Art Trading Cards are miniature works of art, made on a card the size the a typical trading card. Here is a collection of what works when making ATCs with kids.
Black Sharpie marker
Liquid watercolor paint
Old phone book papers
PREP: Cut watercolor paper into 2.5″ x 3.5″ cards.
WATERCOLOR PAINTING: Draw image with marker and fill with watercolor paint.
WATERCOLOR BLEED: Paint part of a rainbow and let colors bleed.
WATERCOLOR + LEMON JUICE: Paint background, add drops of lemon juice. Let dry, dab.
WATERCOLOR RESIST: Draw with a crayon and cover with watercolor paint.
WATERCOLOR + SALT: Paint with watercolor and sprinkle with salt. Rub off when dry.
WATERCOLOR COLLAGE: Paint old phone books, let dry, and cut into a collage.
MARKERS + STENCILS: Use a marker to fill lots of lines inside a stencil.
Crazy Watercolor ATCs
Lemon juice dropped on a watercolor art trading cards will make some pretty cool shapes if left to sit for a few minutes.
Give it a few minutes to soak, dab away with a tissue, and some crazy shapes are left as a result.
Watercolor paper, cut to 2.5″ x 3.5″ ATC size
Dr. Ph. Martin’s paint
Lemon juice (bottled is fine)
Trading card sleeves
Black pen or thin black marker
PREP: Cut watercolor paper to the standard ATC size: 3.5″ x 2.5″.
1. Paint with liquid watercolor paint, overlapping areas so that they bleed together. NOTE: I used Dr. Ph. Martin’s paint to get the intense colors. If possible, use full strength paint to get maximum color. Let dry, or make many cards so to give the first ones time to dry.
2. Use a brush or eyedropper to place small dots of lemon juice on cards. Let sit for a couple of minutes before dabbing with a tissue. The citric acid will “bleach” out the color below it.
3. Use a black ball point pen or marker to trace the shapes that are created and turn them into whatever creatures come to mind.
“Things that are Orange” ATCs
- PREP: Cut nine cards for each student, 2.5″ x 3.5″.
- Students draw things on their cards that are orange. I shared some orange Washi tape from Michaels in polka dot and striped patterns for extra inspiration.
- They trace the edges with a thin black marker.
- The shapes are colored in with pencil crayons.
Black and White Sticker Cards
- Students take scissors to a variety of stickers to come up with some kind of image.
- The goal is to make nine different cards, all with different “things” made with just white shapes.
- The cards are placed in a trading card sleeve.
Mini School Paper ATCs
1. Lots of drawing projects are possible, this one starts as a challenge to draw an illustrated alphabet. It begins with pencil drawing, then thin black maker tracing, and colored with pencil crayons.
2. The completed drawings can go into a collector’s sleeve. Finished sleeves may go into a 3 ring binder – my kids love watching their binder grow each week.
Kandinsky was one of the first creators of pure abstraction in modern painting. Students can have fun imitating his color style, and for a change, hope their colors “run” into each other a bit.
Finish the Photo
To shortcut the magazine process, I’ve found these free images online and have created a blank template for those without access to make their own.
- Download ATC Line Art Template
- Printed ATC Line Art template for each student
- White card stock paper
- Black marker, ultra fine tip
- Plastic Trading card sleeves or Penny sleeves
- Paper cutter, xacto or good scissors
- Print out a sheet for each student, preferably on card stock or good drawing paper.
- Challenge students to create a detailed world in each. Pencil is good to start, then trace with pen.
- I use a paper cutter to cut the cards out after students are done. It’s easier to draw on the larger format.
- Slide all the cards in a trading card sleeve, which you can find online or even at Staples.
Hexagon to Cubes ATC Cards
- Cardstock paper for making a stencil
- Hexagon punch, 2″ size
- Watercolor paper
- Paper cutter
- Liquid watercolor paint
- Black Sharpie marker
- Plastic trading card sleeve
PREP: Make a 2″ hexagon stencil for each student, on 2 1/8″ x 5″ cardstock paper. Cut watercolor paper to 2.5″ x 3.5″ cards, nine for each student.
1. Students draw a hexagon in the middle of a watercolor card. A “Y” shape is drawn inside the hexagon to make the cube. The lines are traced with a permanent marker.
2. To make the cubes look like they have shadows, layers of watercolor are applied. Mine have one layer on the top, two layers on the right side, and three layers on the left. Some colors show more difference than others, but it is still a good method for making subtle shadows with watercolor.
Weaving ATC Cards
MATERIALS • Card stock paper • Paper cutter • Scissors • Trading card sleeves
PREP: Cut lots of cardstock cards to measure 2.5″ x 3.5″ and lots of thin strips that are 2.5″ wide and varying widths.
- Students fold the cards in half to measure 2.5″ x 1.75″. Using a scissors, they cut four slits on the fold, and open the card up again.
- Students weave the thin strips into their cards horizontally, hopefully getting at least 3 in each card. Those that want to add a little extra flair may add very thin strips on top of fatter ones, as shown with the yellow and orange in the top right card.
- Keep all the cards in trading card sleeves that you can find at Staples or on Amazon.
My Art Trading Card students practiced their geometric shapes by drawing a series of jewels.
- Watercolor paper
- Paper cutter (helpful for cutting the 2.5″ x 3.5″ size cards)
- Black Sharpie marker, fine tip
- Liquid watercolor
- Trading card sleeves
Prep: I diagrammed on the board how to draw each jewel first, mostly starting with the inside shapes and then working out. I keep seeing that most students handle drawing straight lines much more easily than curved ones, so this worked well for kinder through 4th grade.
- Students drew their jewels in pencil.
- The lines were traced with the permanent black marker.
- The jewels were painted with watercolor.
- When dry, the cards were placed in a trading card sleeve. Students needed to make 9 cards to fill their page.