Styrofoam Relief Prints


Age: 5 and up

This is a form of relief printing that makes use of readily available styrofoam meat and vegetable trays.


  • Paint or ink.
  • Styrofoam meat trays.
  • Scissors.
  • Pencils.
  • Paper.
  • Soft rubber brayers (printing rollers that can be found at art supply stores). You can substitute small paint rollers or even paint brushes if rollers aren’t readily available.
  • An old cookie tray or a piece of plexiglass to roll the ink out on.


1. First cut the edges off of the trays so that you have a flat surface to work on.

2. Next, Draw an Image onto the tray using a pencil. Remember, your printed image will appear in reverse!

3.  Place a small amount of ink or paint on plexiglass, cookie tray or glass sheet. Roll both ways to allow the roller to evenly pick up the ink. Roll until the ink comes up in little “points”.You can also use a paintbrush to cover the styrofoam with paint or ink instead, lay the paper overtop, press lightly and voila.

4.Once the roller is “inked”, roll onto the printing plate. You probably have to go through this process several times before enough ink is placed on the plate.

5.Once the printing plate or block is “inked”, place paper on top and using either your hand or a wooden spoon, rub lightly over the surface of the paper.

6. Remove paper and repeat process for more prints.

7. Repeat until you have an edition of prints.

One step further:

  • Instead of drawing into the styrofoam, you could press down areas you don’t want printed.
  • You could also cut out sections of the styrofoam, ink them up separately, pop the pieces back together and print.
  • Substitute corrugated cardboard for styrofoam.
  • Use a carpenter’s nail to scratch out designs on the cardboard.


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