The Art of Monotype: Create your First Unique Artwork in Minutes with Watercolor or Gouache | Anna Sokolova | Skillshare

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The Art of Monotype: Create your First Unique Artwork in Minutes with Watercolor or Gouache

teacher avatar Anna Sokolova, Berlin-based Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.



    • 4.

      Demo 1: Winter Forest


    • 5.

      Demo 2: Medusa


    • 6.

      Demo 3: Black Gold Abstract


    • 7.

      Demo 4: Classic Approach


    • 8.

      Demo 5: Owl


    • 9.

      Demo 6: Adding Background


    • 10.

      Your Task


    • 11.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

In this class, I'll show you how to create your first unique Monotype (aka monoprint) a hybrid of drawing and printmaking with endless possibilities. No previous experience is needed! We'll create 6 different artworks starting with the easiest method and continue with the more controlled classic approach.

By the end of this 70-minute class, you’ll learn the Monotype technique and will be able to create your own unique artwork.

Both advanced and beginner creative can find valuable insights in this class. You don't need to have special drawing skills or a print press.

Lessons include:

  • Materials
  • Inspiration
  • Traditional Technique
  • Modern technique
  • Experimentation

Meet Your Teacher

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Anna Sokolova

Berlin-based Artist

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Anna Sokolova is an award-winning illustrator and artist based in Berlin, Germany.

