EXPLORING LINES – Relief Printmaking

Students use a variety of objects and marker ink to explore line and relief printmaking. 

Required Time

40 Minutes

Grade Level

Kindergarten to Grade 6


Art Techniques
Language Arts


contrast direction focus length line relief print texture width


Crayola Broad Tip Markers Found Objects Plastic Placemat - 1 per student White Paper - 30.5 cm x 45.7 cm (12" x 18") - 1 per student Spray Water Bottles - 1 per 6 students

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EXPLORING LINES – Relief Printmaking - Step One

Step One

  1. Gather a variety of found objects such as small paper cups, cardboard and foam pieces, and other textured surfaces.
  2. Tape string to a rolling pin.
EXPLORING LINES – Relief Printmaking - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Draw marker on the plastic surface using the flat side of the marker.
  2. Spray the marker ink lightly with a small amount of water.


EXPLORING LINES – Relief Printmaking - Step Three

Step Three

  1. ​Roll a rolling pin with string taped to it across the wet ink.
  2. Roll the string over your paper to make a print.
  3. Press an object into the wet ink to pick up as much ink as you can.
  4. Press the inked object onto your paper and press down to make a print.
  5. Print lots of different kinds of lines.
  6. Fill the paper with lots of different marks and colours.
EXPLORING LINES – Relief Printmaking - Step Four

Step Four

  1. View the prints with fresh eyes.
  2. What do they remind you of?
  3. How could you use these ideas in another artwork?

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a variety of lines using simple relief prints;
  • explore a variety of ways to use colour;
  • build on their own and others’ discoveries to generate new ideas;
  • explain their process; 
  • express opinions about the works.


Have students:


  1. Place students into small groups so they can share materials.
  2. Gather plastic placemats one for each student.
  3. Gather a variety of objects such as small paper cups, cardboard strips, foam pieces, textured objects and corks.
  4. Tape string to a rolling pin.
  5. Place the objects into bins for easy distribution.
  6. Download and display the Line and Colour posters available on this website.
    Teach or review:
    - Colour -  primary and secondary colours
    Line - Direction - diagonal, vertical, horizontal, curved; Width - thick, thin, heavy, light, big, small; Length - long, short; Focus - sharp, distinct, blurry, fuzzy; Texture - bumpy, smooth, jagged. broken, dotted


  1. Introduce the idea of printmaking to students by talking about what happens when they walk through a puddle and then onto dry ground.
    - The marks their shoes make are prints – relief prints.
  2. Ask what other types of prints students might know about.
  3. Explain that there are many different ways to make prints and relief prints can be made with many different kinds of materials.
  4. They all produce many copies of the same image. 
  5. Discuss the element of line and characteristics of lines, for example, direction, width, length, focus and texture.
  6. Explain that today's lesson is a workshop to explore how to make a variety of lines with relief prints.
  7. It's for experimenting and trying out ideas to see what happens.
  8. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Make lots of different lines using simple relief prints.
  2. Explore a variety of ways to use colour.
  3. Build on your own and others’ discoveries to generate new ideas.
  4. Explain your process.
  5. Express opinions about the works.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students. For example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created lots of different lines and marks
    - filled the paper with a variety of prints
    - used different colours
    - overlapped marks in different colours 
    - shared ideas with others to come up with my own ideas
    - kept the paper in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5. Encourage them to share and expand on each others' ideas as they explore the materials.  
  6. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    -  Describe the kinds of lines they see in the prints, e.g.,
       Direction - diagonal, vertical, horizontal, curved
       Width - thick, thin, heavy, light, big, small
       Length - long, short
       Focus - sharp, distinct, blurry, fuzzy
       Texture - bumpy, smooth, jagged. broken, dotted
    - Compare their work and describe to each other what they did to get certain effects.

    - Consider how doing these experiments might help them if they were creating another type of artwork.
    - Talk about what was difficult and what was easy for them.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask them to tell how they felt about doing this activity.




  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their artworks – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the artwork, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - LINE_tracking.sheet.pdf)
  5. Have students reflect on their own artworks in their sketchbooks/journals. Ask students to write: 
    What did you see someone trying that you tried too?
    What do you like best about the prints you made?
    What surprised you as you worked with different materials?
    What do the marks remind you of? Why?
    How could you use these ideas in another artwork?