Pink Ladybug


An ink pad. A marker with a fine point. Fingers.  A piece of paper.

That is all you need to make thumbprint art. It helps, if you need help with design ideas, to see what others have done. I recommend Ed Emberley’s landmark book: Ed Emberley’s Complete FunPrint Drawing Book. It shows you, step-by-step, how to start with a thumbprint, then add just a few lines to make creatures ranging from spiders to ladybugs, from turtles to caterpillars, from trains to clowns. He even shows you how, with just a few lines, to make a skier, a football player, or a basketball player.

The essence of the craft is to put your thumb on an inkpad, press the ink onto a piece of paper, then draw lines on the thumbprint to make a creature. A dot for an eye, a half circle for a mouth, a squiggly line top and bottom for fins and a double squiggle for a tail gives you a fish.

Two thumbprints overlapping at the bottom and slightly angled away from each other at the top gives you a valentine. A sideways thumbprint, with four curved legs on each side, two dots for eyes and a half circle for a mouth gives you a spider. Add a line at the top to connect him to a web. Experiment with happy, sad, laughing, and angry faces by changing the mouth, eyes, or eyebrows.

Once you get the hang of it, your grandchildren can illustrate stories with their thumbprint designs, make gifts, like picture frames, make gift tags, or notecards. This activity is just in time for those thank you notes we talked about in yesterday’s post. Buy a stack of stamped post cards and let your grandchildren illustrate them with thumbprint creatures, then take them home for the next time they want to write you a thank you note.

I love thumbprint art because, though I am not an artist, and can barely draw a straight line, even I could follow Emberley’s simple build-up of short lines to make incredibly cute thumbprint figures for postcards I still use.

This is a great activity to do with your grandchildren the next time they come visit. And, they will go home with post cards ready to write you thank you notes. What could be easier?!

To get you started, click here, where shows you some free thumbprint designs for greeting cards.

For more free examples, gives you directions for trees, clouds, rabbits and a fish bowl.

Here is an example of how one family illustrated their books with thumbprint art.

For two videos, the first stepping you through a couple of creatures, the second showing you how to create a picture frame for a gift, illustrated with thumbprint art, click on the links below:

For an innovative guest book at a wedding, an artist, and new husband, uses thumbprints for the Fingerprint Tree Guestbook, in the shape of a family tree. He made it first for his own wedding and has now made it available for any bride-to-be.

I especially recommend the Ed Emberley book for the ease with which he illustrates how to add simple lines to create cute creatures. Klutz, that reliable children’s activities publisher, adds glitter and sequins to their thumbprint creations. You may buy either book through by clicking on the titles below. Enjoy!

Ed Emberley’s Complete FunPrint Drawing Book

Fingerprint Fabulous: Create Sweet and Sparkly Thumbprint Art