Lesson #4: Making a Print

Part of the unit: Creating an Animal Print |


How can you improve the quality of your prints?
Students will be able to:
Ink their foam plates and pull a print
Interpret the results to see how to improve the quality of the print.
Students will understand that:
Artists reflect on the process of making art.
Water-based printing ink (light tints), smooth slabs or styrofoam trays to charge brayers on, 12 x 18 paper (dark colors: black, brown, deep green or blue), Students' foam plates, 4" soft rubber brayers, newspapers, markers.
Look again at the test prints pulled at the end of lesson #1.
  • What steps did we take to make these prints?
Demonstrate how to ensure proper registration and how to pull a print. Squeeze out a strip of ink onto a plexiglass slab or styrofoam tray and press the brayer into the ink. Roll the brayer in one direction, lift it, and repeat this action until the brayer is completely "charged" with ink. Using a similar technique (roll, lift, roll, lift), roll the brayer over one student's foam plate until it is uniformly coverd with ink. Lay the plate down ink side UP on registration marks, and lay the paper over the plate and rub it with a metal spoon, or other suitable implement. Gently peel the paper off the foam plate. Discuss the results with the students.
  • Did this print come out the way you thought it would?
  • How is this print different from the drawing? The image is reversed.
  • How could we improve it? What do you think we should do differently?
Discuss overinking and underinking and demonstrate the process a second time, making sure to make the changes suggested by the class.  
Each student's table should be covered with newspaper and have a styrofoam tray for inking, a supply of ink, a brayer, and printing paper. Registration marks should be drawn on the newspaper indicating where the plate should sit and where the paper should be layed (see tips and techniques). A separate table should be covered with newspaper and designated as a place where everyone's wet prints can be laid out to dry. Students will work at their tables to ink their plates, apply sheets of paper and "pull" their prints. Wet prints should be placed on the drying table. If time allows, students can make two or more prints so they can compare them.
Select several prints to show the class. Ask them to focus on the quality of the print and not on the image at this time.
  • Why do you think some of the artist's lines are clear and others are not?
  • How does the pressure you use when rubbing the back of your print make a difference?
  • Tomorrow we will print with dark ink on light paper. How do you think this will effect the way the prints look?
Students can use the internet to research printmaking history and techniques. Each student should find three images, each one made using a different printmaking method (etching, drypoint, engraving,lithography, or photo silkscreening).