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Silkscreen Printing Unit Lesson 6: Cutting Stencils for a Multilayer Print

This silkscreen print depicts a middle aged African American woman standing in front of a brick fireplace. The woman is centered in the foreground. Her black hair is pulled up in a bun on the top of her head, her expression is neutral and she is wearing a long sleeved silky blouse that is buttoned at the neck. She is printed in black and white while the fireplace behind her is printed in light purple and dark purple. On top of the fireplace sits an abstract painting printed in whites, greys and yellow ochre. The walls are a medium grey.

Alisha Wormsley, Untitled, 2017
Silkscreen print on paper

Students learn the process for cutting stencils in order to create different color combinations and compositions for their photographic silkscreen print series.


  • Students identify, describe, and discuss key aspects of Andy Warhol’s life and art.
  • Students identify and discuss the design elements, color and shape.
  • Students apply their knowledge of shape and color theory to create a work of art.
  • Students apply stencil and photographic silkscreen processes to create a work of art.



  1. Review the Cutting Stencils for Multilayer Prints Powerpoint as a class.
  2. Each student needs three pieces of paper or Duralar cut to the size of the inside dimensions of their silkscreen. Students will be making three stencils, one for each of the three layers of color in their print. The fourth and final layer of color will be the photographic image that students exposed on their screen in lesson three.
  3. Using their film positives, have students place one piece of paper or Duralar over their film positive on a light table .
  4. The first stencil is layer one – students should decide the color they are going to print first and then trace only the shape(s) associated with that color. Students should mark their stencils with the layer number and color, for example “Layer one – gray”.
  5. Carefully cut out the shape(s) using a cutting tool.
  6. Continuing to use their film positives, students will trace the shape(s) for layer two and layer three in the center of another piece of paper. Cut out these shapes, as well.

Note: If your students are printing more than one color combination, have them cut extra paper stencils for each layer because the stencils are discarded after printing each layer or cut stencils from Duralar, since those may be used multiple times.


After students have finished cutting out their three stencils they can prepare for printing in the next lesson by mixing their three ink colors:

  • Mix ink in re-sealable containers.
  • Label ink with student’s name and layer number.


The following assessments can be used for this lesson using the downloadable assessment rubric.

  • Aesthetics 1
  • Creative process 4
  • Creative process 5