WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! – Printmaking, Analogous Colours

Students paint several pieces of paper using analogous colours of watercolour paint and then make collagraph prints, inspired by an important experience in their lives, on the painted paper.

Required Time

180 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 6 to Grade 9


Language Arts
Visual Arts


analogous colours burnish collagraph contrast print printing plate printmaking shape


Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Acrylic Paint - 6 Count Crayola Watercolour Paints - 8 Count Crayola Variety Brush Set - 5 Count Crayola Scissors Tag Manilla Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Washable Glue Sticks Pencils Recycled Magazines Soft Paint Roller Plastic Trays Wooden Spoons Water Containers Paper Towels Recycled Newspapers

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WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! – Printmaking, Analogous Colours - Step One

Step One

  1. Make 4 thumbnail sketches.
  2. Choose the one you like the best.
  3. Make a plan drawing of your design.
  4. Use the plan drawing as a template.
  5. Place it on top of a piece of tag manilla.
  6. Cut out the overall shape of your drawing in one piece.
  7. Cut both pieces of paper at the same time.
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! – Printmaking, Analogous Colours - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Place the tag manilla cut-out of your main shape on your table.
  2. Use the plan drawing cut-out as a template.
  3. Place a section of it on top of a small piece of tag manilla and cut them both out at the same time.
  4. Glue the small piece to the main shape to create a different level. 
  5. Repeat this process until you are satisfied with the details.
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! – Printmaking, Analogous Colours - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Build up layers of shapes.
  2. Spaces between shapes will create lines in your print. 
  3. The finished collagraph is your printing plate.
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! – Printmaking, Analogous Colours - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Prepare a piece of watercolour paper.
  2. Wet the paper.
  3. Drop analogous colours of watercolour paint onto the wet paper.
  4. Choose colours that reflect how you feel about your experience.
  5. Set it aside to dry.
  6. Make several sheets of painted paper to use for your prints. 
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! – Printmaking, Analogous Colours - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Place the printing plate on an open magazine page.
  2. Pour some acrylic paint onto a plastic surface.
  3. Use a soft paint roller or brayer to roll paint over the collagraph.
  4. This is called inking the plate.
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! – Printmaking, Analogous Colours - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Gently lift the inked printing plate off the magazine page.
  2. Place it on top of the painted paper.
  3. Press it to the paper with the flat of your hand. 
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! – Printmaking, Analogous Colours - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Hold the printing plate in place and gently turn the paper over.
  2. Burnish it with a wooden spoon.
  3. Apply even pressure to transfer the paint to the paper.
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! – Printmaking, Analogous Colours - Step Eight

Step Eight

  1. Carefully pull the paper off the inked plate to see your print.
  2. Place it aside it to dry.
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! – Printmaking, Analogous Colours - Step Nine

Step Nine

  1. View your print with fresh eyes.
    - Does it express your feelings about your experience?
    - What do you see that makes you say that?
    - What do you like best about your prints? Why?

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create 4 collagraph prints;
  • create watercolour painted papers using analogous colours;
  • use shape and colour to communicate a personal experience;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  • explore the effects of different combinations of colour on the way the prints communicate their ideas;
  • work with another class to teach their peers how to make collagraph prints;
  • use their collagraph printing plates and fabric ink to explore printing on fabric, for example on a tee shirt.


  1. Download and display the Colour, and Shape posters available on this website.
  2. Prior to this lesson you may want to have students explore the Colour Wheel using the lesson plan available on this website.
  3. Prior to this lesson you may want to have students explore relief printmaking with found objects using the Exploring Lines lesson plan available on this website.
  4. Gather and make available books about collagraph printmaking, for example, Complete Collagraph: The Art and Technique of Printmaking from Collage Plates, by Clara Romano; Collagraphs and Mixed-Media Printmaking, by Brenda Hartill and Richard Clarke; and Print with Collage and Stitch: Techniques for Mixed-Media Printmaking, by Val Holmes.
  5. Create a sample collagraph.


  1. Ask students to close their eyes and to think about a time in their lives when they achieved a goal they had set for themselves.
  2. Encourage them to think about how they felt at the moment.
    - Get them to imagine the moment as if it was happening now.
    - Guide them to visualize where they are in the scenario and what they are doing.
    - Ask them to focus on the most important aspect of the scene.
    - That will be the subject of their print.
  3. Show students the print you have created.
    - Ask them to discuss what they notice about the print and to explain how they think it was made.
    - Talk about the shapes and the colours
  4. Show students the collagraph printing plate you used to make the prints.
    - Discuss how it was made.
    - Place it beside the print and notice that the images are reversed.
  5. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create 4 collagraph prints.
  2. Create watercolour painted papers using analogous colours.
  3. Use shape and colour to communicate a personal experience.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in 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:
    - carfeully constructed a collagraph printing plate
    - created 4 collagraph prints 
    - used shapes that contribute to the meaning of the image
    - created painted papers with analogous colours
    - created clean prints without smudges
    - created prints that reflect my experience
    - kept the paper in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Remind students that lines and patterns will be created by the spaces left between shapes and the differences in levels of paper.
  5. Observe students as they work.
  6. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Once all the prints are complete ask students to share them in partners or small groups. 
    Ask them to:
    Look closely at the prints and how they are made.
    - Share thoughts about the work.
    - Talk about how shape and colour contribute to the overall effectiveness of the image.
    - Discuss the use of analogous colours in the background.

    - Talk about what was difficult about making the print and why.
    - Tell what was satisfying about making the print and why.
  2. Ask some students to share their ideas with the whole class.
  3. Display the prints so students can view them as a body of work throughout the next few weeks.


  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 prints, 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 - CollagraphPrint_tracking.sheet.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download – CollagraphPrint_self-assessment.pdf)