Anna works with mixed media and is inspired by merging the traditional and innovative approaches in arts. A member of the NYC Society of Illustrators, Anna often collaborates with other international and local pro... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Intro: Hi, my name is Anna Sokolova and I am a Berlin-based artist and illustrator originally from St. Petersburg, Russia. Huge thanks for joining my previous classes and leaving such encouraging feedback. Today, we are standing in Berlin on Museum Island. This place is absolutely gorgeous. Do know why we are here? Because today I want to share with you really special technique called monotype. Monotype is a hybrid of drawing and printmaking with endless possibilities. Mono means one and type means print. Each print is unique and the most exciting it's easy to perform. You don't have to have special drawing skills or a print press at home. First time I've heard about this technique was way back in the University when I saw vintage printing house in the basement. It inspired me ever since. Children books illustrators often use this technique. Also, iconic artists like at Edgar Degas and Paul Gauguin used this type of artist medium. In this class I'll show you how to create your first unique monotype. We'll create six different artworks beginning with the easiest method and continue with more controlled classic approach. We'll also use different types of paper to see different effects. I'll try to show you some tricks and tips to get even more exciting results. You can find some helpful info in the PDF attached to the class project section. I can't wait to begin and to see your projects. As usual, there is a nice giveaway for you. Create and post your project and in the project gallery before October 25th for a chance to win awesome limited edition passion notebook visual engineers project. Let's begin. 2. Materials: We'll need just simple materials, you don't have to buy anything expensive for this class. First of all, you'll need glass, I took it from the cheap for the frame. Then you'll need paints depending on what you want, it can be gouache or water colors. Of course, you'll need brushes, my favorite ones, watercolor brushes number four, Chinese brush, anything you want. You also need some cloth to clean the glass, you'll see how it looks, and of course, the paper is very important. I suggest to use coated paper because it absorbs the paint quickly and helps creating this beautiful fractals and patterns. I'll use several types of paper so you'll see the difference. As for the glass, there are several alternatives. It can be a piece of plastic also called plexiglass. In this case, is better to use gouache. But if you still want to use watercolors, there is a trick. You can mix water with soap so it will help to control the paint better. All this material suggestions you can find in the PDF attached in the class projects section. Let's move forward. 3. Inspiration: Welcome to the studio. First of all, I wanted to show you these beautiful books I use for inspiration. These are children's books and Japanese woodblocks. Well, this book is my favorite. It's called East of the Sun and West of the Moon. Actually, it's a reprint of the book, first printed in 1914. It is a collection of magical northern folk tales, wonderful, beautiful, inspiring illustrations. No matter what style you use, you can always find some interesting ideas and colors in these books. I use this book as inspiration for some color combination for monotype print. As you can see, the backgrounds used by artists, created mixed technique. It can be monotype. It can be just watercolors. Northern fairy tales are really special ones. Hope you can see it. Yeah, this one is one of my favorites. Here's some black and white prints. We'll also create some black and white monotypes in this class. I think you got the idea of beautiful. Another book is a Japanese woodblock prints. I'm sure you've seen this in the local bookstore somewhere else. I like it because there are lots of beautiful color combinations too. It's not necessarily for print or whatever you want, just beautiful to watch. Look at this. I think I'll put it on the wall. What do we have here? Beautiful sceneries, it's really good for monotype, waterfalls. I'm sure you've seen this picture before. This one, and of course, yeah, you know what, I don't have to tell you what it is. With a collection of Japanese woodblocks. Another book, its also Japanese woodblocks, created by Hiroshige. It's the most popular, if I may say so, author of this type of work. I like the composition of his works and, of course, colors too. They were limited by technique, and that's why they had to search for the most striking combinations. We should keep that in mind. Nature, cities, drawings at night, some strange animals, who are they? I have no idea. Wolves, probably not. Well, really interesting to browse this books. I just wanted to show you my little collection. I think we are ready to go forward and finally create our first monotype. 4. Demo 1: Winter Forest: We are ready to begin our first monotype artwork. Here's the piece of glass I showed you in the materials section. Cheap, one from the photo frame, you don't have to buy anything. Why glass is comfortable? Because you can put a white paper underneath it and feel the composition. Well, I'll just show you how I do this. I'm going to create winter forest. I'm going to print it on the coated paper. It feels like a calendar paper, the ones they use in printing houses. Actually I bought it in the printing house and then cut it all the size I need it. It was very inexpensive. Let's begin. I'll need a bit of white gouache, because it's a winter scene. We have to use some white color just a little bit and everything else will be blue, bluish blue. I still not to sure what brush we're going to use, let's try this one. Let's try these blue. Yeah. The magic begins. Don't be afraid to make any lines you want. But keep in mind that the composition will be mirrored. What you see now will be switched. Well, I think I need more solid brush. Feel like somehow