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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Thursday, Friday 10 am - 4 pm
  • Saturday 10 am - 5 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

Accessibility Information

Visit the carle


Making Art Together

Printing with Stencils

we like to use this technique, and variations on it, to help students understand the offset printing process. Offset printing is how picture books, and many professionally printed paper materials, are created. Here's a rundown of the materials, process and variations you might try at home or in your class.

monotype printing with stencils materials


Construction paper or magazine pages for the stencils


Watercolor paper, cardstock, or heavy drawing paper to print onto

Red, blue and yellow tempera or poster paints (or magenta, cyan, yellow and black if you want to more closely replicate the offset printing process colors)

Brayers or small foam rollers from a craft or hardware store

3 plastic plates, or foam trays.  Anything non-absorbent with a bit of a rim works well.


Start by cutting shapes out of pieces of construction paper.

Both the negative and positive shapes can be used as stencils. Then, arrange or overlap your shapes on a larger piece of paper. 

arranging stencils

Prepare each of your paints in a separate paint tray.  Start with one or two spoonfuls of paint along the top of the tray.

Roll your brayer back and forth, in one tray to coat it evenly with paint.  Then roll the brayer slowly over your stencils. Cover the whole surface of the paper or just an area.

inking the brayer roller

rolling paint

Peel away the stencils to reveal the print you created.  While a brayer is not in use, rest its handle on the edge of the tray to help keep your hands clean.

peeling away the stencil

Overlap multiple colors or a variety of stencils to create a unique print with depth and contrast. Use a separate brayer when rolling out each color to avoid unintentional mixing. You might want to let your paper dry for a couple of minutes between each color.

final art

Explore Some More

What new shapes can you make when you overlap stencils?

What new colors can you make by overlapping colors?

Design a pattern by repeating the same stencils across the paper.

Try cutting a stencil in a new way– folding, cutting into the side, cutting out one shape to make another.

monotype printing with stencils

We love this exploration because it allows each artist to work with whatever shapes or images appeal to them. Each artwork created is unique and reflects the style of it's maker.

Have you tried an exploration like this yourself or with your young learners? Feel free to share your tips and variations!



We enjoy exploring materials and ideas in the Art Studio, and we’re excited to share our process with you! Please consider the following factors when adapting these posts for your learning environment: 

We facilitate a variety of programs within the Art Studio for a wide range of age groups. Please carefully consider the age appropriateness of each individual activity in your own learning environment.

Our projects are always done with adult supervision and proper safety precautions. Be sure all of your projects are overseen by adults who likewise follow proper safety precautions. The adults overseeing your project must also be responsible for handling or assisting with any potentially harmful equipment or materials. 

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is not responsible for any damages, injuries or liabilities that result from any activities contained within this website, and we expressly disclaim any responsibility or liability therefor. From time to time, we reference materials that we have found to be particularly important in our projects. We do not receive any monetary compensation for recommending materials. 



by Meghan Burch

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 18th, 2015 at 3:10 pm and is filed under Elementary School, Middle School, Painting, Paper, Printmaking. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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