Repousse Illustration

Lesson Plan, Grades 9-12, Art, History, Science, Sharpie, Drawing, Mixed Media


Lesson Plan and Artwork by Phyllis M. Annett

Prior to the invention of photography, botanical illustration was the only way of visually recording the world’s many species of plant life. Observe the botanical illustrations of Alice R. Tangerini in order to study the art of line drawing and its clarity. Students will draw a live plant and transfer the drawing to black coated aluminum foil, applying the Repousse process on the foil. Lastly, they’ll color their work with Sharpie Permanent Metallic Markers.


  • Recognize botanical illustrations as part of Art, Science and History.
  • Hone drawing and observational skills.
  • Give first-hand experience in the art of Repousse and recognize it in both historical and modern works of art.

Supplies Needed

Sharpie® Metallic Permanent Markers, Fine, Assorted, Set of 3
Sharpie® Metallic Permanent Markers, Fine, Assorted, Set of 6
AMACO® ArtEmboss® Aluminum Sheets, Medium Weight, Matte Black, Pack of 12
Crescent® 8 Ultra Black Mounting Board 8 x 10 in, Pack of 10
WonderFoam® Sheets, 5-1/2 x 5-1/2 in, Set of 40
Kemper Tooling Copper Tool, C3, Each
Kemper Tooling Copper Tool, C4, Each


Standard #1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
Standard #5: Develop and refine artistic work for presentation.
Standard #6: Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.
Standard #8: Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.
Standard #11: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.



Observe the botanical illustrations of American artist, Alice R Tangerini, Illustrator for the Smithsonian National History Museum. Her work will inspire the students’ Botanical Illustrations.


Discuss why Botanical Studies are done and how they are used in medical science as well as in art and history.


Collect plants to be placed on art room tables.


Create line drawings from observing the plants.


Perfect and simplify drawings so that the viewer has no trouble understanding parts of plants.


Introduce low level relief sculpture using the Repousse process. Examples: ancient armor, Greek and Roman Vases, and Tutankhamun’s Mask.


Demonstrate the Repousse process. Hand out scraps of foil and tools for the students to practice.


To create a Repousse, stack materials over one another in this order: two Sheets of foam on bottom, foil over the foam with the black side up, put tracing of plant on top of the foil. Trace over the tracing with wooden embossing tools to create line impressions from the drawings onto the foil.


Remove the foil and place it over two foam sheets.


Turn the black coated foil to its reverse side revealing the shiny silver side. Use embossing tools to push shapes forward into the foam, giving the foil a place to expand forward.


Next, color the raised shapes with the Sharpie Permanent Metallic Markers. Use scraps of black foil to practice before applying color to the Repousse.


Take the black mounting board and cut it just a bit smaller than the Repousse’s size and wrap the edges of it around the board. Glue this onto a larger board for display. Use the Sharpie Metallic Markers anywhere desired.


Critique and display.