Photos and instruction below were taken from the


Table of Contents

Painting On the Plate
Modifying Akua Liquid Pigment
Viscosity Monotypes
Using Needle Applicators
Using Akua Liquid Pigment Pens
Printmaking Paper
Cleaning up
Trouble Shooting


Before beginning,  shake all colors for one minute. Cleaning the plate with soap and water or cleanser before using will prevent Akua Liquid Pigment from beading up on the plate.

Rolling- Up Akua Liquid Pigment

Watch  2 minute video on Rolling-up Akua Liquid Pigment from Safer Printmaking DVD

The instructions below apply to rolling up the monotype plate with Akua Liquid Pigment and printing with a press using dry printmaking papers.

Adding drops of Akua Liquid Pigment to the monotype plate.

STEPS For Rolling up the plate

1. Add a few drops of ink to the printing plate.

  • Small size plates: about 2-3 drops
  • Medium size plates about 5-10 drops
  • Large size plates: about 10-20 drops

2. Add 2 to 3 drops of Retarder into the ink.

  • Mix the ink and Retarder with the edge of the brayer

3. Roll out the ink evenly over the entire plate.

  • Soft rubber brayers or rollers work best

4. Add a few more drops of ink and roll out again.

  • Do not add more Retarder.
  • The ink should be very thin on the plate.

5. Wait three minutes

  • Waiting allows the ink to thicken so additional layers will adhere.

6. Add a few more drops of ink and roll out.

  • Increase the amount of ink by a few drops for each roll up.
  • If the brayer starts to slide, wait another three minutes before continuing.

7. Lift the plate and look through it to see how dense the color looks.

8. Continue adding drops of ink and rolling until the desired density is reached.

Rolling up Akua Liquid Pigment on the monotype plate.

The number of layers needed to reach a solid, opaque color on the plate depends on the pigment. Some pigments cover more readily than others.

  • Black: 8 to 10 layers for the maximum opaque black
  • Yellow: about three layers
  • Blue: about five layers
  • Burnt Sienna: about six layers
  • Ultramarine and the earth colors are the hardest to read, while yellows and reds are the easiest.

TIP: After printing, if you plan to ink up the printing plate again, it is not necessary to clean it unless you are switching to a lighter color. In fact, the ink residue will help build up new ink layers quickly.

William Jung paints on the monotype plate with Akua Liquid Pigment

Painting On the Plate

Pour Akua Liquid Pigment straight from the bottle onto a palette. Dip the brush into the ink and apply to the plate. Clean the brush with water. Dry excess water off the brush before using it again. Check for puddles of ink on the plate. If puddles are seen, blot them with tissue paper before printing

Modifying Akua Liquid Pigment

For fluid brushwork and thin roll up coats, use Akua Liquid Pigment right from the bottle with no modification. A variety of modifiers and methods are available for special effects and changing the consistency of the ink.

To prevent the ink from drying on the plate, add Retarder to Akua Liquid Pigment. This will also help release the ink onto dry paper during the printing process. Only a little is needed, as too much will cause the ink to bead. Retarder is ideal for hot, dry or very cold environments.

To create a wet on wet look, wash effects and blends on monotype plates and paper, use Blending Medium.

  • Apply Blending Medium directly on the monotype plate
  • Brush color over the Blending Medium
  • Blend as desired.

“Air Thickened” Akua Liquid Pigment

Akua Liquid Pigment will “air thicken” after being left uncovered over a period of time on a palette. Air thickened Akua Liquid Pigment will produce a heavier brush stroke and denser roll up coat.

  • Use a watercolor palette with a lid and cover until desired thickness is achieved.

Avoid adding water to Akua Liquid Pigment inks. Water will cause the inks to dry on the monotype plate and prevent them from releasing onto dry paper.

  • Add Extender directly to the colors on the palette that have become too thick. Extender will re-constitute “air thickened” ink. With Extender the ink will again become loose enough to work easily.
  • Extender can also be added to Akua Liquid Pigment to dilute the pigment and create a more transparent ink without effecting the consistency.

Pouring Tack Thickener

To thicken Akua Liquid Pigment and achieve semi-gloss color, add Tack Thickener. With Tack Thickener Akua Liquid Pigment feels more like oil based ink.Tack Thickener also keeps the ink on the surface of the paper so that it remains vibrant after it dries (haziness upon drying indicates the ink has soaked into the paper.

Mixing Tack Thickener
Pour Akua Liquid Pigment into the Tack Thickener. It is always easier to mix a thinner ingredient into a thicker ingredient. At more than 40% the ink becomes grainy. This grainy texture can easily be smoothed out by adding a few drops of Blending Medium.

  • Add 20% to 40% Tack Thickener to Akua Liquid Pigment.
  • Mix with a palette knife

Roll out the tack thickened ink with a soft rubber brayer on a separate ink slab. Once the brayer is evenly coated, roll and transfer the ink onto the monotype plate.

