A monotype is a print, but with one major difference from other printmaking processes: the artist creates exactly one print, instead of multiples (called editions)
Since each is unique and hand executed, monotypes cannot be considered a technique of multiple replication. But, because they are prints on paper, they are usually classed with printmaking media.
To make a monotype, the artist applies paint or ink directly onto the plate — which can be metal, glass, plexiglas, etc. The plate is pressed against the paper to transfer the ink. The printing can be done with a printing press or sometimes by hand.
A second, lighter impression from the painted printing plate can sometimes be made, though it will be a lot lighter and quite different in quality.
One of the earliest artists to explore the technique was Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (c. 1610–65), who made monotypes from copper etching plates. In the 19th century the English poet and artist William Blake and the French artist Edgar Degas experimented with the technique.