Step 1: Materials
A drawing (if you are a spontaneous person or like to work abstractly this isn't nessisary) A sheet of bright white 22x30" rives BFK paper Tracing paper Akua monotype ink and retarder A super thin sheet of plexiglass A TON of Q-tips, but you can also experiment with paint brushes, pencils, anything you can make marks on the plate with! Blue shop towels Running alcohol Latex gloves Dawn soap or Bon Ami At least one brayer (I like Speedball brand) Newsprint Access to an etching press or on iMclains.com has a monotype roller you can buy online
Step 2: Drawing and Tracing
Take an existing drawing or create a new one. After you have your drawing take a sheet of tracing paper and trace your image with a sharpie. Once you are done tracing flip the tracing paper over and write front (remember when printing images are printed opposite of what is on the plate! That's why this step is nessisary if you want your image to appear like the original drawing). Take your plate and place it over your image and trace. Decide what colors you want where and mark the areas where the colors go.
Step 3: Tearing Paper and Registration
There is a front and a back to printmaking paper. How you tell is by looking for the watermark which should be in the right hand corner if it is right side up. Identify the watermark and turn your paper upside down for tearing. The plate I am using is 8x10" which fits well into quarter sheets and gives me four prints. If you prefer to work larger you can tear your page in half or not tear it at all it's up to you. To tear your paper use a tear bar or a large ruler and hold it down on your paper with a good amount of pressure then use your other hand to carefully tear. After tearing paper use your initials to mark the top right corner on the back of the paper. To create a registration sheet trace a sheet if your torn paper onto a large piece of newsprint. Then place your plate in the center of your outline for the paper. In printmaking it is better to have more space on the bottom of the paper than have the image right in the middle. The space between the sides and the top should all be equal.
Step 4: Setting Up Work Area
Cover work area with old newspapers or a messy mat. Out your tracing paper over a blank sheet of newsprint and over that a large thick clear piece of plexiglass to hold everything down. Set out inks and brayers, gloves, towels, rubbing alcohol, and Q-tips and place the paper you are going to print on aside so it stays clean. Wash your plate with dawn soap and degrease it with Bon ami. Dry the plate and place it over your image in your work area. You can hold the plate in place by using your finger to drop a bit of water under the plate.
Step 5: Setting the Press
The press that I am using is made by Takach here in Albuquerque, your settings may differ depending on the press you are using. For monotypes the pressure should be 23. This means that the number 3 needs to be over the number 2 on both sides of the press. After setting the pressure roll out the press lift the felts and place your registration sheet on the press.
Step 6: Inking and Wiping
On your plate drop 3 to 4 drops of the lightest color you will be using, I am using hansa yellow. Then drop an equal amount of retarder on the plate. Take your brayer and roll across your plate a few times, going up then down and letting the roller spin before rolling it again. Leave the plate alone for a minute. After a minute you may add more drops of color but you will not need any more retarder until you switch colors. Apply a smooth even amount of ink over the plate then using Q-tips or tools of your choose to remove areas that are white or need to be other colors (for example purple or red, my fox will be orange so in all orange areas yellow stays same for green. Also do not erase any areas that need to be black because layering all the colors will give you a nice dark tone.)
Step 7: Printing Your First Color
Take your plate and place it ink side up on your registration sheet where you marked your plate to go. Then take your paper and place the right side (your initials should be on the back) down on the plate within the paper outline on the registration sheet. Put a sheet of newsprint over your paper and set the felts down on the press pulling and smoothing out any wrinkles. Roll the press through then carefully lift felts, remove newsprint, and remove your paper from your plate. Set your first layer aside until your ready to print the next color. You can make more yellows (or whatever your lightest color is) now, but if you are uninterested in having more than one print you can move on to the next color.
Step 8: Adding Second Color
Wash and degrease your plate when you are ready to move on the the next color. Your second color should be darker than your first but not your darkest. Again add your color and retarder like the first color. When you have an even coat erase all areas that are white or need to stay your first color and leave all areas that will blend with the first color or be the new color or areas that need to be black. When you are ready to print take your paper with the first color and place it on the press first then take your plate and place it ink side down on the paper over your first color. Place newsprint over your plate and paper and ruin through the press. Take the paper and set aside until ready to print next color.
Step 9: Adding Third Color
Wash and degrease plate and ink like the previous times. Remove white areas and colors that need to remain the same leaving only what needs to be the new color or blends with the previous colors, your matrix, or outline will be all the layers of color layered on top of each other like you can see on my fox. Print like before and you're done! Let your prints dry and then editing them under your image as such: "Title" 1/4 (if you just made one just put 1/1) Your Name and the year it was made.