Digital Handmade Print Project

10 lessons

Creative Play

This is where is gets fun …

Lesson menu


  • Your gathered stimuli
  • Space to collate stimuli (wall, display boards, software)
  • Bluetack if using a wall, pins if using a pinboard
  • Other - as relevant to your selected media/techniques

Lesson Content

After casting the net wide to hunt and gather as much stimuli as you can, you now get to do something with it. This is my favourite part - possibly because I love to collect things - it’s where you get everything together and begin to order it.

There are a few ways to do this - if you’re a digital human you may be more comfortable to do this digitally - or if you’re like me you’ll want to physically engage with the work and create a brainstorm on a wall space. Either way is fine, the most important thing is that you are ‘stepping back’ and start looking at your stimuli as a collective body or family rather than a series of individual images. 

You are looking for the relationships and stories that occur between the images when viewed as a ‘collection’.

There is no right way of doing this, in fact, the less you use your rational thinking the better. You need to let your visual, emotional and lateral thinking do the heavy lifting here.


  1. 1

    Get it together - what did you get?

    Get all that you have collected out, and if you can lay it all out in front of you. If you are working physically we suggest a large table or a clean floor, preferably near the walls that you are about to stick your images onto.

    Having everything in front of you helps because you can see it in one go, meaning you remove some of the cognitive load ‘remembering’ what you have collected and you can use that brain power on making connections instead.

    Get it together - what did you get?

    Some of Anjuli's collected stimuli

  2. 2

    Observe and recognise - what does it all say?

    So ... what do your images tell you? What connections can you see? Remember what drew you to the images in the first place. Was it technique? Colour? Pattern?

    Look at your own works that you have gathered - how do they relate to everything else?

    Observe and recognise - what does it all say?

    The start of the Project Make 'wall of doom'

  3. 3

    Connecting the dots - ordering your stimuli

    Begin to order the images so that they are next to other images they relate to. It’s hard to explain this step because there is no correct way of doing this.

    Basically, you are moving everything around until it ‘feels’ right to you. You are looking for unexpected connections and relationships between images - to create something that is interesting to you.

    Sometimes doing this process directly onto the wall or into a digital document helps the ordering process. I tend to start with whatever images I am most interested in.

    Connecting the dots - ordering your stimuli

    Part of Demelza's wall for this project

  4. 4

    Install your stimuli in space - get it up

    This is either on a wall or in digital space. Some people even use folding boards (display boards) if they want to work physically but don’t have the wall space. Some people do this process slowly and others work quickly and instinctively. The more you work like this and the more developed your visual language becomes the faster you get. 

    Install your stimuli in space - get it up

    Sometimes we do it instinctively in our work spaces

  5. 5

    Stand back and observe - what are you going to explore?

    Step back and look at your stimuli as a ‘whole’. It’s best to literally leave the room or close your laptop lid and go and do something like get a glass of water before coming back to do this. The process of leaving and coming back helps to ‘refresh’ your eyes and mind. 

    Now … what do you see? It’s helpful to have a notebook with you to scribble down what you notice and where you might go next.

    You’re not looking for an ‘idea’ - you are establishing an overall concept (which may at this stage be an element or principle of design) and deciding which hand made techniques to experiment with. 

    Stand back and observe - what are you going to explore?

    Observing colour, shape and opacity

  6. 6

    Experiment - playing techniques and media

    This phase involves getting your hands dirty - for a good time not a long time. So you should pick a few media (like markers) and/or techniques (like screen printing) that you want to use. Access to the materials may help make this decision for you.

    This is not about creating beautiful artwork - it’s about having a go and deciding if it’s worth pursuing.

    It’s important to have a play before you commit to an idea that you may not be able to make. Locate some books/tutorials to help you get the basics of the media/techniques you are about to experiment with. Your experiments should help you learn the limits of what you’re using - don’t get caught up in the imagery. 

    Experiment - playing techniques and media

    Nathan decides to build a typeface out of flour - yip - literal baker's flour

Experiment with things like:

  • Colour scales and opacity
  • Shape and form (3D and 3D shapes)
  • Line and texture
  • Accidents (doing things maybe you shouldn’t, like - what happens when I ... )
  • Paper stock and colour
  • Canvas - working directly onto unusual materials

Gouache with Mary Sanche

Goucache with Myriam Tillson

Gouache with Sandra Ruberto

Japanese Marbling with Apartment Therapy

Copic Marker Rendering with Scott Robertson

Lino Cutting with The Virtual Instructor

Tips & tricks

  • Don’t over think the ordering process - there isn’t a single story or connection - and that every person will see/make different connections
  • Re-order if it isn’t working - you will know if it isn’t feeling right - don’t worry - just move some things around.
  • Go wild with your experiments - they could end up sending you off on a completely new direction - embrace this!

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