons (37m) View My Notes
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Materials and Project

    • 3. Playing with Monotype

    • 4. Layering Colors

    • 5. Finding an Image

    • 6. Drawing

    • 7. Other Ideas

    • 8. Thank you

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About This Class

In this class you’ll create a free-form and unique artwork using a monotype printmaking technique and hand drawn images.

Monotype uses a non-absorbent surface as the “plate” which we add our inks or paints to. Pressing our paper onto the plate and lifting it back up gives us an abstract image which we use as inspiration for our next step.  This process encourages you to be brave and experiment, and to find beauty in the unexpected. The course is broken down into a few simple steps and there is plenty of room for improvisation!

This class is ideal for aspiring and professional illustrators, artists, makers, or surface designers who want a new technique to jump start their creative projects. It’s especially useful when feeling indecisive, hesitant or creatively blocked. I really hope that this technique becomes a part of your art toolbox and that you pull it out for use whenever you feel stuck or afraid of the dreaded BLANK PAGE


1. Intro: Hi, everyone. My name is Brandy and I'm a Canadian artist and kung fu teacher living in Houston, Texas. In this class, I'll be teaching you a simple monotype printmaking technique. Monotype is unique from other printmaking in that you get a one of a kind image instead of multiples, and I've also kind of simplified it even further so that we don't need any special materials. You can do the project for this class with some simple materials that you most likely already have at home. By the end of this class, you have a fun and experimental way to create abstract images, which could be used in a variety of projects that will discuss later on in the class. On days when you're feeling stock or nervous or you really don't know how to start, this process will get you moving in the right direction. This class is for aspiring or professional artist's and illustrator's hen, Lederer's and surface pattern designers who are looking for a fun and easy technique to add to their art toolbox by adding our ink or paint Teoh non absorbent surface and then pressing the paper to it. When we lifted up, we get an abstract image that you can use as a background to draw on, which is what we'll be doing in this class or I'll I'll discuss some other ways of using it like a background for hand lettering, collage ing and more. Thanks for joining me and I'll see you in the first lesson. 2. Materials and Project: for materials. We're going to need some paper. Got some paper here. I really recommend watercolor paper because it's more absorbent. But please don't be too precious with it. Don't get the nicest arches, watercolor paper, Because you're gonna be afraid to mess it up. So get something affordable, but that has nice absorbency. I just got this one at my local our store. You'll also need some brushes, and it really doesn't matter which brushes you have. I use a lot of, like calligraphy kind of brushes, but whatever, man. Watercolor brushes, cheap craft brushes, anything you have on hand, we'll also need our printing plate. Now, here, you have some options. Uh, this one I got is just a piece of glass. It I got it at Michael's. It was a really cheap frame, and I just took it out of the frame, and I've been using it as a as a plate. So you can do that. That was about $5. Ah, you can also get one of these fancy Jill plates. Um, they're more expensive, but they are super fund. And then they're pretty durable, too. Um, a plea. A piece of flexible plastic. I you can get this from packaging or whatever. I really encourage you to reuse things like the final option, which is up just a plastic bag. You can use Saran wrap. You get some cool effects with the plastic bag or the saran wrap because there's some creases kind of built in there, and that could be really interesting, so you don't need to spend a lot on this. You might need a rag or some paper towels. You'll need to some scratch paper just to, ah, test out your colors on. Or maybe you're you're in your drawing phase and you wanna quickly sketch something out so I always have a little piece of scratch paper nearby, and you'll need some inks you actually need ink or watercolor. What you want is something nice and liquidy and runny. If you have something to thick like a medium bodied acrylic paint, what'll happen is you'll press onto your plate, and when you lift it up, it won't really move around and make thes cool shapes. We want something running you want really runny drawing inks, liquid water color or any kind of water color you can use to watercolors or pan watercolors . Whatever you have on hand, I use a lot of inks because I like to draw. I think something to mix that in. You can use a fancy palette. You can use a plate or I have kind of come endeared. This ice