My Alien Loves Underpants! A shape-printing project (October 2012)

Storybooks with fantastic illustrations are always a great source of inspiration for art projects, especially for my youngest Art Clubbers who are aged between three and four.

Aliens Love Underpants, written by Claire Freedman and illustrated by Ben Cort, is a hilarious, rhyming story all about aliens from outer space who fly down to earth in their spaceships to steal underpants!

They land in your back garden,
Though they haven’t been invited.
“Ooooooh, UNDERPANTS!” they chant,
And dance around, delighted.

They like them red, they like them green,
Or orange like satsumas.
But best of all they love the sight,
Of Granny’s spotted bloomers.

As well as being great fun to read out loud, the book is packed full of vibrant, colourful pictures of the aliens cavorting around a washing line of underpants.

The end-papers are illustrated with a multitude of brightly decorated underpants, from Y-fronts to bloomers, which gave me the idea for this shape-printing project.

We started the class by reading the story and talking about the different patterns decorating the underpants. I also asked the children what an alien looks like – and they decided that they are often green, and have more arms, legs and eyes than us.

I gave each child a sheet of black paper, to which I stuck an underpant-shaped paper template using a small piece of rolled up sticky tape – just to fix it temporarily while drawing and painting their alien.

Then the children used an oil pastel to draw their alien’s body sticking out from the top of the pants, and legs coming out of the pant-legs.

We mixed some green paint with a little white for added opacity (to ensure good coverage of the black paper). Using a paintbrush the children painted their aliens green all over.

While they dried, it was time to decorate some underpants! Each child chose underpants in two pairs of underpants of different colours that I had pre-cut from coloured paper. I demonstrated how to print shapes and patterns by dipping various objects into red, blue, yellow and white paint.

Cardboard tubes, wine corks and tiny polystyrene packing nuts make different-sized rings and circles, matchboxes are perfect for printing rectangles, and for triangles and squares I took my scissors to some cheap washing-up sponges.

By the time they had all decorated two pairs of pants, the alien paintings were dry.

I removed the temporary templates, and each child chose their favourite pair of printed pants to glue onto their alien.

To finish off, they added white circles of paper for eyes and used a cotton bud (Q-tip) to print little dots of white paint for the starry sky.

A last-minute sprinkle of glitter gave the stars extra twinkle and the whole picture a bit of extra pizazz!

Please click through the gallery to view more ‘pants-tastic’ images…


  1. […] Shape-printing is a great project for very young children, especially those who are not yet drawing confidently, because the technique produces such immediate results and bold imagery, particularly when working in monochrome. White or metallic paints look really effective contrasted against a black paper background. (For another shape-printing project please click here.) […]

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