How to Make an Insect Print

by C Ibarra

Lesson plan by Teri Dexheimer Joyce Arts and Activities Volume 154, No.3 November 2013


  • Pencil
  • Paper ( 4.5 * 6 inches)
  • Styrofoam sheet (4.5 * 6 inches)
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Printing ink
  • Brayer
  • Ink tray
  • Oil pastels
  • Newspaper to protect the table
  • Instructions

    Step 1

    Choose an interesting insect and draw it on your 4.5" * 6" piece of paper. Try to make it as large as you can without going off the paper. Whatever you draw will be reversed in your print.

    Step 2

    Add in your line and shape details to make the print more interesting. Draw a line around your insect so that it is easier to cut.

    Step 3

    Now it is time to transfer your drawing onto the printing plate. You will need to place your drawing over the styrofoam sheet.

    Step 4

    Center your drawing over the styrofoam and tape it into place.

    Step 5

    Trace over your lines with a dull pencil. When you are done you will see the image pressed into the styrofoam.

    Step 6

    Now retrace your lines on the styrofoam so that they are smooth and clear. You can fill in shapes as well. In the print, the dark areas will be the color of your paper.

    Step 7

    Use scissors to cut along the outer line.

    Step 8

    Use a sharpie to write your name and class period on the back of the printing plate.

    Step 9

    For printing you will need an inking station that has newspaper, an inking tray, a brayer, and ink. When you add ink to the tray, only add a thin strip to the bottom edge.

    Step 10

    To prepare the ink, use the brayer and roll the ink away from you until it forms a thin spread. It should not be gloppy and will make a "sticky" sound.

    Step 11

    The brayer should be evenly coated with ink. If there are globs you can take the brayer back to the inking tray and pull it towards you.

    Step 12

    Ink your printing plate. Do this by rolling the brayer over the printing plate in one direction, away from you. Then give it a second, side to side coat. The plate should be evenly covered.

    Step 13

    Choose a 12" * 18" paper that will contrast with your ink color. Write your name and class period on the back.

    Step 14

    On a separate newspaper, place your bug face-down on your large sheet of paper.

    Step 15

    Flip the paper and the plate together on a clean newspaper so that you can see your name. Use your fist to evenly rub the area where the printing plate is.

    Step 16

    Remove the printing plate and see how your print came out. You may need to re-ink your printing plate.

    Step 17

    Repeat the process until you have several bugs in your page. When you are printing, consider what kind of background you want. This may help you decide where to print.

    Step 18

    You will need to let your prints dry overnight on the drying rack.

    Step 19

    The last step is to create a background using oil pastel. You can choose a non-objective design, or you can create an realistic setting for your bugs. Have fun with it!