I'll need to buy new to buy new paints with all this. Hey I just lots of brush strokes. I'll leave some space. I've no idea what's going to happen. A lot of water. There are actually no rules at all, but there is no guarantee also. It can be very beautiful result, it can be so sore result. You can leave it purely as it is, or draw some additional elements afterwards. I'm planning to draw something. I'm not worried a lot about what's happening right now. It feels like a huge blue mess. Both this might actually. It's time to make our first print. I'm a bit nervous too. I think that maybe it's just some more spots. We're taking our paper hand without any fear putting it on our drawing. Now we are ready to pull it. If you want some gradient, some smooth transitions. You have to lift the paper very smoothly. But if you want to have some fractals, you're going to lift it very quick. This was [inaudible]. Are you ready? Look what we have. Do you see this beautiful fractals. There will be even more. I feel that this illustration needs some trees. It totally looks beautiful. The case we don't need it for a while. Go away. Now we have to turn on our imagination. What can we do here? Obviously, it's a winter forest. What should be in winter forest? Some trees. I'm going to add couple of here, couple of them here. I'm using the same color I used for. It's funny how people draw trees differently. Some prefer starting with the top and going down. Well, of course everything it's a matter of taste. I'm going to push it. This one looks promising. Brave strokes. Well, it's drying. I'll draw some additional runs here. As you've probably guessed, my plan is to have some white gouache as a stone. Some artists don't add anything to the monotypes but I prefer more favoritive [inaudible] in this technique. I'll show you different types of monotypes here. You'll be able to choose what you like best. I'm going to just create colors [inaudible] I'm happy with them. I'll put some traces. Looks like this moment tree. Yeah, [inaudible] bush. Sooner, maybe it's not, not sure. I need to add more details to see. This blue is so strong, I'm not sure if I need to get another brush. I have it somewhat here, but this one is my favorite. I'm going to use this one. Yeah, here's the white, white master. Some white bushes here and there. Some snow. You can even draw some snowflakes. They look beautiful on the dark background. Patches here and there about the places where the paint is not dry yet. Snow on the trees. Some snow here. Here I feel some is left behind. Maybe add something like this. You can even draw a tree with white. Look quite beautiful. It's so difficult to talk and draw and think at the same time, but I know for you the most important is the process, the technique so you just can ignore my train of thoughts if I may say so. Very beautiful. What else? It's a pretty quick sketch and the winter forest is almost ready. As you can see you can add enormous amount of details or add nothing, and it's all up to you. You may have very beautiful result at the end. What I love is that, it's really hard to guess how this illustration was made. Here will show it to the water color artist, he'll think that you've created the background using gradients and so on and so forth. But actually, it isn't so. Well, it's drying and I want to add some small details here and there. I took number one brush to draw the small branches and our trees. This process is one of my favorites. Just really hard to stop. I think it's enough says my head. [inaudible] I think we should add a bit more snow and here's how we do it. We're taking some wash here and we're taking another brush. You just take this moment and you see little splashes. I know it's a famous trick. How people use the left hand, I wonder, but it works so why not use it? I wanted to touch a small snowy particles. Maybe even more. We're almost done. Of course, you could have stopped at any moment. Just my vision of this of this painting, this monotype. Snowy forest. I love the contrast. We're ready to sign our work and forward to the next one. Let's move forward. 5. Demo 2: Medusa: Now when we created our first monetized print, we are ready to move forward. Here's what left from the previous print. Now I have to clean the glass. That's when we use a piece of wet cloth. We remove the paint and preparing ourselves for the new maybe. We're ready to create a new illustration. I want to show you how to create a Medusa. You notice terrible or nice Krishna under the sea. I really loved how it looks like and I'm trying to express it with monotype. I'm going to use blue color and troll. It's easy for me to draw like this standing because I can put all the pressure ON my hand. I also a contrast color. In this case, I think the red one will look very effective. I don't want the color it to mix at this stage, so I put it on the white space here, but don't mix here. Now let's create a print. Here is our paper. Don't be afraid and put it right away. What I'm going to do is not to lift the paper just super quickly, but to remove it step-by-step to create borders. You'll see how it looks. Hopefully it all goes well. We'll see this examples. Slowly, and here is where I want to begin with this borders. It will look like medusa at the end. It looks both like a fish or like a Medusa. I like how it looks like. I think maybe even add some additional shapes. We can try one more time. The same thing, we're cleaning up. Lets paint again. Medusa, it's this [inaudible] and red dots. Then I can choose which one you like better. Well, let's see. I'll pick a frame. I know you know how to do this. Then we lift the paper step-by-step. To add these lines. This one is fantastic. Beautiful. That's the result I wanted to achieve. It's finished illustration, and it's absolutely created without computer and all the small patterns, beautiful. I even don't want to add anything. Well, we're real masters now. Let's move forward and see what we can do once again. 