cube tray, which is great for mixing really runny inks and watercolors, has a lot of different wells. You can see it's well loved. Um, so if you have an old ice cube tray lying around, you might want to steal that. Put that in your studio. Oh, and finally, we'll need drawing supplies. So I like to draw on my monotype prints with ink and brush because I learned to draw in China. And that kind of drawing is just what I'm used to. Traditionally, Chinese landscapes are drawn with a brush inning. That's how I learned you can also use up in. Maybe you re like micron pens, or you can even use like a Sharpie pin, whatever you like. Ah, this is a brush pin that's pretty sweet. It has liquid include loaded in here, and it's really flexible. So it's a lot like using a calligraphy brush, but way more convenient and also just your old friend, Mr Pencil. So anything that you draw with is cool. Don't get Teoh fussed over materials as long as you've got paper, something non absorb mints to print on and some runny liquidy stuff for color and a drawing utensil. You're good for this class project. You're gonna be uploading a picture of your completed monotype with a drawing over top like this guy and also one of the monotype before you do any drawing on top. And that will just be an abstract image. I like to see both because sometimes the monotype itself is so beautiful. That's really a shame. Not Teoh. Take a moment and admire it. I'll see you again in the next class where we get to it. 3. Playing with Monotype: we're going to start by mixing up our color. And, uh, I'm using my trusty ice cube tray here, so you'll need some clean water, and then you're ink or watercolor paints. I'm gonna actually use both just so you can kind of see how they work. Ah, and you want a little piece of crappy scratch paper that you can just test your colors out with. This is a quien acrid own red. I never know how to say that, but it's, ah, a red watercolor. So I'm just gonna test it out by, like, the color. Oh, I do like the color, like in a lot. And it's nice and runny. That's what we want. So here we go. You're just gonna take your paint or your ink, And, um, this is your first time doing this, So stick two colors. You know you like, uh, choose your favorite color or two colors even, and we'll start there, and then you can branch out later when you're more comfortable with the technique. So we're going to take our color and just are sort of dab it dab, dab, dab, and this is non absorbent. So it's just going to sit on the surface and kind of bead in some kind of mysterious ah ways. And then I'll also take just water and dab that on kind of interspersing it with the paint . And, um, something I want to make a note of here is that if you get really close to the edge, then when you press the print, you'll get the line from the edge of the plate, and that's okay. There's nothing wrong with that. But just keep that in mind. If you want it to not have any hard lines in it, then stay away from ah, the edges of your of your plate and you can kind of mix the water in the and the paint together on your plate. There's really no way of knowing what this is gonna look like, but you just do your best. Um, you stick with a really basic composition, so I can't have everything in the center of the page. You can also maybe do like a diagonal, so I've tried it just where all the colors at the top and I definitely need some more practice with that one. So I just did everything in the center. And then we're gonna take our watercolor paper and it's really simple. You just press it on and then you're gonna mash it, smooth it out with your hands, trying to absorb all the liquid. I don't help this works, and then we do the big reveal in printmaking. This is everybody's favorite part. It's so satisfying. You lift it up. Oh yeah, and you might get some dripping. I like the dripping. You can angle your paper intentionally, like, Oh, I want it to drip. That way you can move it around however you like, Um, and now here. If you look at my plate, there's still a few little dabs of paint left, and I want them. You don't have to do this, but you can if you want. You want to pick up those little dabs, choose a spot on here that's a little empty or blank, or you think needs more color and just boop. Press it on. And I love the little splatter paint effect that that gives we grow and I, like, go all the way around. I like to pick up all the paint you do. You you don't have to do it this way. It's really loose. And the cool thing about this floppy plastic is that I can even just turn it over and use it this way so you can see how really loose this is. Um, there's not much to it, to be honest. Ah, lot of people ask me, how do I I'm just drying off my paper here, trying off some of the depths. Um, how do I do that? Brandy. And when I tell them, you just press paper to the plate with paint on it, they believe me. They don't believe it's that easy, but it is okay. Now, see, you have on empty spot on your