Paint Printing: Finger Painting Part 4

Most preschool art books mention some form of paint stamping: paint a leaf or an apple half, and press it down on paper to create a shape.

Then there are stamp and ink pad sets, and thumbprint bunny rabbits.

But what if you don't feel like cutting up apples and ruining them with purple paint?

What if you wanted to create a design with paint and copy it instantly?

I tried that idea out recently, and as a result, here is my version of a preschool-and-toddler-friendly printing press.

You will need:


  • Finger paints
  • A sheet of glossy paper or cardboard
  • White paper


First help your child create a picture on the glossy paper. Keep is simply and chunky. The printing-process will smudge the paint a bit, so small details won't transfer well. (I chose to paint a speckled monster that looks oddly like an upright crocodile. The main 'small' detail in my design was a white daub of paint for its eye.)

the monster


Once your picture is ready, spread a sheet of white paper over the design, pressing down lightly. Be careful not to slide the paper around on the paint, or the design might get smudged.

Then lift the paper, peeling it back slowly, so it doesn't slide around or smudge.

a speckled monster and its twin

Now there are two speckled monsters!

Notice that there are some white patches on my monster's leg. Apparently, I didn't press the paper down in that area? The monster's arm and tail also grew a bit wider, which is why chunkier images work better for this sort of printing.

Pictures that might work well: a daisy, a tree, a house, or even a piece of fruit!

Since this project creates a second, mirror picture, it might be fun to do it with a friend, and then trade your prints, so that each child has one of each picture.

Bonus project:

This post will wrap up my preschool art series, at least for now. I'll be focusing more on nature activities over the summer and fall--but since you have the paints out already, why not experiment with some paint textures while you're at it?

I know some kids don't actually like to get their hands messy with paints. If that describes your child (or even if it doesn't), it might be fun to try out other tools than just paint brushes. Ideas:

  • Paper towel
  • Sponge
  • A strip of cardboard
  • A spoon or spatula
  • A butter knife or paint trowel
  • A small wad of foil
  • Miniature bubble-wrap
In reality, you can use anything you are willing to get paint on. As long as you are using finger paints or another water-based paint, the paints should wash off when you are done.

paint tools and textures

You can use one tool for an entire picture, or combine several to create patterns, such as spongy trees and knife-streak grass.

See if you can come up with a picture using only one color! (Or paint with one color, and then paint a second color over it to create something new!)

See also:


What is your favorite painting tool?

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