Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Clearly, This Is Art

Making Silk-Screen Prints Using Transparencies

James Doyle, Shayna Pond | Published: March 30th, 2023 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject Visual Arts
  • Course Course Visual Arts


Students will use Wacom tablets to make monochrome images, burn them to transparency paper, and make some shirts and/or bags with them. Students also will watch ICAP interviews with a screen-printing business that prints its own materials and will then reflect on this as a career option.

Essential Question(s)

How does one design art for screen printing?



Students compare artworks and find the commonalities among them.


Students use the 30-Second Expert strategy to read and/or watch a video on silk-screen printing techniques and discuss what they have learned to negotiate a group understanding.


Students watch a video about silk-screen printing techniques and discuss the career of screen printing with a local gallery owner.


Students make screen-printed designs digitally and then turn them into screen-printed clothing.


Students reflect on their final product as well as this occupation and discuss whether they would be interested.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • 4-2-1 Graphic Organizer (attached)

  • Notecatcher (will be attached when ICAP video is ready)

  • Packages of transparency paper

  • Color printer 

  • Digital art software, such as Krita

  • Chromebooks or other internet-connected devices

  • Premade screens

  • Photo emulsion fluid and sensitizer

  • 250w BBA photobulbs

  • Ink for printing

  • Material to print on, such as a shirt, tote, etc.


20 Minute(s)

Use the attached Lesson Slides to guide the lesson. Display slide 1 and introduce students to the concept of the art analysis activity. Say the following: “We will view three separate works of art and try to find the commonality between them. The works are shown on slides with a 1-minute timer for each piece. During this time, ask students to take notes over all possible ideas on a piece of scrap paper.” Each of the art pieces selected is a screen print. Show slides 2-4 to display the artwork.

Display slide 5 and explain the 4-2-1 strategy. Students will start by (1) identifying their own with four possible commonalities, (2) adding a partner and narrowing the commonalities to two, and then finally (3) meeting with another pair and narrowing it down to one commonality. After they have done so, have them share with the class. It is unlikely that any of them will have identified that they are screen prints, but that is okay and can be revealed with the next few slides.

Display slides 6-8 and introduce the lesson title, learning objective, and essential question.


10 Minute(s)

Display slides 9 and 10 and introduce the 30-Second Expert strategy. After students make their T-charts, have them pair up. Provide one student with the link to the article from The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the other with the link to the “DIY: How to Burn a Silkscreen and Print at Home” video as shown on slide 11.

On the “What I know…” side, ask students to summarize the process of screen printing in a concise manner. On the “What I learned…” side, ask students to add any additional information that their partner has to say about the process that they omitted. After collecting their observations, have student pairs share their findings with the class.


20 Minute(s)

Display slide 12 and play the ICAP video. As students watch the video, have them use the provided “Clearly This is Art Notecatcher” handout to answer questions.

Display slide 13 and explain the Airplane Landing strategy. Use the strategy to select a few students for each question to share their answers with the class.

End Day 1 of instruction here.


140 Minute(s)

Display slide 14. Demonstrate coating the blank screen in emulsion fluid and storing it in a dark bag. Have students go through this process. 

Allow students the rest of the class period to create a design that will be printed on an article of clothing. Display slide 14 and remind students of the following rules:

  1. Students should use only the color black. Their print does not have to be black ink; however, designing with the color black will allow for better transparencies. 

  2. The thinner the lines of their design are, the more difficult it will be to transfer. “Fortune favors the bold.”

  3. Their design must fit on a 7.5” x 9” surface.

End Day 2 of instruction here.

On the next day of the design process, have students export their designs as transparent images and print them on 8.5” x 11” transparencies. 

Afterward, have them use the transparencies with the 250w bulbs to burn their designs into the screen.

  • Instruct students to tape the transparency to the screen, using painter’s tape to ensure there is even pressure on the screen.

  • Make sure the surface they set the screens on has a dark surface for the best exposure results.

  • After the correct amount of time for exposure (see Teacher’s Note below or your emulsion bottle for correct time amounts; it is usually about 8 minutes), have students wash the screen under water, lightly using a sponge if necessary to remove the emulsion from the “burned in” design.

  • Have them dry the screens by lightly dabbing them with a towel and then store them in a safe place.

End Day 3 of instruction here. 

On the start of Day 4, have students collect their screens and set them up on a table for printing. Display slide 16 with instructions for using their screen to print on the T-shirt. After printing, have students clean up their station and allow their shirts to dry.


20 Minute(s)

Display slide 17. Have students use their devices to record a short 1-minute video reflection on the question, “Could I do screen printing for a living?” Ask them to reflect on what they enjoyed about the process, what they disliked, and whether they think this is a career they would like to pursue. Have students share the videos with using your choice of platform (Google Drive, Canvas, etc.). Once they are done recording, display their printed shirts on the walls of the room and have students view one another’s work.