paper, and you don't like it, and you want to fill it in. Um, don't. What you shouldn't do is go in with your brush and painted on because the look of the brush stroke won't match the way it looks when it's pressed on the plate. So what you want to do instead is just take the paint, make a tiny spot like however big you want it to be on your final paper just like that, and then we're going to do a second layer really easy. So where would I like that? I think I'd like that right there. So you just kind of aim aim for that spot. Press it on. Yeah, that's good. I have some more dense color there. Now, if the color is too thick on there, you can always go in with paper towel or a rag and dep. And don't be afraid, Teoh. Just keep going. Mess with it a little bit. You can be a little bit, um, strategic with this one. It's pretty loose technique, but you can customize and I still want more. And I want it right there, I think. Right there. Yeah. Ooh, that's got some nice, like ridges. Cool effect. Cool. I I'm happy with that. Now you're gonna clean your plate, just like baby wipes rag paper towel. It should clean really easily, cause it's all water soluble. And since we've got all our supplies out, why stop now? I usually do several of thes at a time. Um, it's pretty fun. It can get away from you. You might end up doing a lot more than you expected, so I'll just show you one more time. So you're gonna take your paint, Watercolor ink, whatever runny stuff you've got. Dab, dab dab. Great. Now I'm gonna use a little bit of diluted ink, which I just premixed and then keep in this little jar so mine will be black and it will be pink. And you're going to go in with water dabbing on some water as well. Okay. Black and pink. You can tell I am a child of the eighties. Take your watercolor paper, Line it up somewhat. Sort of, however you want it. Smooth it out. Ooh, Now, that's pretty cool. Wow, that's really cool. I like that a lot. I'm gonna clean my plate cause that's plenty of black. I don't need any more black on that. I just need to decide. Do I want more pink? Have more pink in my palette, So I guess I might as well use it. So now a little more pink. And remember, every time you print, it's gonna be reverse image. So if you want pink on the right side of your paper, you want to put on the left side of your plate. Keep that in mind one more time. See, it's a little bit drippy, but That's OK, I don't mind. So this is a pretty haphazard process. I don't really know how this is gonna turn out. Oh, it's totally different. It's totally different. The pink and the black combined and made this interesting kind of plum color. Damn, that's cool. So I'm just going around and picking up all those last little dabs speckles of paint. I like my things to be speckled, but you Do you you don't like speckles? Don't do it that way. I don't want my speckles too dark, so I just hope that smeared it a bit. Whoops, dab. I just kind of dab them off. And that's really interesting. That is not at all what I was expecting. That's cool, though. So next up, we're going to talk about layering. Save your pieces, scratch paper where you tested out these colors because we're going to use it in the next video 4. Layering Colors: Now we're going to talk about layering colors. So So you have print needs a little something some. So I have this one. I think it's a bit too, um, pale. So I'm gonna add a little more vibrant color to it. Mix it up a bit. I'm using this purple ICO Line, Inc. Here is where I really I recommend you be a little more strategic. You know, if you don't know much about color theory, there's several classes, good ones on skill share where you can learn it. Take your scratch paper where you tested out the color from from before and you're gonna test out your new color on top. Does it look good together pink and purple? I mean, I think it looks great layered on top. It's pretty cool. If you're using watercolors, then this is even more important because when you add the wet stuff on the top of your dried water color, it will reactivate it, and it'll mix with what you just added. So just keep that in mind. That's why we have our scratch paper. We want to get some good colors, so I like purple. I like it with the pink. I'm gonna mix it up. I'm gonna use a clean Well, from my palate, I'm gonna mix up. This is a pretty vibrant purple, but I don't want it to be two vibrant. Let's see. So we see how it looks on top of the pink. We see how it looks beside. You can try different delusions until you find when you like. I like this pales. I think I want another pale color. Actually. Maybe not quite that pale, though. This is how we're doing it. We're just testing it out until we get one we like. Yeah, there we go. So we got a color combination that we think is gonna look good. No, Take your plate. Look at your paper. Let me just I'm just always very careful with thinks, because I've spilt an entire bottle of ink before and not sucks, So I close it up. No, I look at this piece