Backgrounds 101

Hello and welcome to the first session of printing backgrounds!

In this session, I am using Liquitex acrylics and Golden Fluid acrylics with an 8x10 gel plate. 

I demonstrate how the prints look  different on different substrates, specifically I'm using cheap, recycled construction paper, deli paper and copy paper. This video has basic monoprinting techniques. If you're just starting out with a gel plate and brayer, please note that it will take you a couple of sessions to figure out how much pressure to apply on your gel plate. 

Think of the gel plate as being similar to your skin...if you've ever used a jade roller on your face for a rejuvenating massage, you'll know that applying too much pressure hurts but if you apply too little, you don't get the benefits of the massage. Bad analogy? :) OK!

Some Tips

  1. The brand of your colors doesn't matter. I find the Golden (more expensive) line to be very pigmented but Liquitex Basics (more affordable) are just as vibrant. I have also used craft paint from Walmart and gotten good results when layering, but I would not recommend those by themselves for making single layer backgrounds.
  2. Use colors that work together. Stare at your color wheel and pick colors that are analogous (right next to each other) or complimentary (opposite each other). You can also start out with just one color and do a gradient (light to dark) to get a feel for the brayer. I found this resource to be really helpful when I was starting out even though it's geared toward online visual design. I appreciated the insights it provided in helping me understand how I was ending up with so much "mud" in my prints. It's another thing that I started appreciating that mud with time :)
  3. Do not put too much paint on your plate. Start with a little bit and roll it out multiple times before deciding to add more. 
  4. Try different varieties of paper besides the three I showed you; think newspapers, old books, tissue paper, scrapbook paper, old envelopes, etc. Think of it as swatching when you get a new set of paints. Heavier cardstock (120lb) with a smooth surface will have a smoother print than textured watercolor paper. It boils down to personal preference at the end of the day, so before you advance into making patterns, determine which paper choice yields the best prints for YOU!
  5. For a handy list of answers to most commonly-asked questions about the gel plate, please refer to the Gelli Arts FAQs page.

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