6. Demo 3: Black Gold Abstract: Now, let's try and create some abstract art. Don't be afraid. It will look beautiful, I promise. Here is our glass and some paper underneath, just to feel the position and look for inspiration in the book. Here are some beautiful bridges and mountains views of Edo. I decided to keep this image just for reference. I am not copying anything because it's an abstract after all. Now what I'm going to do is, I'm going to paint with a black, paint something. Well, maybe a tree, some abstraction. Maybe mountains, some strange mountains. Make some really unexpected ways. What do we need? We need a contrast color. The monotype will be more interesting. Here comes yellow, add some water. Here comes to yellow. I don't want to mix with a black right away. I wanted it to happens a bit later. So that's why I'm avoiding that direct contact there, not always. It's happening. Then I'm going to show you another method, and not so new shit with paper, but make the opposite thing, and it looks beautiful. Obstruct art. Lots of dirty panes everywhere. What I'm going to do, I'm going to get our paper, place it underneath, and turn the glass down. We will see how magic happens. Wonderful. With the pressure of your fingers, you can control how the colors mix with each other. You can take a photo of this, it's just the finished artwork, I think. It's like a game, but it's not finished. When the pressure is gone, the image will be completely different. So I just wanted to show you this method. Some people prefer to create monotype this way to see how it creates this freckles, this forests. Now it's time to take away the paper. I'm going to make it slowly, but with this movement, which will create this beautiful, you see, borders along the way, and we're done. Amazing. That`s why I love monotype, you never know what happens. But it's absolutely beautiful. 7. Demo 4: Classic Approach: Welcome back, so now when we're almost masters, we can try something really challenging. We will try a classic approach. Here is already created illustration am going to put under the glass, so it will be easier to redraw. I'm going to be using only black watercolor paint, and paint right on the glass. It's a really nice and fulfilling experience. I understand why the guy said that his favorite thing in monotype is the process itself. Don't be afraid if you have to repeat the work several times, it's always a matter of chance, when you work in this technique. Just fill in this areas, this column, distance village. I'm going to redraw this a little bit afterwards, after the print is made. I want to create this beautiful classic feeling, so I'm going to add a border to the whole illustration. That's right, just a little friend here, and his little friend here. I'm not trying to be very accurate, I can redraw it a bit later, details a bit later. I want to have here a thick layer of paint, so it will print properly. This small detail will leave afterwards, we'll let them. Some pieces here, some pieces there, our little friend, it's in the grass standing here, but I think it got the idea. Let's make a print and see how we created it. Shouldn't be very dry, or super with offer, or we won't be surprised. I'm using just sketch paper like, bristol paper, it won't create any fractals, but we need another effect this time. Let's leave the paper on both sides, we won't get any gradients. This is the real print for our work, and we don't need it anymore. Now I'm going to add some details to get it closer to the origin. Like add in some details of trees, and make them beautiful. I can change it to forest. I think I need some. Here was the small trees, here's the huge tree, you see them, penthouse appear wet, so got a bit confused. Now the trees that are recognizable, that's what we wanted, so we have here, still want the frame to be more visible, maybe some branches here and there, and here, you see them through trees, and some grass. What he's eating, I miss more on details, maybe you don't want to add anything here, but I would love to add some details, to make our monotype more classy, like we have plants. Now let's move from deleting grass, to some anything fancy. Trees working perfectly. Here's our finished artwork. I'm really happy with the result. As you can see, I've sided as professional artists do. Maybe it's better to see like this. If you want to make such a signature, you have to write paintings title, then your signature. A/P means alters print, that's what we do now, and the year of creation. I really hope to see such an artwork of yours. Now when we created this classic artwork, we can try another one in this technique. As last time I'm taking the already created illustration, feathers folded under the glass, and color it with black water color paint with a thick layer. This idea is perfect for any present to family and friends, because it's pretty quick to create and looks really beautiful. Let's see how it comes out. Put in the thick amount of paint. Here, here, and peacocks feather. Actually I have a peacocks feather at home. I'll show it Sunday. I really hope I'll create the workshop just how to draw feathers, and I think we need some more thin brush. Number 2 works good. Don't forget that the pen should be not very dry, but not super wet too. There are no rules in creating a feather, so it's comfortable to drive, you actually come to a low feather will be fine to see. This is our peacock friend, and remember we can add details afterwards. There are no strict rules anymore to the monotype. This one can be tricky, but we are not afraid. My hands are already covered with black paint all over. It looks really easy. Now let's check if there are some dry paint. we need to refresh it a bit, but not too much, or it will create some just splash. Here I think I can give it a go, or gestural feathers from the glass. The same paper for sketchy, and here, and lift it up from the two corners at the same moment. We don't want any fractals or pattern this time. Here are our feathers. It looks pretty nice, but it definitely needs some additional work, which we can do. Just painted some fine lines. Well, if you'll be more patient than I, you may even skip this step and do this during the monotyping process. I'm sure you can do