The Collage – The Creative Technique Suitable for Everyone

Collage is an exciting and versatile papercraft that does not require much in the way of technical skills, just an appreciation of shapes, textures and colours.

Brief History

The use of paper collage as an art form was pioneered in the 20th century by artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.They cut and pasted paper shapes and added them to their paintings. Matisse went on to create pure collage pieces with no painting at all. Since then, many artists have looked to the versatility of paper to help them create their artwork.

boston terrier pop dog art collage


Collage can make use of a variety of papers, ranging from commercial or handmade papers to recycled papers such as newsprint, postage stamps and bus tickets. However, remember that the type, weight and appearance of the papers can drastically alter the effect of the finished work.


For example, layers of fine, transparent paper will create a delicate effect, whereas heavier corrugated cardboard and brown paper would give more functional, industrial feel to a collage. As a general rule, heavy, textured paper will lead to bold effects; thin papers result in a lighter finish.

RM, 2009, collage on canvas, 38x46 inch

The simpler the imagery, the more imaginative you can be with the use of various papers. A piece of work can becomebusy and overcrowded if it includes lots of different types of paper.

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Paper can be creased, crinkled, crushed, pleated and curled. By using a variety of manipulating techniques you can alter the general appearance and surface quality of the paper.


Once the basics of cutting, tearing, layering and exposing have been mastered, in the world of collage it is almost impossible to make mistakes. Sections of the collage can be separately but not incorporated immediately, while you make a decisions on composition and content. Elements can be moved, added to, changed or discarded.

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Wallpaper paste and PVA glue are suitable for most collage projects. Wallpaper paste should be mixed with water to a thin consistency. PVA glue can be used undiluted, or if preferred it can by watered down to creamy consistency.

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Cutting and Tearing

The two basic methods of creating shapes for collage are cutting and tearing. Cutting is more precise, offering a quick way of making complicated shapes and patterns. The hard, clean edges that cutting produceswould work well in a geometric abstract design or an architectural cityscape.


Tearing in a controlled fashion can create simple images, and with a little practice you can gain more control over the resulting shapes. Papers can be torn with or against the grain. It is slightly harder to work against the grain, and it requires more control to produce definite shapes. If a ‘straighter’ edge is needed you must tear along the grain.

landscape collage

One Response to The Collage – The Creative Technique Suitable for Everyone

  1. Robin Panzer Art Studio 33 says:

    As a torn paper collage artist I really enjoyed this post! I get so much satisfaction using fabulously textured handmade papers to create my pet portraits. ~Robin Panzer Art Studio 33

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