Use Simple Materials to Make a Print with Tempera Paint

There are so many methods you can use with tempera paint. The possibilities are endless. Today I’d like to talk to you about my favorite tempera paint technique: using a cardboard collagraph and tempera paint to make a print.  If you’re familiar with traditional printmaking techniques, you know that it can be an expensive and time consuming process requiring special tools and materials. Depending on your budget, traditional printmaking projects maybe out of the question.

Using tempera paint for printmaking is inexpensive. Many of the materials you need can be found in your classroom. It doesn’t get much better than that!

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Here are the materials you need to make your collagraph:

  • Cardboard
  • Yarn
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Step 1:Draw an image on cardboard. Examples of images include sea creatures, animals, abstract designs, people, etc.

Step 2: Glue yarn to cardboard. Students glue yarn on top of the image, creating a collagraph.

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Step 3: Paint tempera paint on the yarn.

Step 4: Make a print.

VIOLA! You have an inexpensive and unique printmaking lesson.

Adaptations: For younger students, have them glue yarn onto a cardboard paper towel or toilet roll and paint yarn. Students roll the cardboard paper towel or toilet roll onto paper to make a print.


Want to add color to your print? Use crayons, colored pencils, markers, watercolor paints, or oil pastels to add color to the prints. (My favorite technique is having students paint the prints with watercolor and add lines, shapes and patterns with oil pastels on top.)

Have you ever used tempera for printmaking?

What are other creative collagraph ideas you have?

Cassidy Reinken

This article was written by former AOE writer and life-long learner, Cassidy Reinken.


  • I like this idea and have tried something similar. We took it one step further and pressed the design into a clay tile after several paper prints. Any extra tempera burns off in the kiln and you are left with a neat relief print.

  • I also really like this idea! Adding the “relief” step with clay would be great! One thing I have done is have the kids “wrap” their printing plate with foil and then gently press the foil with their fingers to get all the details from the string. Then, coat the foil with some india ink. Once dry, they can burnish it with a paper towel and it gives a great antiqued look to the metal plate.

  • I never even thought of using tempera paint for printmaking. What a good idea!

  • Becki

    Thank you! I knew I wanted to do a relief print by gluing yarn on cardboard, but I was stuck as to whether to use ink or paint or what! And how? Painting the tempera right on the yarn was too simple for me to even think of!

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  • Emily Lynham

    Every time I print with tempera paint, the paint acts as a glue and rips the paper. Any suggestions?