Printmaking (with Foam)

Printmaking is a creative, tactile lesson that offers your kids the chance to explore a new medium.

There are lots of different types of printmaking:

  • Monoprinting: This is where you paint an image onto e.g. the back of a baking tray, and get one ‘print’ by pressing your blank paper on top of it. You can only get one print, as the detail is removed by the transfer paper – hence the name ‘monoprinting’.
  • Screen-printing: This is where you press ink through a stencil onto the page underneath. Screen-printing was most famously used by Andy Warhol in such pieces as ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’ and ‘Marilyn Diptych’.

The type of printing that will be discussed here, however, is relief printing. This is where an imaged is carved into a surface, and transfer paper is pressed on top of the inked surface. This is commonly done using lino and lino cutters, but this post will look at using foam instead, as it is cheaper and more readily available.

Image result for foam print



  1. Place your foam sheet on a blank sheet of paper, and trace the outline.
  2. Sketch your image inside the space you have outlined on the paper.
  3. Place the foam sheet underneath the image, and trace over each line, checking to make sure the image is transferring across. (You can skip steps 1 and 2 and just draw on the foam, but it is more difficult).
  4. Recycle the paper drawing. Retrace the drawing on the foam, etching each line deeply to create relief. (i.e. to ensure that the image you have sketched is ‘deeper’ in the foam than the rest of the sheet).
  5. Place a small amount of printing ink on the glass plate, and roll the ink roller through it until you have an even coating.
  6. Apply the ink to your foam drawing, ensuring you cover the space evenly.
  7. Take a fresh piece of A4 paper, and place it carefully on top of your inked foam drawing. Taking care that the paper does not move, press it into the foam to allow the ink to transfer. You need to apply plenty of pressure at this stage. Use the palm of your hand, a wooden spoon, or a clean ink roller.
  8. Peel off the paper, and check out your print!
  9. Repeat steps 5-8 if you like he great thing about these prints is that you can create multiple copies, as the printing process itself doesn’t remove any detail.  You can even wash the foam with a damp sponge cloth if you want to use a different colour!

Here’s a video that I found online that I think gives a good overview of the process – there’s no sound however!


I hope this post helps, and you give printmaking a try with your class. Let me know if you do @irishguyteaching on Instagram!


Posted in: Art

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