Media, materials and processes: printmaking

Basic printmaking techniques can help learners to gain insight into some of the ways that images function and are reproduced.

Learning Intentions

  • We are learning how to make a block print.
  • We are learning that a print is a record of a surface.
  • We are learning to make prints on different types of surfaces.
  • We are learning to create both patterns and pictures by printing with objects.
  • We are learning about monoprinting and other printmaking techniques.

Learning Activities

You could ask the pupils to:

  • stamp and/or press a variety of natural and made objects dipped in paint onto paper or fabric. They could use:
    • spools;
    • vegetables;
    • leaves;
    • sponge;
    • crushed paper;
    • corks;
    • flowers; and/or
    • bottle tops;
  • experiment with the amount of paint or ink they use to make a print (too much paint will make a blurred print and too little will make an indistinct print);
  • make random prints of different colours using many objects or blocks; and/or
  • make printing blocks by drawing and impressing into plasticine, clay, potatoes or polystyrene and then inking and printing.

Allow them to try:

  • printing on a variety of surfaces including paper, card, fabric and 3D objects; and/or
  • over-printing onto other pieces of work, for example printing on top of paintings, drawings, textiles and collages to create detail and pattern.

Give the pupils opportunities to experiment with:

  • making several prints from a single object or block to create a simple pattern;
  • using a limited number of objects/blocks and colours (for example two shapes and two colours) to make patterns;
  • organising printing blocks to compose a picture, for example using sponges, card and paint to depict an imaginary creature;
  • taking rubbings from interesting surfaces, e.g. embossed papers, textured card and wood grain; and/or
  • matching up several prints with the objects that created them.

Guide the pupils through the various stages to enable them to:

  • make a monoprint:

1. Ink a smooth surface.
2. Draw a pattern or image into it with fingers or a suitable tool, for example a used, broad felt-tipped pen.
3. Take a print.

  • make a transfer monoprint:

1. Ink a smooth surface with a little printing ink.
2. Place a page on top; do not rub the surface.
3. Draw on the paper surface.
4. Pull off the paper. The drawing is transferred on to the underside of the paper in ink.

  • print on fabric using fabric crayons.