Three Things; Treasury – Mono Printing Photos

Mono printing photographs how to

The treasury today is a HowTo post; how to do a mono print with a photograph. Laura has been experimenting with this technique and some of her Man Ray inspired photographs.

Equipment for mono printing

You will need a roller, printer’s ink, a smooth flat surface, some paper and a photograph

You will need some printer’s ink for this as it is oil based; water based stamp inks or paints won’t work. The ink needs to be tacky and requiring pressure to transfer onto another surface. You will also need an image you don’t mind drawing on, you can draw around the same image a number of times but you don’t necessarily want to do this with your best favourite image. If you want to do this with a treasured photograph then you can photocopy it and use the photocopy to trace.

Rolling printer's ink

Rolling a thin layer of printer’s ink onto a smooth surface

Firstly you place a very small amount of printer’s ink onto your flat surface. We used a butter knife to transfer onto an A4 sheet of Perspex but a glass plate or an old dinner mat will wok just as well. Roll and roll the ink in all directions until a very thin film of ink covers the surface. You then need to place a sheet of paper very gently over the ink, this is the sheet that the image will be formed on. take care not to touch, smooth down or nudge your sheet of paper as that will transfer ink where perhaps you don’t want it.

Tracing a photograph for mono printing

Tracing the lines making sure not to rest your hand

Very gently place your photograph on top of the blank sheet, again taking care not to touch, smooth down or rub the paper. Next use a pencil to trace round the image, using shading,cross hatching and so on to capture the image. The harder you press the more ink is transferred. You can press gently with your finger for a light smudged effect, use the flat end of the pencil for a bold line or the point for dark fine line. You must make sure that you are holding the pencil upright and not resting the rest of your hand on the paper as this will leave smudges.

Traced Photograph

Traced photograph ready to reveal the mono print

Once you have sketched and traced over your photograph you are ready to peel back and reveal your image. Carefully lift the photograph and then the blank sheet.

Mono print from photograph

Finished mono print

Here is a finished mono print, note how the image is reversed. If your photograph has text on it you will have to reverse the image before tracing it or the resulting mono print will have mirror writing.

You may also want to experiment with using something other than a blank sheet to print on. How about combining a photographic background with mono printed details? Or you could use this technique in conjunction with other techniques, perhaps acetone printing?