Paper Towel Art - Is it magic or science?!

We have a really fun trick to share with you today. We are going to show you how to make surprise pictures using just markers, paper towel and water. This magic paper towel art will blow your child's mind. As if by magic you can make pictures or colours appear just by placing a paper towel in water. How is this possible you ask, is it magic or is it science? Whatever it is it is definitely fun!

Magic paper towel art




Kids will love making their own magic paper towel art, but before you let them get their hands on this fun science and art activity demonstrate the magic to them with a few of your own designs. They will be amazed and will be begging to make their own!

There are so many different directions you can take this surprise drawing activity. You could draw outlines that suddenly appear coloured in when they come into contact with the water, you could have extra parts to a picture appearing or you could even write secret messages. The options are endless.

If you have any paper towels left over after doing this fun paper towel activity have a go at paper towel painting or try this walking water science experiment.

magic paper towel science activity


Magic Paper Towel Art & Science Experiment in One!



paper towel rainbow activity - colour surprise picture


Paper towel art supplies:



  • Marker (permanent and washable)
  • Paper towels
  • Water in a small tray
  • Scissors


Paper towel art directions


STEP 1: Get your supplies ready


Before showing your child this magic paper towel art have all your supplies ready, this is such a fun art activity and science experiment in one that they won't want to be kept waiting!

You will need to prepare your paper towels. Do this by taking a square of paper towel and folding it in half. Then cut the paper towel so you end up with a small square with another small square behind it (see image below)

Magic paper towel art for kids


You will also need a small tray filled with water as well as a set of permanent markers and a set of washable markers.

STEP 2: Draw pictures on paper towels


Now it's time to design your pictures. Take a permanent marker and draw an image on the top layer of the folded paper towel. Start by drawing a simple design like a rainbow, you can always get more adventurous as you get into it!

surprise pictures rainbow activity for kids


When you lift up the top layer of the paper towel you will see that the pen has gone through the paper towel onto the layer below. Now it is time to colour in this outline or add to your image. Colour the image with washable markers so the colour bleeds when it is put into water.

Magic drawing - rainbow paper towel art


STEP 3: Add paper towel art to water


Now its time for the magical part of this paper towel activity. Make sure everyone is watching as this happens fast! Place the paper towel into the water. As the water soaks through the two layers of the paper towel the colours from the bottom layer will appear through the top layer of the paper towel making it look as if the colours or images have appeared by magic.

magic rainbow paper towel activity for kids

Rainbow paper towel art and science experiment

We have had so much fun with this surprise drawing activity. Here are just a few of the magic paper towel drawings that we have had a go at.

Rainbow rain cloud magic paper towel art 


For our rainbow rain cloud we drew a rain cloud on the top layer of paper towel using a permanent marker.

surprise drawings science experiment

We coloured the cloud on the second layer in using washable markers in rainbow colours.

magic drawings science experiment

We folded the top layer of the paper towel back over and got ready to add it to the water. Wait for the magic! 

paper towel art magic pictures

When added it to the water we ended up with a rainbow rain cloud! 

paper towel science experiment


Storms don't last forever surprise picture


This was made as a positive message of hope, storms don't last forever! We started by drawing a rain cloud on the top layer of the paper towel with the words 'storms don't' inside it using a permanent marker.

Storms don't last forever paper towel art

On the bottom layer of paper towel we wrote the words last forever, again in permanent marker. We then added some colour to the bottom layer using washable markers.

Storms don't last forever paper towel art and science

When added to the water the colour and words appeared creating a positive message of 'storms don't last forever".

magic paper towel art pictures. Storms don't last forever.

My 8 year old Harry wanted to give this idea a try too, here is his version.

paper towel art and science

magic paper towel art and science

Harry also has a lot of fun writing messages to me that appeared when he added the paper towel to the water.

Paper towel art for younger children


My 5 year old couldn't wait to have a go at doing her own surprise paper towel picture. She drew a unicorn on the top layer.

magic kitchen roll art and science

Underneath she added lots of rainbow colours. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of her rainbow unicorn in the water (but it is in the video of this activity above)

magic kitchen roll drawings

We hope that you have as much fun as we have doing your own magic paper towel art. Doing surprise pictures or messages is such a fun and magical art project and science experiment for kids all mixed into one. Who knew you could have so much fun with a few paper towel activities!

Magic paper towel art and science experiment. A fun spring rainbow activity for kids.

magic kitchen roll drawings science experiment

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