Create an ocean-themed print inspired by the traditional Japanese method for printing fish. Let’s make a gyotaku print.


  • Light weight paper (newsprint or rice paper)
  • Watercolor paint
  • Paint brush and water
  • An object with lots of texture (a seashell, toy fish, toy dinosaur)

Video instructions

Watch our video or follow the steps below.


Step 1: Select an object for your print. The more texture the better!

Step 2: Check with a parent to make sure your object can get messy.

Step 3: Place your object on a paintable surface.

Step 4: Use watercolor paint to cover your object.

Note: Be sure to get paint on all the surfaces.

Step 5: Retrieve your lightweight paper and place on top of your object.

Step 6: Gently pat the paper following the groves of your object.

Don’t rub the paper as the paint will smear.

Step 7: Remove your paper and flip over.

You’ve made a gyotaku print just like Japanese fisherman.

Option 2

Don’t have a fish to paint? Try this.

Step 1: Make a shape out of interconnecting blocks. Be sure it’s okay to paint!

Step 2: Use watercolor to paint your block design.

Step 3: Cover your creation with paper.

Step 4: Pat to transfer the color.

Step 5: Remove the paper and see your print.

Finally, display your art!

This activity is from one of our exhibitions – Underwater FantaSEA – which took place in the spring of 2016.