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


Foam Core Board 10 cm x 12.7 cm (4" x 5") Self Adhesive Craft Foam 8 cm x 12 cm (3" x 4.5") Drawing Paper Pencils Scissors Rulers Soft Roller Plastic Tray Crayola Tempera Paint Erasers Magazines

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

Step One

Trace the shape of your craft foam on a piece of drawing paper. Carefully measure and draw your op art design inside this rectangle. Shade in the alternating pattern.

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

Step Two

Use your plan drawing as a guide to transfer your design to the front of the piece of self-adhesive craft foam.

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

Step Three

Use your plan drawing as a guide to transfer the design to a piece of foam core board that is the same size as the craft foam.


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

Step Four

Carefully cut out the shapes. Remove the paper backing and stick the shapes that are shaded in your plan drawing to the foam core board in the appropriate spots. This is your printing plate.


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

Step Five

Place the printing plate on an open magazine. Pour some tempera paint into a plastic tray. Gently roll the soft roller into the paint. Roll the paint over the printing plate. This is called inking the plate.


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

Step Six

Gently lift the inked plate off the magazine page which probably has paint on it. Turn the magazine page and place the inked plate face up on the clean magazine page. Place a piece of paper on top of the inked plate. Rub a wooden spoon over the paper to transfer the paint to the paper in a smooth way. This is called burnishing the print.


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

Step Seven

Carefully pull the paper off the printing plate to see your print. This is called pulling the print. Place the print in a safe place to dry.


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

Step Eight

Make an edition of 4 good prints. Number and sign them. An edition of 4 prints is numbered  1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4. Signing and numbering is 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 and the artist’s name in the right corner. Mount your prints on construction paper for display.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

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


  1. Have students experiment with ways to create other Op Art designs using different media such as coloured pencils, tempera paint, watercolour pencils, markers.
  2. Have students research and present information about an important Op artist such as Claude Tousignant, Victor Vasarely or Bridget Riley. After the presentations invite students to compare the works of the artists and their contributions to modern art.


  1. ​Create a sample.
  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.


  1. Display the OP Art images.
  2. Discuss the works 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
  3. Demonstrate some basic techniques for developing Op Art designs. (Download – STAR.pdf, BULGE.pdf, TUNNEL.pdf, GRID.pdf)
  4. Provide time for your students to play with design ideas in their sketchbooks or on paper.
  5. Explain the printing process.
  6. Introduce the challenge.



The Challenge

  1. Create an edition of 4 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. Show your sample to give students an idea of what the finished printing plate might look like. 
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Encourage students to think of how they can use colour to get the best effect.
  5. Encourage students to make several proofs before beginning their edition.
  6. Observe students as they work. 
  7. 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 art works – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download - OP_art_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download - OP_ART_self-assessment.pdf)