These pet portraits use a simple printmaking technique to produce simple but realistic black and white print of your pet, or any subject you choose! Add bright color with a washable markers or crayons for a pop art look!
Choosing a photo of your pet for your pet portrait…
For these pet portraits you’ll want to start with a photo of your pet that has clear and easy to see details. It can be a head shot or include the whole body. It’s up to you. In fact this printmaking method works for subject matter far beyond just pet portraits. Experiment with people, landscapes, architecture- anything you like.
It makes no difference if the photo is color or black and white. So if you’re printing out a photo on your home computer feel free to print in black and white to save a few pennies. The size of the photo will be the size of your finished print so be aware of that as you’re choosing/ printing your inspiration photo.
If you don’t have a great photo to use take a few minutes and have a mini photo shoot with your pet. Or head to a site like Unsplash that houses lots of photos that are free to use. Browse, choose one, and download to your computer.
You’ll be using a polypropylene page protector for the printmaking process. These can be wiped clean and used over and over. When the printmaking is done there’s no reason to throw them away. Wipe clean and keep using as a page protector!
You’ll also need a washable black marker, plain white paper, and colored markers or crayons for adding color!
Beginning your pet portrait…
Slide your pet photo into the polypropylene page protector. If your photo is smaller than the page protector it may be a good idea to add a bit of tape to keep it in place.
Trace the contours in the pet photo using a black washable marker. Look for edges to follow and anywhere the value changes. Encourage students to work from the center of the photograph out. This printmaking process works because the washable marker isn’t absorbed by the page protector. For this same reason, the marker is easily smeared by little hands. Working from the center out will help that.
Transferring the print….
To create the actual print you’ll want your completed drawing on the page protector, a white piece of copy weight paper, and a damp paper towel. Wipe the damp towel across the white paper and press onto the animal drawing. Use the pads of fingers to smooth down the paper and make sure it makes contact with the drawing.
Peel off and set aside to dry.
Printmaking is not a perfect process. These prints will have areas that are more fuzzy or imperfect or not showing. That’s what makes them interesting. Encourage your kids to make more than one print, whether of the same pet photo or trying different photos.
Different amounts of moisture on the paper produce different effects. Try drawing thicker or thinner lines for variety.
Adding color to your pet portrait…
After your prints are dry add some color any way you choose. We used washable markers for a super bright, pop art like effect. It can be fun to combine the same image over and over with each image in a different color scheme.
If you prefer a more natural color scheme sub in colored pencils or crayons for the markers.
More printmaking fun….
I adore the printmaking process because it is so varied. I could teach a year’s worth of art class, every lesson printmaking, and never get bored. Because every printmaking process is just SO different and the results are SO different. Here are a few of my favorite KItchen Table Classroom printmaking projects!
Make amazingly detailed leaf prints with watercolor paints.
Make your own custom t-shirts with this crayon printing project.
Play with the monoprinting process with these easy foil prints.
Use junk from around the house to create art with this found art printmaking idea!