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
Visual Arts


burnish inking plate print printing plate printmaking relief print


Crayola® Markers Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 8 - 10 sheets 22.5 x 30cm (9 x 12 in) foam board craft foam wooden spoon pencils White Glue

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RELIEF PRINTS – Marker and Craft Foam - Step One

Step One

Create the printing plate – Cut shapes out of the craft foam and glue them to the foam board.

Add texture by drawing into the foam with a ballpoint pen. Allow the craft foam to dry before beginning to print.

RELIEF PRINTS – Marker and Craft Foam - Step Two

Step Two

Ink the printing plate using markers. Blend and mix colours.

RELIEF PRINTS – Marker and Craft Foam - Step Three

Step Three

Use a sponge to dampen a piece of paper.

RELIEF PRINTS – Marker and Craft Foam - Step Four

Step Four

Place the piece of paper on top of the printing plate. Press the paper into the plate.

RELIEF PRINTS – Marker and Craft Foam - Step Five

Step Five

Burnish it with a wooden spoon.

RELIEF PRINTS – Marker and Craft Foam - Step Six

Step Six

Pull the paper off. Compare your print to the printing plate. Notice where there is still ink on the plate and not enough ink on the print. This tells you that your paper may not have been damp enough, or you may not have burnished there enough.

RELIEF PRINTS – Marker and Craft Foam - Step Seven

Step Seven

Clean the printing plate with water and some paper towel. Now you’re ready to start again.

RELIEF PRINTS – Marker and Craft Foam - Step Eight

Step Eight

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:

  1. Create several relief prints;
  2. Experiment with a variety of ways to use colour;
  3. Explain their process; and
  4. Express opinions about the works.


  1. Have students apply what they have learned to create an edition of prints based on a theme.


  1. Create a sample.
  2. Place students in groups of about 6.
  3. Cover tables with newspaper and have paper towels on hand.
  4. Make sure you have a spot to hang or place the prints while they dry.


Printmaking 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. Relief prints are made by inking a raised surface and pressing that surface onto another surface such as paper. This craft foam technique may be used to make simple or complex prints.

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. 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 diffrent 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. It's for experimenting and trying out ideas to see what happens.
  5. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a at least 4 relief prints.
  2. Experiment with a variety of ways of adding colour.
  3. Demonstrate technical accomplishment.

The Process

  1. Demonstrate how to create a relief printing plate using craft foam.
  2. Show how you can draw into the craft foam with a ball point pen to make texture marks.
  3. Encourage students to experiment with a variety of ways of applying colour.
  4. Remind students to immediately hang their print to dry before starting another one.


  1. Display the completed prints.
  2. Ask students to find 3 things that interest them about how the work was made.
  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. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - PRINTMAKING_tracking.pdf)
  3. Have students reflect on their work using the self-assessment form. (Downloads - RELIEF_self-assessment.pdf)