and I think, you know, I think I'd like the purple to be in this upper left side of the paper. So I look at my plate. That means I gotta put it in the upper right side, because, remember, everything's reversed just gonna dab some purple on there in the upper right section of my plate and coming down a little. You know, I want to integrate it to some degree as well. Okay, so you can take your paper and you compress it on there. It's not that hard. If you're nervous about doing that, if it makes you like Oh, what if I miss it up? You can take your plate depending on what type of plate you have and press it on the paper . It works fine on a glass plate. It works fine on this. I think this is PP plastic. I don't know what it it works okay with the gel plate. What? It doesn't work that will. It is the, um, plastic bag. But you can do something really cool with a plastic bag where you just crinkle it up, dab it into your color and then dab it on. So it's like potato stamping. So dab that and then add it to your paper. Who? That's cool. I actually want toe add a little bit in some other places. That's how you do the bag. And it's really cool looking. Or you can do the old stand by and lift. I do like that, but I want it to be a little more solid. Blended together more. So I'm just gonna add water, just water and repress it on. That'll get everything to flow together a little bit better. What's that look like? Oh, yes, I like I like I like that just the way it is. I'm not gonna mess with him. It's got this really cool drip happening. Who? Look at that. It's gonna go. It's gonna go. You can help it along. Oh, yeah? If you don't like the drip, you know, just use your, uh, paper tell Clean it up. But I like I wanted to trip all the way to the bottom. There we go. And then you can cabin just a very pale trip. Oh, gorgeous. So I'll see you in the next class where we talk about how to look at your monotype and find an image in this abstraction. It's really fun 5. Finding an Image: Okay, we're back. And now we're gonna talk about finding our images in these abstract monotype prints. So, um, after your prints have had a chance to dry, you want to take him out and just have a look. See, um, I often will wait a day between pulling the prince and drawing on them eso that I have fresh eyes when I'm looking at them again. But it's totally up to you as long as the papers dry. Ah, you're good. So I'm taking a look at my image, and I'm looking at areas where the color meets the white space where one color meets another color. Places like that and I'm trying to see if I see a shape, have a look and just see what this looks like. And don't be married to one orientation. Turn it around. So when I look at it this way, kind of looks a little bit like a fish like here's its eye and mouth little thin. It's cute, but keep going. Keep looking. What does it look like now? I usually see landscapes because that's kind of my thing. That's what I draw. So that's what I see when I look at these, but you might see Ah, figure you might see. Ah, flower. A cup of coffee. A terrible. It really doesn't matter what you see. That's what you're going to draw. This one does look a little bit like a figure to me. Maybe this is the face. And this could be maybe a flower or a big fascinator on this lady like person's head s O. This is just the process of pulling an image from the abstract. I really love to work this way. Um, it's it's like searching for hidden treasure. So I hope that you'll enjoy it to, um And if you don't see an image like if you're like I don't know, it just looks like splotches. That's okay. Don't worry. You can draw whatever you feel like drawing that day on top of this. Just use it as a background. It's really nice behind line drawings, like maybe a some flowers, um, or your cat. Whatever you see around you, it just draw it on top. If you're into lettering, you can do some lettering over top of these. It actually looks really cool. I am not good at lettering, so I will not be demonstrating that I'll be doing landscape drawing because that's kind of nothing. This is also the point where you want to gather reference photos. So even though I see a fish here, I don't feel super comfortable drawing fish. So I would find some reference images of fish before I move on to the next stage. So you might want to do that, too, if it's not something that you're super comfortable with withdrawing. If you have, ah, print that you just love so much the way it is and you cannot bear to draw on it, then don't. That's fine. Sign it. Call it done. You're finished. You can also scan it or take a picture of it and print out a copy for drawing on. So then you would have the original and something that you've drawn on. If you really don't care for your monotype print, don't throw it away. I'm going to show you some more projects that you can use this kind of thing for I don't really like this one. It was a bit of an experiment, but it didn't turn out the way I expected, and I will show you just like just what you could do with that kind of thing in Ah, Later lesson. So for now, get your drawing supplies out and I'll see you in the next class. 