OP ART PRINTS – Using Geometry to Fool the Eye

Students use a craft foam printing plate and tempera paint to create an edition of prints in a non-objective, Op Art style.

Required Time

180 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 5 to Grade 9


Language Arts
Visual Arts


artist proof brayer burnish edition printing plate printmaking relief print


Crayola Tempera Paint Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Scissors Foam Core Board - 10 cm x 12.7 cm (4" x 5") - 1 per student Self-Adhesive Craft Foam - 8 cm x 12 cm (3" x 4.5") - 1 per student Pencils Erasers Rulers Paint Rollers - Soft Plastic Trays Old Magazines

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OP ART PRINTS – Using Geometry to Fool the Eye - Step One

Step One

  1. Trace the shape of your craft foam on a piece of drawing paper.
  2. Use the instruction sheet to carefully measure and draw your op art design on this rectangle. (Downloads - GRID.pdf)
  3. Shade in the alternating pattern.
OP ART PRINTS – Using Geometry to Fool the Eye - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Use your plan drawing as a guide to transfer your design to the self-adhesive craft foam. 
OP ART PRINTS – Using Geometry to Fool the Eye - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Use your plan drawing as a guide to transfer your design to the foam core board.
OP ART PRINTS – Using Geometry to Fool the Eye - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Carefully cut out the shapes.
  2. Remove the paper backing and stick the shapes that are shaded in your plan drawing to the foam core board in the appropriate spots.
  3. This is your printing plate.
OP ART PRINTS – Using Geometry to Fool the Eye - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Place the printing plate on an open magazine.
  2. Pour some tempera paint into a plastic tray.
  3. Gently roll the soft roller into the paint.
  4. Roll the paint over the printing plate.
  5. This is called inking the plate.
OP ART PRINTS – Using Geometry to Fool the Eye - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Gently lift the inked plate off the magazine page which probably has paint on it.
  2. Turn the magazine page and place the inked plate face up on the clean magazine page.
  3. Place a piece of paper on top of the inked plate.
  4. Rub a wooden spoon over the paper to transfer the paint to the paper in a smooth way.
  5. This is called burnishing.
OP ART PRINTS – Using Geometry to Fool the Eye - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Carefully pull the paper off the printing plate to see your print.
  2. This is called pulling the print. 
  3. Place the print in a safe place to dry.
OP ART PRINTS – Using Geometry to Fool the Eye - Step Eight

Step Eight

  1. Make an edition of 4 good prints.
  2. Number and sign them. 
  3. An edition of 4 prints is numbered  1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4.
    - The first number shows the order the print was made - first, second etc.
    - The second number shows the number of prints in the whole edition.
  4. Signing and numbering are done in pencil at the bottom of the print.
    - Usually the number is written in the lower left corner.
    - The title of the print goes in the middle.
    - The artist’s name in the right corner. 
  5. Mount your prints on construction paper for display.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create an edition of 4 relief prints;
  • create a non-objective Op Art design;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  • research information about an important Op artist such as Claude Tousignant, Victor Vasarely or Bridget Riley;
  • experiment with ways to create a Op Art design based on their research and using different media such as coloured pencils, tempera paint, watercolour pencils or markers;
  • share their work with the class;
  • compare the works of the artists and their contributions to modern art.


  1. Prior to this lesson provide time for students to explore optical illusions using the available worksheets. (Downloads – STAR.pdf, Bulge.pdf, TUNNEL.pdf, GRID.pdf)
  2. Download images of Op Art from the Internet, for example,
  3. Collect newspapers and magazines for the printing area.
  4. Make sure you have a drying area for the prints.
  5. Create a sample.


  1. View and discuss the OP Art images and make a list of characteristics of the art, for example,
    - although the works are flat they fool the eye into thinking they are 3-dimensional, or actually moving
    - a mathematical form of art based on geometry
    - non-objective
    - uses contrasting colour, line and shape to create a sense of movement
    - uses perspective 
    - positive and negative spaces are equally important
  2. Compare the student designs with the artworks.
    - How are they the same?
    - How are they different?
  3. Explain the printing process.
  4. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create an edition of 4 relief prints.
  2. Create a non-objective, Op Art design.
  3. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  4. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - measured spaces carefully 
    - created an optical illusion
    - used contrasting colours to create the illusion of depth
    - made the positive and negative shapes equally important
    - created 4 identical prints in my edition
    - numbered and signed the prints in pencil
    - numbered the prints accurately 
    - kept the paper is in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Encourage students to make several proofs before beginning their edition.
  5. Observe students as they work. 
  6. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Once editions of prints are complete display them for a group discussion. Remind students of the challenge.
  2. Look closely at the prints.
  3. Share thoughts about the work.
  4. During the discussion include references to: 
     design - effects of the use of colour, shape, positive and negative space
    -  technical accomplishment - how condition of paper, cleanliness of paper, signature and numbering, and attention to detail contribute to technical accomplishment
  5. Ask students what they found satisfying about doing this project and why.
  6. Ask them what was difficult about doing this project and why.


  1. Observe students as they work  – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss the artworks – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - OP_art_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - OP_ART_self-assessment.pdf)