Op Art Coloring with Mess-Free Techniques!


Op Art Coloring

The quick start pages included in the op art lessons I sell give you an opportunity to focus on some op art coloring techniques.
Here are 4 mess-free techniques using only markers and colored pencils that will turn your Op Art Coloring Pages into works of art!  I’ll show you in these step-by-step tutorials, how easy it is to mix up your media a little and achieve beautiful results on your next art project!

Art Supplies and Paper

The best paper for the wet media techniques is 90# drawing paper.  It takes a little effort to cut it to 8.5×11 and run it through the copier, but the results are spectacular.  For example, look at the image below and how adding water changes the colors to look like watercolors.  The blooms and fuzzy edges of color are achieved when the water carries the color on the surface of the paper.  Copy paper lets the water soak in too quickly, as a result, the marker color isn’t changed very much.
I’m using colored pencils, colored pencil sticks (colored pencils without the wood), texture plates,  and washable markers in the example for this blog post.


Op Art Coloring with Marker & Water Using Two Colors

using two marker color layered with the water technique

Pick 2 colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, 2 primary colors, or 2 shades of the same color.  This will ensure that they stay bright. For example, red and green would not make a good pair because they make brown when they mix.  (Unless you don’t mind it being brown, or course!) 


Do a double outline in the white areas of an op-art coloring page.  Gently go over the marker lines and white area with plain water.  Allow the color to flow into the center on its own.


Below is the set of coloring pages where you will find the design I used.  In addition to the 4 “OP ART” designs, there are samples from 8 other op art sets.  You can see the Op Art Coloring Pages here.

quick start and coloring pages included in Op Art Coloring Pages

Op Art Coloring with Marker & Textures

For the next example, I’m using the same washable marker and water techniques as above, but also adding a texture rubbing over areas colored with the marker first.
techniques using markers & textures
For this page, found in Op Art Using Line and Value, the goal is to have a range of value that goes progressively from light to dark.  The “Value Scale Practice” sheet (shown above) is included in the lesson.  I suggest having a scrap paper handy for students to just do lots of experimenting on first. 
After experimenting, pick out 4 techniques to put in order from light to dark, on the “Value Scale Practice” sheet.  
Here are the techniques show on the “Value Scale Practice” sheet (above).
1) Outline with marker and then go over the marker with water for a nice light area.
2), 3), and 4) Color with marker completely, then go over the marker area with a texture rubbing. 
I used a color stick which is like a colored pencil without wood. 
Students could use regular colored pencils or crayons for this step.

What Are Quick Start Pages?

When you buy an Op Art lesson from me, In addition to the step-by-step instructions for drawing your own op art designs, I’ve created these quick start pages for younger students or to jump right into adding color or trying out some techniques.  They are basically coloring pages.
They are great for teachers that need to create some technique samples in a hurry!
quick start pages included in Op Art Using Line & Value

Op Art Coloring with Markers & Colored Pencils

In the next technique example, I’m using the marker and water technique again.  This time I’m adding some shading with colored pencil to give the illusion of form in this lesson found in Op Art and the Elements of Art
techniques using markers and colored pencils together
To make this page pop, I’m using the color complements red and green.  I outlined the white area with washable markers in red and green.  I then went over the marker color and white areas with plain water.  It’s important to let the paper dry completely before adding colored pencil, otherwise the color pencil won’t stick to the page.
I used the same colors of colored pencils (red & green) and did some shading on the outside edge of the heart and in the background near the edge of the heart.  I used a blue colored pencil and darkened the shading a little (shown in the 3rd photo).  As a result of the colored pencil shading, the heart looks even more 3-dimensional.
quick start pages with Op Art and the Elements of Art


Op Art Coloring with Markers & Water

For the last technique example, I’m using the just one color of marker, but 2 techniques.  The water and marker technique used in the previous techniques next to just coloring with marker to make a solid color the the quick start page from Op Art Using Positive and Negative Shapes.
showing 2 different marker techniques - coloring in solid, and outline & using water
For this technique, I colored inside the heart (or whatever shape you are making) solid with a marker.  In the background, however, I just outlined the white areas with the marker.  I then wet the marker color and white areas gently with plain water using a soft brush.  Allowing the color to flow into the center of the shape on its own will give the area a soft fuzzy texture.   (Provided that you are using 90# drawing paper.)
The sharp edges of the solid colored heart contrasting with the soft fuzzy background gives the illusion that the heart is floating in front of the background.  This is in addition to the illusion of the implied outline of the heart created by all the edges of the black and white shapes lining up in the shape of a heart. 
You can see all the Op Art lessons  used in this post here:
Or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store:
  • Which technique did you like best? 
  • Have you given any of them a try? 
Be sure to tag Expressive Monkey in your social media posts and leave a comment below!

The Benefits of Drawing

Click on the image to get your free infographic!

Use this infographic to display in your room or share with parents, administrators, or other teachers as a way to point out some of the academic benefits of learning to draw. While they are not the only reason for using drawing as part of a balanced curriculum, they are certainly worthy of celebrating and may help you advocate for including drawing as part of your art or classroom learning experiences.

You can read more about The Benefits of Drawing in this blog post.

An op-art heart made with horizontal black lines that curve as they pass over the heart. The white spaces between the black lines are colored red alternated with green. The text says, "Mess-Free Op Art - Step-by-Step Demo".
Stacey Peters

Stacey Peters

I create engaging drawing resources that help students build confidence and express themselves through art. I'm a former elementary art teacher of 25 years turned business owner. Giving you the tools you need to bring more drawing into your classroom brings me joy.

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I create engaging drawing resources that help students build confidence and express themselves through art.


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