Gel Printing Basics

by Lydia Fiedler

Learn the basics of monoprinting on a gel printing plate.


  • Gelli Arts™ Gel Printing Plate or homemade gel plate - instructions for the homemade version here
  • Acrylic paint (Golden Open Acrylics® used here)
  • Rubber brayer
  • Plain hand sanitizer
  • Paper towels
  • Stencils and/or masks, die cuts, etc.
  • Cardstock
  • Freezer paper
  • Catalyst Wedges, stamps, sponges, doilies, leaves, string or other texturing tools (optional)


  1. Step 1

    Remove the two protective plastic sheets from your Gelli Plate, set them aside, and put the plate on a piece of freezer paper that is taped down to the work surface. Do not place the gel plate on a porous surface or anything with texture - this will permanently imprint the surface of the plate.

  2. Step 2

    Put a few dabs of acrylic paint on your plate - a little goes a long way. Use a single color or multiple colors. Some colors are more opaque than others - Golden shows the opacity on the label, so think about that when building your layers.

    Tip - if using a Gelli Plate - see manufacturer instructions for appropriate paints - some products are not recommended and will stain the plate.

  3. Step 3

    Using a rubber brayer, spread the paint out

  4. until the plate is completely covered.

  5. Step 4

    Place a stencil or a mask on the prepared plate. If you are using letters or numbers, be sure to put them on backwards, so they print in the correct orientation.

  6. Step 5

    Place a piece of cardstock onto the plate, and rub all over the cardstock with both hands with even pressure.

    To print in the same area each time on multiple prints, mark on the freezer paper where the corners of your first piece of cardstock are, and line up subsequent prints with this mark.

  7. Step 6

    Starting at the corner, lift the first print off the plate.

  8. Set it aside to dry.

    Open acrylics stay wet longer which makes them great for gel printing, but you do need a place to put your prints without stacking them while the paint dries.

  9. Step 7

    Carefully lift the stencil from the plate without disturbing the paint that's trapped underneath.

  10. Repeating Step 5, you can now pull a second print with this negative image.

  11. Step 8

    To clean the plate between prints, apply some plain hand santitizer to the plate and wipe gently with a paper towel.

  12. To clean the brayer between prints, simply roll it back and forth on scrap cardstock.

  13. Step 9

    The key to beautiful prints is layering. Prep the plate with different paint colors and different masks or stencils.

  14. Take one of the earlier prints and print it with the prepared plate.

  15. Step 10

    Keep layering on top of existing prints until you are satisfied with the result.

  16. Experiment with a combination of opaque and transparent paints and a variety of masks. Never give up on an early print - they get better with each layer.

  17. Step 11

    Use your finished print with dies, as a background, or for an art journal page.


Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Gel Printing Basics. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

***Please note - Internet Explorer/Edge is not a supported browser, and will not allow you to see the videos. Please use Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view our tutorial videos.

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

Super tutorial and so much fun. I haven't yet used the Golden Open Acrylics but looks like something I would really like.
Benzi  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 5:39 AM
so that is what you were up to! Great tutorial. Your instructions are easy to follow and great tips. thanks for sharing your art, Lydia.
Meg McAlister  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 5:53 AM
Great video that makes me itch to play again! I made a homemade gelatin plate to try out the technique and see if I liked it before I plunked down precious craft $$ on a new tool. I haven't made the purchase yet, but it is definitely on the top of the wish list. So much fun!
Gail (mamaxsix)  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 5:55 AM
I loved the tutorial. I didn't see you use the stencil once you removed it from the gelli plate. You can put it face down on another piece of card stock and use the ink from that too.
Tina Van Eick  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 6:48 AM
I was wondering what all the buzz around Gelli plates was was -- great instructions and samples. I will be jumping in soon.
Mary Beth West  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 7:51 AM
Thanks so much for this! I got a gelli plate for Christmas and so far have been too intimidated to use it. Love that you showed the effects from the different types of paint and how wonderful the layering becomes. Can't wait to play now.
Donna Mundinger  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 10:10 AM
WOW Lydia! Your video and instruction were absolutely amazing! I have to get me one of these! What a fabulously fun technique. Thank you so much for sharing!
Cindy Coutts  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 10:57 AM
So much fun! So little time! I've got to try this soon. Thanks for all the great tutorials, especially the tips to keep us new ones from making bad mistakes.
Brenda Dickey  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 11:31 AM
Thanks for the tutorial! I don't have a Gelli Plate,yet! I have been intimidated by it, but your tutorial was so informative and you took the intimidation out of it with all of your tips! Thank you for sharing with us!
Donna Earley  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 11:50 AM
Very very intriguing! You did a very good job making this video in your calm voice and description. I like that. This looks like something I would love to get into at some point in my paper crafting career!
Dottie  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 4:29 PM
Great tutorial. I have a Gelli plate and have played with it some but now I'm inspired to pull it out and play some more.

One question though...where did you get the pocket watch & gears stencil? I really liked that one.
dianahaynwilliams  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 4:44 PM
Awesome! Another thing I need! Do they make the plates in different sizes? I only make cards so I wouldn't need a large plate. I'm sure if I use the right stencils I could cut the paper to sizes I need later.
muscrat  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 4:48 PM
Hi Kathy! They DO - I also have the smaller 6x6 plate and I covet the 8" round plate. My plate is the 8x10, but they have a larger 12x14 as well.
Lydia Fiedler  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 6:25 PM
Diana - those stencils with the watches, etc. are from Tattered Angels - they are the Tattered Traveler Glimmer Screens.
Lydia Fiedler  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 6:31 PM
Hi Lydia, thanks for the wonderful tutorial! So much fun!
Brenda Penner  |  Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 8:54 PM
These are gorgeous! I want to try doing this. Thanks for the tutorial.
Debra Carey  |  Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 8:03 PM
Lydia, I am very inspired by your video. I have ordered the 6 X 6 plate and some stencils to give it a try. I love that it is so imperfect. I guess that is how art should be, right? Thank you so much.
Angie Antczak  |  Tue Apr 1, 2014 at 8:17 AM
Amen to that Angie - perfection isn't normal! smile

Thank you for your kind words - can't wait to see what you do!
Lydia Fiedler  |  Tue Apr 1, 2014 at 8:19 AM
BEAUTIFUL!!! AND FULL of hints that I haven't heard elsewhere! THANKS LYDIA!!!!! wink
Becky Green  |  Fri Feb 24, 2017 at 9:15 AM

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