Tortoise: Finger Printing


Today’s project is a simple one with lots of potential to use the techniques in other paint projects. Fingers will be used to apply paint by means of stamping and masking fluid will be applied in the same way to create patterns using cardboard instead of a paintbrush.


Refer to the Pinterest board for tortoise shape inspiration.

Create some drawings based on the patterns found on the tortoise shell. Have a practice run using the masking fluid to create areas within to apply the paint. A loo roll (toilet roll) has been used to create a small cardboard tube shape to transfer masking fluid onto the paper in round circles.

You can also use small sections of cardboard to print the edges of the tortoise. Keep the tortoise shell design shapes simple for starters. Once dry you can print watercolour with fingertips to explore the technique of applying paint by stamping.


Draw the pencil outlines of a tortoise on the watercolour sheet. This can be deleted later.

Create sections with the masking fluid, using a loo roll or cardboard sheet to create a small tube to print with. Use sections of straight cardboard to print the outline or decorative sections within the shell.

Once dry apply colour with fingertips. I used brown, red, blue and gray with some azo yellow added. You can do this process without the masking fluid as well, just by applying colour dots with you fingers in a pattern of your choice.

More detail can be added with a brush, I used a flat brush as printing tool similar to the dandelion project.

The purpose of this project is to explore layering of colour without using a paintbrush to apply the majority of the paint. Masking fluid is a useful tool to create subtle barriers and white contrast within watercolour and mixed media paintings on paper. The techniques in this project can be used in a variety of ways for paper-based art.

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour