Cardboard Collagraphs

Cardboard Collagraphs

Think beyond the box! Save those mailed-in cardboard boxes as materials to experiment and create unique artworks. This tutorial shows the easy and fun process of collagraph printing with a two-dimensional relief collage.


  • Cardboard Pieces
  • Craft Glue
  • Scissors
  • Paper Plate 
  • Acrylic Paint or Block Printing Ink
  • Paintbrush or Printing Brayer
  • Heavy Weight Paper

Step 1: Brainstorm ideas for a collage. It can be abstract, or the likeness of a landscape, or silhouettes of objects.

Step 2: Begin your collagraph by finding a square or rectangular piece of cardboard that is slightly smaller than the paper you plan to print on to use as your printing plate.

Step 3: Gather cardboard pieces and cut out desired shapes with scissors, small enough to fit on your printing plate.

Step 4: Place the cut shapes on the printing plate to compose the design. Once satisfied with the design, glue each piece in place and allow them to dry. 

Step 5: Grab the desired acrylic paint or printing ink and use a paintbrush or printing brayer to apply it to the cardboard, covering each glued piece of the design. 

Step 6: Once the paint or ink is applied, take the heavy-weight paper and line it up with the plate. Firmly press and rub the back of the paper over the design to transfer the ink onto the paper. 

Step 7: Gently peel the paper off the plate and allow it to dry. 

Ideas to take your cardboard collagraph to the next level:

  • Experiment with the thickness of the collage pieces. The differences in height can add or subtract details. 
  • Experiment with texture! Use other materials such as buttons, paper clips, pipe cleaners, feathers, etc. 
  • Extend the project by printing on different materials such as wood or metals!

Learning and Discussion Questions:

1. Val McCann is a printmaking artist fascinated by the printed image and the many possibilities printmaking offers to create and reproduce an image. Check out her website for more information on the collagraph technique and to see examples of her work. 

2. Are you curious about the history of printmaking in Europe? Click this link to learn more about the history of printmaking in Europe. 

Thank you to our sponsor, PNC Arts Alive!, for helping to make this video possible!

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