better than this one. Just add smaller tails. It's not much, just to make more beautiful form. Now we wait till it's dry and maybe it'll be nice to add some touches of gold here. For this occasion, I have my golden inks with me, and dry the brush, and I'm not afraid to use it. Let's lift some small amount. Once again the smaller brush for that. Add some glowing, more feathers. Can be a nice gift. I'm sure you got the idea. Covers' the back paints, so you don't have to worry about anything. Now, let's sign our work. As I told you before, the name, like Free France, I don't know, and your signature. This is the author's print and the year and we're done. We did it great during this class. We created two classic artworks. It was difficult, but we made it. Now we have the wonderful [inaudible] scene and three feathers. You can use as a gift or they're really easy to draw. We used golden inks to add some magic. Now, let's try something else. 8. Demo 5: Owl: Welcome back. Now, we're going to try something new. This illustration for Japanese woodblock prints is partly to create this next one. It's simply a cute owl and I love the colors. For this monotype, I'll use so called stone paper. Actually it's pretty weird. It's 100 percent artificial paper made of some plastic I think. It's water tight and it's tear proof. So it gives some really unexpected effects. Well, we'll check that out. Our glass. Let's put a blank piece of paper under it to feel their composition better. What I'm going to do this time, I'm going to not sandwich the paper with the glass but create the opposite sedation. My English is terrible. Let's move forward. I think that in German and in Russian all this stuff is pretty difficult. Our little old friend. This brown looks good. I don't know what's going to happen at the end. So don't blame me. Our owl friend is probably recreating some funny character monotype. Don't forget, the image will be mirrored once you create the monotype. Some feathers. He will face, maybe even like this. Of course, the brunch. You can mix the colors but they should be close to each other, so it won't be, and makes a terrible disaster at the end. We're creating something simple. I just want to show you how the paper looks like. Now we need to add some contrast color. We need some more pigment. It looks pretty psychedelic. Psychedelic scene. Really. But I'm somehow elaborate. Now, I'm taking this stone paper. I'm going to put it underneath. Let's turn it upside down. Magic happens. Pushing it a little bit, some colors mix together some don't. As you can see, there are endless results how you can work with this technique. You can even move the glass little bit to create this strange effects. It looks like Batman. Well, it's not so bad to have a Batman as a friend these days. Some more turn. I think we can try to, I think it's better you to. Let's make it quickly. Here it is. We don't need it anymore. Here's our little strange but charming friend. I think he needs eyes and some details. He looks really nice. Our little mono type owl on stone paper. A little friend. Ready to begin his new life. What are you talking about? Some batman ears. Great. I think for unpredictable technique, we did a really great job. I'm going to send it just like the usual illustration. Let's try another mono type. 9. Demo 6: Adding Background: Congratulations on getting so far. You're really creative person. This is the last thing I want to show you about monotype. Adding monotype effect to already existing artwork. I'll take my illustration I've created on the Chinese paper. I think it's rice paper or something like this. It's used for calligraphy and inking. What I want to do, what I'm doing, is draw some brushed lashes and then put the paper on them. I'll create them on monotype on the artwork itself. Let us see how it will look like. I'm not sure what the result, but I'm ready to be surprised. Isn't it wonderful? Sure. I'm talking with myself. I'm keeping in mind that the image will be muraled, that's why. Well, I think the combination of blue and red, can be effective on rice paper, it's like us punched so it absorbs everything. Here, I have to put lots of paper. I just hoped to create some unusual effect maybe. I have no idea how it will look at the end. But that's what monotype is good for. Endless possibilities, experimenting. No failures at all, only interesting opportunities. What do you think? Let's give it a try. Maybe add some more water. I'm afraid, but it's nothing to be afraid of right now. Maybe just some water here and there. I'm thrilled to see what happens next. Hopefully, something good. My dear illustration. Here it is. The Chinese Sumi-e paper absorbs everything so quickly, it dries very fast, and it's a special type of paper. I promise I'll will show you different types of paper in this class so I get my word. Here it is. Well, it's definitely in the usual results. It looks really interesting. I think if you try and if you have this idea in mind, you can make it even more beautiful, you can really make it better. I believe you can make better but you see the idea. Great. I think we did a great job and learned a lot today. Thank you for watching. 10. Your Task: So now you've seen how to create your own unique monotype print. Your task is to create your own monotype print using any pieces of advice from this class and share your process along the way. I'd love to see your works in the project gallery. Also if you'd like to be featured on one of my social media channels, just take me on your images so I can find them. 11. Final Thoughts: Well, this is it. I really hope you enjoyed watching the class and it inspired you to create more beautiful artworks. The simple and fulfilling technique boosts your imagination and creativity. It develops not only metaphoric vision, but gives you a truly unique experience. Thanks again for watching, and if you like the class, don't forget to leave a feedback in the right corner. It's really, really important for a class to trend very well. Well, I'm looking forward to your projects, post them in the project gallery and hope to see you very soon.