Sandpaper Printed DINOSAURS!

blog-2018-10-30-12.00.31.jpgDinosaur projects are always a hit with young children!

This art project uses an exciting printmaking technique where the combination of sandpaper and oil pastels creates a bumpy surface texture that is just perfect for recreating  the scaly skin of a dinosaur.

For a previous project, Dinosaurs in Detail: Inspired by Dürer (November 2011), I gave the children plastic dinosaur models as the subject matter for an observational drawing activity.

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I was so impressed with the highly detailed drawings produced by those young kindergarteners (aged 4 to 6), that I decided to repeat the idea with my new kindergarten group, this time giving them simple ‘Dinosaur Sketchbooks’ in which they could sketch their favourite Jurassic creatures.   

blog 2017-11-15 18.08.12At the end of the drawing session, every child picked out their favourite drawing from their sketchbook. I enlarged the selected drawings using the photocopier and at the next session the children transferred the outline of their dinosaur onto a sheet of fine-grade sandpaper before cutting it out carefully.

The next task was to colour the rough side of their sandpaper dinosaur shape with oil pastels, making sure to apply the colours as thickly and evenly as possible, right up to the edge of the sandpaper.

The sandpaper dinosaur shape was then laid face down on a sheet of black paper, and a sheet of scrap paper laid over the top, before pressing it with a hot iron.  

The heat of the iron melted the oil pastels and transferred the colours and texture onto the black paper surface. The children were amazed when they peeled back the sandpaper to reveal a colourful dinosaur printed on the paper! Not only that, but the surface felt just like you’d imagine a dinosaur’s skin to be!

Goggly eyes were added as a finishing touch, really bringing the dinosaurs to life!

This project was so much fun that I repeated it again recently with a group of older, elementary (primary) school children, aged between six and ten. They enjoyed it just as much as the younger group.

This project really demonstrates the magic of printmaking – that moment when the paper is peeled away from the printing plate (in this case, sandpaper) to reveal a unique image impressed upon the surface. Wonderful!


  1. Brilliant idea! They look so cool and that “surprise reveal” you get with printing is a lot of fun (for all ages!)

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