Friday, March 23, 2018

Resist Printing with Gelli Arts® Plates, Books, and Magazines

Hi it’s Birgit here! Today I will show you how you can use old book pages and all kinds of (old and new) magazines for resist printing. It is a very unpredictable technique and it does not always work. But isn’t unpredictable kind of the charm of gel printing!?

I will try to explain with as much detail as possible how to get this to be a success!

What happens when you do resist printing is that some of the ink on the paper you are using to create the image will resist the acrylic paint on the gel plate. This means that the paper is not picking the paint up from the plate but leaving paint behind in certain areas.

The leftover paint on your plate is the resisted image that you can now pull.

You could pull it straight away, but I prefer to pull the print with a second layer of paint, like a ghost print. This allows you to add more colors to the print.

Most of the outcome depends on the paper you use to create the resist.

There is no way I can tell you which paper works and which does not. You can’t see or feel it, at least not in a way I have figured out yet.

I have used paper from old books like an encyclopedia from 1978 to brochures that I got in the mail and magazines that I bought recently. Some were glossy, some were matte, or something in between. I had all 3 of them work fine, but also all 3 of them from other magazines with no result at all.  The only way to find out is try and experiment, fail and succeed. It will be fun and it will be worth it!

The second thing that is important is the amount of paint you use to create the resist!

You need a thin layer, because a thick layer will leave too much paint behind on the plate in the areas that would not resist the paint, and it will not give you a nice print.
On the other hand, the layer should also not be too thin because the paper will always pick up some paint, even in the resist areas, and there has to be some paint to leave behind.

Again, this is a matter of trying and experimenting. Every paint brand is different; circumstances in the room are not the same in the Netherlands as they are in other parts of the world.

The third important thing is the amount of paint you use to pick up the resisted image from the gel plate.
Again, this has to be a very thin layer. If you use too much paint, your paper will only pick up the top layer and not lift the image from the plate.

In general I would say that it has to be so thin that you can just see the image shining through.

A good reference to see if you use the right amount of paint is that when you pull the final print, your gel plate should be totally clean, which means your paper picked up all of the paint! If there is still paint on the plate, then chances are that you used too much paint.

And finally, about the paint. I had really good results with fluid paints and soft body to medium body paints. Not so much with heavy body. I used Gelli Arts® premium acrylics, DecoArt Media, DecoArt Premium, and Amsterdam Standard. They all worked fine.

Use paints that dry relatively fast. You need the resist image to dry completely before pulling it so open paints will make you wait for ages.

When you start experimenting, my advice is to use darker colors for the resist image and lighter/brighter colors to pull the print.

One more thing, for this technique it is best to work with a clean plate. Although I usually like to leave leftovers on the plate to be pulled in a next print, with this technique you don’t get good resist if there is leftover paint.

Now let’s do some printing:
Roll out a thin layer of one or more colors on the plate, make sure you have a nice and even layer.

Place the image you want to “transfer’’ right side down on the plate and rub firmly. This page comes from an old encyclopedia.

Carefully lift up the paper. Then let the transferred image dry well.

When the image is dry, add new paint to the plate. Take as many colors as you like, but make sure that you spread out only a thin layer. You can see here how the image shines through.

Now place a sheet of paper on top right away (don’t let the paint dry), rub firmly, and pull the print.
If you have used the right amount of paint your plate will be clean and you will have a beautiful print.

For the next one I used an image from a fashion magazine.
I followed the same steps, but this time before the paint of the transferred image dried on the gel plate I took an Art Printing plate and added texture to some solid paint areas. Pushing a stamp or texture plate into the paint will remove some paint when lifting it up, which creates beautiful texture.

Another way to add texture to your print is using patterned paper or book paper to print on. Here I used music paper to pull the final print and I love the effect!

Here are some more prints:

In these last prints I not only used a stamp to remove paint and create texture but I also stamped with new colors straight on the plate with the resist image, let everything dry and then pulled the print with a second layer of paint.

Have fun exploring this technique! We would love to see what you create so please share!

© 2018 by Gelli Arts®, LLC Philadelphia, PA
All rights reserved.


  1. Sorcery! I absolutely LOVE IT! Fantastic! Thank you!

  2. That's amazing Birgit. I have to say, it does not look like it should work. Must be magic!

  3. Fantastically Fabulous Birgit, your Gelli Prints are amazing and your tutorial was so easy to follow.... Thankyou Xxxx

  4. Wow I love the ethereal quality of the images. It's well worth the trial and error to produce images like that. Can I ask, does the likelihood of it working in one book or magazine vary? In other words might it work one one page, but not another in the same book or magazine? Many thanks Sandra x

  5. Gosh Birgit, your explanation and photo steps are fantastic, so clear and make it easy to understand the process. I love these prints. I'm just scared of losing some great magazine photos!

  6. you are awesome. thank you for this detailed tutorial. how awesome. i'm gonna give it a try.

  7. Super awesome! Thanks for sharing... Have a great day.

  8. Love this! You've set my brain on fire!

  9. Hi, I have tried several magazine's from Old to new to mailer's , cannot get a print. Love the idea, but stuck!

    1. Same Here, Lori. Bazaar did not work for me amongst others. An old Cosmopolitan is giving me some results though. Only the text sections and only to some degree. The images just don't work. Yet. Hope this helps a bit. It is really hard!

  10. Fantastic technique and a great video and step out, thanks Birgit x

  11. Wow, what a fabulous technique! Thank you so much for sharing x

  12. Are there copyright issues involved with using magazine images?

  13. Love it. I have to skip Easter and go for gelliplate printing now .🤣

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  15. I believe you can use this technique by having photos laser printed at Office Max or a professional copy company. Home printers won’t do the same job. Try having any print you wanted coped at Office Max or Staples. Bring home that image and try this technique.

  16. How do you use your papers after you have printed this technique?

  17. Hi Birgit,
    Love your post! I had success using heavier papers and heavy body acrylics:

  18. I can't wait to try out this technique. I love the end results! Thanks very much for sharing this and for your awesome step-by-step tutorial. You do beautiful work!

  19. Nice prints! Would this technique work if I scanned a photo onto plain printer paper and used the copy? Thank you!

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