6. Drawing: All right, everyone know we're ready to start drawing on top of our abstract monotype prints. I've chosen this one. I, of course, seal and escaped there. I just can't help it. That's what I see when I'm gonna be using this. What brand is this? I think it's Yasu Tomoe Calligraphy brush pin. But you use whatever you want. So I'm just gonna start now by defining some edges. I see a bit of a cliff here, and basically I'm tracing the edge, but feel free to deviate from the edges whenever you feel ready. So this is a That's what I've started with before. We were being really loose and playful and just having a good time. And when you get into the drawing stage, you're going to go more meditative and mindful, slow down, do things precisely and calmly. So I'm drawing, uh, a mountain. I draw a lot of mountains. If I don't know how to draw something, I still have my scratch paper here. Maybe I want to draw a little like Hermits hut on the top of this mountain. So I'm gonna practice drawing Hermit's hut. Is that good? No, I don't like this one. That's not right. There we go. That's better. You're scratch. Paper can be for testing things out. You might want to warm up before you start drawing on the the actual piece of art by doodling a little cute. So that's basically the process you just used, what of whatever method you're comfortable with and you're just drawing on top until you end up with a really nice finished project. And when you dio don't forget to take a picture of it and upload it, I'll see you in the next lesson, and we're going to talk about some other ways to use thes monotype abstract prints. 7. Other Ideas: So here are a few other ideas for using these monotype prints. So you have a print that you just don't love. I have one right here. Don't throw it away. You can use this. Turn it over. Try using the other side. I mean, it's OK to do this. You can also use it for scratch paper, which is what I've done here. This scratch paper I've been using was a print that I didn't like. You can also just really fun cut it up and use it for collage paper. So these were some things that I've cut up. It's OK, even if it has a drawing on it. Then you just take a piece of paper, start moving your pieces around, try and work out a composition. This is something I'm just getting into. And I think it's really cool and continue a lot about composition. Don't glue your pieces down until you've worked out where you want them to go. So don't glue until the very end is what I'm trying to say Here. Maybe I want this thin sliver could be pretty cool right there. Anyway, you get the idea. You can also skin these and use them for digital collage. There's a class Makiko or sir on skill share. She teaches digital collage in classes so you can look those up. If that's something that's interesting to you, you can also, if you have a piece that you just love and you can't bear to draw on it, you can scan that and you can draw over it digitally. Or you can print it, print it out and draw over the printed out copy. You don't have toe. Be worried about missing up this this print that you really like and there are classes on skill. Sure that we'll even teach you how to combine. You know you're monotype abstract background with, ah, sketch I can recommend. I think her name's Dylan Myers Wenske. She is a class on digitizing sketches, So if you want to take two things you've made and put them together, you can learn how to do that in her class. And finally, if you like making digital repeat patterns surface pattern design, you can make some really cool repeat patterns from these monotype prints, so feel free to scan them and use them for that as well, especially I really like it. When you do it with a plastic bag and you get some crinkle effects, you get this sort of like eighties vapour wave. Look, that I think is is really great. If you do end up using your monotype print for another project like one of these or some some other idea I have never even thought of Please share your work in the in the gallery because I think that would be really inspiring and exciting for people. This whole thing is really ah, great process for getting out of, ah, creative block. So if you have creative ideas for us, we want him. Those were just a few ideas off other projects you can use your monotype prints for. 8. Thank you: thank you all for taking my class. It's my very first skill share class. And so I really appreciate your support. I hope you got a lot out of it. Um, I've gotten so much out of this process, it's really transformed my art practice. And I hope it does the same for you. Don't forget to post your project photos. And also, if you end up using monotype in some unconventional way that I've haven't talked about here post that too. I think that would be really interesting. So good luck and have fun.