Collage: a quick and dirty primer

Most of us have created a collage at some point or the other – most commonly as teens, when we pasted fun photographs of friends and family on some chart paper, or put together a vision board with some images and text. But collage can be so much more than that!

Getting started with collage: supplies

Gather together images, newspaper and magazine clippings, painted and handmade paper, ribbon, thread, photographs, and anything else that can be glued onto a page or canvas board and you have the makings of a collage.

Pablo Picasso, Head (Tête), cut and pasted colored paper, gouache and charcoal on paperboard.

Add in some paints, pens and charcoal, and you are well on your way to creating mixed media collage pieces that are super easy and fun!

For best results, use matte medium or mod-podge to glue your collage pieces down. While you could use a glue stick, I’ve found that the paper starts to peel off after some time. I also don’t like using Fevicol because it’s thicker than matte medium or mod podge, it’s hard to spread easily, and creates wrinkles and air bubbles in the image, which is not the look I’m after.

Collage techniques: a quick and dirty primer

So now that you have scavenged up some collage supplies from around the house, what can you do with them?

Should you just glue down a few images and words and call it done? Or maybe try photo montages (combining different images to create a new scene)? How can you incorporate paints and pens and make the collage look cohesive instead of a mere collection of different images?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Source: Teesha Moore

Stick to a color palette. Draw out images and patterned and colored paper in a harmonious palette. Add in some text pages or some textured paper or solid colored paper to create areas where your eyes can rest.

Collage in a contained area. Go as wild with color and images as you like – then paint the rest of the area with one or two colors. You could create some organic texture in the “calm spaces” for interest.

Combine bold images with line work and words to create one-of-a-kind journal pages that are visually and emotionally appealing to you. (Teesha Moore does this beautifully)

Mixed media collages

Collage also lends itself beautifully to painting and mixed media. You can use it as a background layer for texture and interest, or you can use collage elements as the main composition of your piece.

Here’s an interesting mixed media art collage video I found on YouTube. I hope it gives you some interesting ideas that you can use in your art journals!

Put this lesson to work: Which of these tips rocked your socks? Create an art journal page using any one (or maybe a combination) of these tips. I added some collage – scraps from an old book and some scrapbook paper – to yesterday’s brush play page. This page is going to evolve as we go along – as of now, I still don’t know what the end result will look like!


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I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?


  1. Wow Shinjin, my 8 year old is a sucker for art and craft and lo behold we have a great piece of information to go ahead with her passion. Thank you. ?

  2. Loved that collage by Teesha Moore.
    Maybe I’ll make one with old news papers stuck haphazardly and throw in some color to give it a vintage feel. Very basic, I know. If I do it, I’ll share pics 😀

  3. I love collages with a whole ot of newpaper cuttings and pics thrown in, along with a dab of colour on the edges. It is like as though the whole collage is bursting to the seams to convey a message. HAd tried it out for a social event and it worked wonders. I loved your idead of creating organic textures, somehting I have never tried.

    • Yeah – those collages look awesome! I’ve never had too much luck with making those look cohesive, somehow, so I just admire them when I see them. 🙂

  4. Quick and Dirty ! I loved that. I think collages are a great way of creating art without actually ‘drawing’ and ‘painting’. It’s my favourite kind of art work. The three little houses are gorgeous.

    • Yup, that they are! Those houses are cute, right? I’ve been wanting to do a version of this piece since a while – hopefully once April craziness is over, I’ll finally tackle it. 🙂

  5. This is something I must try out in the holidays! I wanted to create a nice book with unused papers I’ve torn out from used books, and I think I can use this collage idea as a cover for the book! 🙂
    Will surely share it with you when it’s done!

    Awesome post, Shinjini ?❤

  6. MY personal favorite till yet. I love Collage. Last collage i made was during college and never tried after that. Bookmarking the post. I will definitely try this now. Combining mixed media and collage is great. Thanks for sharing Shinjini . This is a boon for art lovers.

  7. I have tried decoupage too, on old military boxes pasting and lathering and layering in everything from little post-it notes to DVD artwork to business-reply envelopes. This is such satisfying art. Thanks for this primer.

  8. Liked the tips and suggestions for making a collage. As you mentioned, gluestick makes the pics peel off after some time and fevicol creates wrinkles and air bubbles in the image, so what’s the best adhesive to use?

    • Photo collages are a lot of fun – I haven’t tried using newspaper as a base; maybe I will next time. Great idea!

    • lol! Those are collage too – digital collage! And there’s lots you can do with a couple of apps and an iPhone 😉

  9. This is absolutely breathtaking. I never realised there was a science of technique behind collage making. I’d just slap stuff together. of course, I am grossly un-talented, so that’s my excuse 😉 You’re patient, woman!

    • Oh, there is! And I haven’t mastered that technique too well, which is why I use collage in the background and then hide it all under layers of paint! 😉

  10. Collages are such fun to make. When my sister and I were in our teens we made a huge one – 4ft by 6ft with all our favourite ads (with lots of good looking men thrown in of course!). It took many many days yet was nowhere artistic. We loved it though and it filled up our tiny room. What you’ve put up here are beautiful. Another thing to try with the kids this summer.

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