Use only a very small amount of Tack Thickener with Akua Liquid Pigment for brushwork. “Air thickened” Akua Liquid Pigment may be a better alternative.

Reductive Monotype
Akua Liquid Pigment that has been thickened with Tack Thickener will have a different working quality than when used right from the bottle. When drawing into the inked surface of the plate, Tack Thickener makes the ink wipe away with less tonal variations. Therefore, add Tack Thickener to Akua Liquid Pigment only if you want clean sharp lines when doing reductive monotypes. For reductive monotypes with plenty of tonal values use Akua Liquid Pigment alone.


For monotype ghost prints
After the print is made there will be some ink remaining on the plate, which is called the ghost plate. The ghost plate can be printed as a lighter version of the same image or used to develop a new monotype image.

Transparent Base is a water soluble soy based intaglio or relief ink base without the pigment. Add Akua Liquid Pigment and create new custom colors.

  • Add Akua Liquid Pigment into Transparent Base by the drop.
  • No set amount of color is needed, it depends on the artist for their choice of color intensity or transparency.
  • Cleans up with soap and water

Viscosity Monotypes

A viscosity monotype deals with two inks of different viscosity, thick and thin, resisting one another. Thin Akua Liquid Pigment will resist thick Akua Intaglio ink. more info about viscosity / see prints examples.

  • First paint thin Akua Liquid Pigment onto the plate.
  • Then roll thicker Akua Intaglio ink over the painted surface.

TIP: Try using Retarder, Blending Medium or Akua Liquid Pigment Extender for a clear resist. Tack Thickener can also be used in varying amounts for viscosity printing.

Using Needle Applicators

Fill the Bellows-bottles with Akua Liquid Pigment and assemble. Press the bottom of the bottle very gently. It will be ready to use when the color flows to the tip. When the needle is first placed on the plate, a small bead of ink may run off the tip. Before placing the tip on the plate, wipe the bead of ink off by running the tip over a piece of paper. To clean the needle tips, fill a clean Bellows-bottle with water and squeeze the water through the tip. more about needle applicators

Selecting Printmaking Paper

Most printmaking papers work well with Akua Liquid Pigment inks. Our favorite is Arnhem 1618 for both printing with an etching press and hand printing with a Pin Press.

Dry Paper is recommended for Monotype. Printing on dry paper offers higher contrast prints. It also eliminates the possibility of paper shrinkage making it ideal for printing multi-registered plates.

Damp Paper is recommended  if  the paper has a texture. Soak the paper and blot thoroughly before using.

Cleaning up

Most of the time Akua Liquid Pigment, Retarder, Extender, and Blending Medium will clean up easily with just a damp rag.To clean color stained plastic surfaces use liquid dish detergent mixed with water or a non abrasive cleanser such as Bon Ami.

Clean up Akua Intaglio inks, Akua Mag Mix, Transparent Base and Tack Thickener with liquid dish detergent mixed with water. (About 1 part liquid dish detergent to 20 parts water). Before applying water, remove as much ink or modifier as you can with a dry rag. A textured cloth works best.

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Dry Paper wrinkles when going through the press

  • Use a thinner monotype plate

Akua Liquid Pigment is not releasing from plate to dry paper.

  • Apply more pressure
  • Try different papers
  • Add Retarder to the ink

Akua Liquid Pigment rolled on to the plate feels too stiff

Colors on finished prints dry hazy.

  • Haziness upon drying indicates the ink has soaked into the paper.
  • Try a less absorbent paper.
  • Add Tack Thickener to the ink
  • Add less Retarder, Blending Medium, or Extender

Akua Liquid Pigment beads-up on plate
Akua Liquid Pigment may bead up on the plate if the surface is not clean or if too much Retarder, Blending Medium or Extender is added.

  • Clean plate with soapy water before applying
  • Add less Retarder or Extender to the ink
  • Add a drop of liquid dish detergent to ink
  • Apply a thin coat of liquid dish detergent to brush and paint over the beaded area

Rubber Brayer is sliding when rolling-up Akua Liquid Pigment

  • Follow steps for Rolling up Akua Liquid Pigment above

Akua Pigment is too thin when doing a roll up

  • Thicken with Tack Thickener or Air Thicken
  • Use a Foam Brayer
  • Try Akua Intaglio ink

Akua Liquid Pigment is too transparent

  • Select color with intense transparency rating
  • Add white
  • Add Tack Thickener
  • Air Thicken
  • Use Akua Intaglio Inks

Akua Liquid Pigment is too thin for brushing

  • Allow Akua Liquid Pigment to sit on an uncovered palette till it thickens

Puddling of ink occurs with Needle Applicator:

  • Wipe the bead of ink off by running the tip over a piece of paper before placing on the plate
  • Use a plate with a dull surface opposed to slick

Print needs to be dampened for final intaglio plate

  • Spray the back of the print with water


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