The technique of monoprinting differs from most other printmaking methods in that each print is unique. It can be done with or without a printing press, thus having the ability to produce effective prints with easily obtainable and cost-effective materials.
One variation of the technique uses ink spread thinly over a clean, flat surface—plate glass is preferable, but a table-top will suffice if resources are limited. Thin paper such as newsprint is placed carefully over the inked surface, taking care not to apply excessive pressure to avoid unnecessary marks on the paper. The design is then drawn on the back of the paper with a pencil or ball point pen. This produces a fine, sharp line on the reverse of the paper. Varieties of shade and tone can be produced by using other implements to manipulate the design, such as hands, fingers, spoons &c. When done, the paper is peeled back to reveal the finished monoprint.
The other technique, which uses a press, simply involves painting the entire design on a sheet of perspex or thin metal. The plate is then passed through a rolling or etching press to give a print. A more refined version of this technique involves printing each colour separately to stop smudging and bleeding of coloured inks, starting with paler colours and then adding progressively darker sections. The inks can be applied one on top of another once the first layer has dried, in order to produce a full range of colour and tone.
Monoprinting can be useful as a means of tracing images such as logos or photographs for further study; the image is photocopied and, using the first method, transferred to a blank sheet of paper beneath it.