Introduction: Easy 3-D Silk-Screen Painting Technique for All Ages

About: Human, World Traveller, Artist, Historian, Homeschooler

When my son was in pre-school, I wanted to create artwork projects that would last the test of time and teach my son something in the process that was fun to make. At an art supply store, I found letters cut-out of wood, cardboard and cork. I used them to teach my son the alphabet, basic/positive words and how to read/write inspirational sayings. To preserve his learning, we did a basic silk-screen technique to paint to the canvas, swirled the letters in paint and adhered them to the surface, using the wet paint as the glue. Voila, time tested treasures that my son will have forever and also works as gifts for loved ones.

Years later, my son, niece and I recreated this project as an instructable.


1. Canvas (dimensions are determined by the size of letters used).
2. Selection of Craft Paints (colors are determined by what makes you happy).
3. Cut-Out Letters - made of wood, cardboard or cork (or you can cut the letters out of cardboard).
4. Straight Edge - larger than the width of your canvas (rulers and wooden paint stirs).
5. Ceramic Plate (used to swirl the paint, where you dip the letters).
6. Large Paint Brush or Sponge Brush (optional to apply paint a base coat).
7. Black Paint Marker (optional to outline letters for extra POP).
8. Drop Cloth or old Shower Curtain (perfect for a large work surface).

Step 1: Round-Up All the Supplies

Lay out your drop cloth, selected paints, canvas, brushes, cut-out letters, straight edges and plate. (My photo contains texture stamps that we did NOT use).

Step 2: Layout Out the Design

Do a dry layout. During this stage, my son, niece and I talked about layout and design. They played around with the letters, creating words and learning how to fill the space with interest. Once finished with the design, we took photos for reference and then removed all the cut-outs.

Step 3: Brush on a Basic Coat of Color

As an option, quickly brush a base coat of color. Don’t over think it, because you’re just going to cover it with more paint.

Step 4: Paint the Cut-Outs

Squirt paint on the ceramic plate and dip in the cut-outs one by one. We used a couple of shades of the same color or one color swirled with white to add interest. Place them off to the side to dry, while you finish the background.

Step 5: Drag Paint Across the Canvas

Squirt paint out along one edge of the canvas, then take a straight edge (a ruler or paint stick) and drag the paint across the canvas.

Step 6: Keep Building Up the Color

Squirt out a different color and drag it across the canvas. You are NOT trying to get a solid color, but a layering effect.

Step 7: More Layers of Paint

Finally after several drags of paint across the surface, we finally had a background that worked for us.

Step 8: Stick the Cut-Outs Onto the Wet Paint

With the thick layers of paint still wet, we put the letters back on the canvas using our photographs as a guide. The whole painting process is very quick, but during this stage we tried to work fast so the paint wouldn’t dry out, hence some blotches here and there. If the drips were too bad, I used some of the paint off the straight edge to repair boo-boos.

Step 9: Finished Result

After we finished and the paint had dried fully, we each used a paint marker to outline and better define each cutout. This is optional. On the original one we created years ago, We did NOT outline.

Step 10: Complete

Paint Challenge

Participated in the
Paint Challenge