RELIEF PRINTS – Marker and Craft Foam

Students create relief prints using craft foam and markers.

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 9


Art Techniques
Language Arts


inking plate print printing plate printmaking relief print


Crayola Broad Tip Markers Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") - 4 pieces per student Crayola Scissors Crayola Washable No-Run School Glue Craft Foam - 15.2 cm x 22.9 cm (6" x 9") - 1 per student Foam Core Board - 15.2 cm x 22.9 cm (6" x 9") - 1 per student Ball Point Pens Small Pieces of Sponge Water Containers Paper Towels

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RELIEF PRINTS – Marker and Craft Foam - Step One

Step One

Printing Plate

  1. Cut shapes out of the craft foam and glue them to the foam core board.
  2. Use a ball point pen to draw into the craft foam to add texture and details.
  3. This is your printing plate.
  4. Allow the craft foam to dry before beginning to print.
RELIEF PRINTS – Marker and Craft Foam - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Use the flat side of the markers to colour the printing plate.
  2. Blend and mix colours to get interesting effects.
  3. Apply lots of ink.
RELIEF PRINTS – Marker and Craft Foam - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Use a sponge dipped in water to dampen a piece of printing paper.
  2. Place the dampened paper on top of the inked printing plate.
  3. Rub your hands back and forth over the paper.
  4. Apply a firm, even pressure to transfer the ink to the paper.
RELIEF PRINTS – Marker and Craft Foam - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Pull the paper off the plate.
  2. Compare the print with the printing plate.
  3. What do you notice?
    - Is there still ink on the plate and not enough ink on the print?
    - Do the lines and details show up?
    - Are the colours bright and interesting?
    - Are there any changes you want to make before you make another print?
  4. Clean the printing plate with water and some paper towel.
  5. Now you’re ready to start again.
  6. Make 4 prints.
  7. Place your damp prints under some heavy books until they are dry to keep the paper nice and flat.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create several relief prints;
  • experiment with a variety of ways to use colour;
  • explain their process; 
  • express opinions about the works.


Have students:

  • apply what they have learned to create an edition of prints based on a theme;
  • teach others how to make an edition of prints;
  • share their work with others.



  1. Has a long history throughout the world. It is an interesting approach to art making because it gives many unexpected results and can lead to new ways of thinking. 
  2. Relief prints are made by inking a raised surface and pressing that surface onto another surface such as paper.
  3. This craft foam technique may be used to make simple or complex prints using markers, washable paint of printmaking ink.
  4. The following Canadian printmakers are among many you could introduce to your students depending on the focus of your printmaking lessons:
    Kenojuak Ashevak (stonecuts, stencils – Inuit artist famous for her prints of birds) 
    Richard Tetrault (woodcuts, linocuts, monotypes – Vancouver artist creates images of the changing urban landscape)  
    David Blackwood
     (etchings, woodcuts – creates visual stories about Newfoundland) 


  1. Create a sample.
  2. Place students in groups of about 6 so they can share materials and learn from each other.
  3. Cover tables with newspaper and have paper towels on hand.
  4. Make sure you have a separate spot to place the prints while they dry.


  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. 
  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. 
    - They all produce many copies of the same image. 
  4. Explain that today's lesson is a workshop to explore how to make relief prints with craft foam and markers.
  5. It's for experimenting and trying out ideas to see what happens.
  6. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create 4 relief prints.
  2. Experiment with a variety of ways to add colour.
  3. Demonstrate technical accomplishment.
  4. Explain your process.

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 4 relief prints
    - added details and texture with lines
    - used different colours
    - explained my process
    - kept the paper in good condition
    - made clean prints
  3. Demonstrate how to create a relief printing plate using craft foam.
  4. Show how you can draw into the craft foam with a ball point pen to make texture marks.
  5. Encourage students to experiment with a variety of ways of applying colour.
  6. Explain that it is important to keep the printing paper clean so only the print shows - no fingermarks or smudges
  7. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  8. Observe students as they work.
  9. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Display the completed prints as a body of work.
  2. Ask students to find 3 things that interest them about one of the prints focussing on use of colour, details, texture, and technical accomplishment.
  3. Ask students to share what they found challenging about making these relief prints, and what they found easy.


  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 - PRINTMAKING_tracking.sheet.pdf)
  5. Have students reflect on their own artworks in their sketchbooks/journals. Ask students to write: 
    What do you like best about the prints you made?
    How did you use colour in different ways?
    How does your work show technical accomplishment?
    What did you learn about printmaking by making these prints?
    What more would you like to learn?