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Lesson: Colorful House Collograph Prints

May 27, 2016 | By Annie Rogers

Did you know that you can make a printing plate using only cardstock? In the printmaking world, a “plate” is a piece of paper, metal, plastic, or rubber carrying an image to be reproduced. In this project, students will learn to make a Collograph, which is a print made from a low-relief collage. In simpler terms, students will use this lesson to make a plate by layering cardstock on itself to create a textured image, which they’ll then print using traditional printmaking tools.  -term definitions from and

Time Frame: 45 min+ drying time

Skill Level: age 4+


-To become familiar with the printmaking process including knowledge of printmaking tools and terms.

-To explore color theory through ink mixing.


  • Cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Optional: hole punch, decorative edge scissors
  • Pencil
  • Glue Stick
  • Scrap Paper
  • Plexiglass Sheets (2)
  • Blockprinting Ink
  • Brayers (2) (a brayer is a tool used to roll ink onto a surface by hand.)
  • White Drawing Paper or Block-printing Paper


  1. Begin by cutting out a large square or rectangle (or any geometric shape) to be the base of your house. This should be large enough to take up most of a piece of 9×12 cardstock.
  2. Next, cut a triangle (or similar shape) for the roof.Photo May 18, 10 48 28 AM (1)
  3. Glue the roof to the rectangle to create the main shape of the house.
  4. Use scissors to cut cardstock into shapes for windows, shingles, doors, shutters, chimneys, etc to create details on your house. Cut shapes that can layer on top of each other to create texture—use decorative edge scissors and/or hole punches. Glue these pieces on using glue stick.
  5. Once all pieces are glued on, you have made your collograph plate. Pick out 3 colors of ink. Two of the colors will be for the house itself and one color will be for the background. Apply a quarter sized glob of each of the first two inks side by side on one piece of plexiglass.
  6. Place the plate, face up, on top of a piece of scrap paper to protect the table. Roll the brayer through the two colors, rolling only in one direction in order to keep the colors separated. Roll until you hear the “kissing” sound.Photo May 18, 10 53 19 AM
  7. Then roll these colors (still rolling only in one direction) over the plate, re-inking your brayer as needed. Turn the plate 180° to keep the colors in line together.
  8. Place the paper for the final print on the table and lay the plate face side down on the paper. Press in to place.Photo May 18, 10 59 03 AM
  9. Squeeze the third color of ink onto a different piece of plexiglass. Roll the brayer through the ink—this time in all different directions—until you hear the “kissing” sound. Roll the inked brayer on top of the face-down portrait and all over the remaining paper.
  10. Carefully pull the plate away from the paper, revealing your print!Photo May 18, 11 01 18 AMPhoto May 18, 11 02 03 AM

Tweak It!

  • For a more durable plate (for multiple prints,) use scratch foam instead of cardstock.
  • Create a negative image of the collograph by drawing the same image into a piece of scratch foam (a subtractive form of printmaking). Use a brayer to ink and print this new plate. Display both images side-by-side.