Lazy Nerd Explainer: Collage Techniques from Paper to Fabric

Lazy Nerd Explainer: Collage Techniques from Paper to Fabric

Different Types of Collage: A Comprehensive Guide

Collage is a versatile art form that can be created using different materials and techniques. Here are some of the most popular types of collage:


Photomontage is a technique of combining photograph fragments with the aim of creating a new image. The final work is often photographed itself, so it is almost impossible to notice the dividing lines of multiple images. Photomontage is a type of collage that involves combining different photographs or photographic elements to create a new image.


Photomontage was invented by the Dadaists in the early 20th century, who used photomontage to create political and social commentary. The Dadaists have been experimenting with great possibilities of photomontage since 1916. John Heartfield and George Grosz significantly contributed to the recognition of photomontage as an engaged art form. This technique was suitable for the Dadaist confrontation with bourgeois pre-war aesthetics, Germany. Photomontage has a history starting in the Victorian Era, through phases of Dadaist Avante-garde Photomontage, Surrealist Photomontage, Post-Revolution Russian Photomontage, Pre-Nazi German Photomontage, and Contemporary Photomontage.


Photomontage is the process and the result of making a composite photograph by cutting, gluing, rearranging, and overlapping two or more photographs into a new image. Sometimes the resulting composite image is photographed so that the final image may appear as a seamless physical print. A similar technique, photocollage, usually refers to large and ambitious works that added typography, brushwork, or even objects stuck to the photomontage.


Prominent artists who have used photomontage in their work include Hannah Höch, Raoul Hausmann, John Heartfield, George Grosz, Alexander Rodchenko, El Lissitsky, Gustav Klutsis, Piotr Galadzev, Varvara Stepanova, and Georges Hugnet. Today, photomontage is used by contemporary artists to create surreal and dreamlike compositions. Some famous contemporary collage artists include Laslo Antal, Lance Letscher, Raquel van Haver, and Mimmo Rotella.

How to make a photomontage

To make a photomontage, various types of image editing are used in which multiple photographs are cut up and combined to form one new image. The process involves selecting images, cutting them out, and arranging them in a new composition. Digital tools such as Adobe Photoshop can be used to create photomontages.

Photomontage is often used as a means of expressing political dissent. It was first used as a technique by the Dadaists in 1915 in their protests against the First World War. It was later adopted by the Surrealists who exploited the possibilities photomontage offered by using free association to bring together widely disparate images, to reflect the workings of the unconscious mind.

Digital Collage

Digital collage is a form of graphic art that involves combining different digital images or elements to create a new composition. It is created using digital tools such as Photoshop or Illustrator, which have made it increasingly popular in recent years due to their accessibility and flexibility.

History of Digital Collage

Digital collage is not new to the art scene. It uses the same production technique used in making a conventional hand-made collage, which is creating a whole new artwork from an assemblage of existing artistic materials. However, digital collage transcends the limits of manual hand-cutting and pasting. Contemporary artists manipulate the samples of existing artworks and assemble the images digitally with the use of particular computer programs, such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, as an essential part of the production process. The technologically advanced generation provides an area of work that has endless possibilities for today’s artists.

How to Make a Digital Collage

Creating a digital collage is not difficult, and there are many online tools and tutorials available to help you get started. You can use Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to create your digital collage, or you can use free online tools such as Canva or Adobe Express.

Examples of Digital Collage Art

Digital collage art is everywhere, and it can be found in various forms, including abstract, surreal, and vintage. There are many digital collage artists, and some of the most creative and inspiring ones include Marcin Owczarek, Julien Pacaud, Cyriak, Dewey Saunders, James Dawe, ВЕСНА, Sholim, Vasilis Marmatakis, Lola Dupre, and Ernesto Artillo.

Uses of Digital Collage

Digital collage can be used for various purposes, including social media posts or banners, email newsletters, e-cards, online advertising, and fine arts. Additionally, digital collages can be printed and framed to create unique wall art.


Assemblage is a three-dimensional art form that involves combining disparate elements, often everyday objects, to create a new artwork. The use of assemblage as an approach to making art goes back to Pablo Picasso's cubist constructions, the three-dimensional works he began to make from 1912. Assemblage can include found objects such as toys, buttons, and household items, as well as sculptural elements such as wood or metal. It can be used to create both abstract and representational artworks.

Assemblage art is similar to collage, which is a two-dimensional medium. However, assemblage typically employs unexpected, nontraditional materials, which are combined to create a sculptural piece. The resulting artwork not only retains references to its original components but also takes on new narrative meanings, which may reflect the artist's personal experience or refer to a larger sociopolitical context.

History of Assemblage Art

Assemblage art has a rich history, with artists such as Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell, Robert Rauschenberg, and Louise Nevelson being recognized as pioneers of the medium. In the 1950s and 1960s, assemblage became widely used, with artists like Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg adopting an apparently anti-aesthetic approach to making art. They used scrappy materials and found objects alongside messily applied paint to create expressionist reliefs and sculptures, earning them the title of assemblage artists.

How to Create Assemblage Art

To create an assemblage artwork, artists often collect and merge pre-existing materials, transforming their old connotations and functions. Assemblage art gives objects new meanings, makes creative connections between disparate elements, and elevates non-art materials into the realm of art. In combining readymade or found objects with varying degrees of modifications, assemblage art challenges the medium specificity that formalist critics insisted structured the progress of modern art.

Assemblage art can be made of any material, and artists can use their imagination to create unique pieces. To get started with assemblage art, you can look around your home for old items that you and your family are no longer using. You can also search for materials in junkyards, thrift stores, and other places where you can find discarded items.

Paper Collage

Paper collage is a type of collage that involves cutting and layering different types of paper, such as newspapers, magazines, and colored paper, to create a new composition. It can be used to create both representational and abstract artworks. French artist Henri Matisse once described paper collage as “painting with scissors”.


There are many techniques to create paper collage. Here are some examples:

  1. Cut Out Shapes From Painted Pieces of Paper: Paint all over your paper, let it dry, and cut out shapes. Experiment with placing your shapes to make animals, plants, or whatever you like. Once you find a design you love, use glue to secure the shapes to your background.
  2. Combine “Junk” Papers for an Interesting Background: Cut up scraps of paper, such as security envelopes or grid paper, and glue them to your paper. Then, use Modge Podge over the whole thing. Let it dry and pretty up your collage with drawings or other elements.
  3. Use Tissue Paper: Simple tissue paper can become a powerful collage element, especially when combined with hand-drawn doodles. Tissue painting is a simple and fun way to create a mosaic texture in your work.

There are many materials that can be used for paper collage. Here are some examples:

Magazine pictures, Photographs, Fancy paper, Tissue paper, Colored cardboard, Small cardboard boxes (like cereal boxes), Fabrics and materials, Natural objects, Food items, Other objects.

Famous Collage Artists

Collage has been used as an artistic medium for centuries. Some famous collage artists include:

Pablo Picasso, Kurt Schwitters, Raoul Hausmann, Man Ray, Eileen Agar, Joseph Cornell, Nancy Spero, John Stezaker, Hannah Höch

Here are some tips for creating paper collage:

  1. Consider making a book that contains your favorite collage techniques, to serve as a handy reference.
  2. Use a good pair of scissors to make cutting easier.
  3. Invest in a sharp, sturdy pair of scissors that will last a long time.
  4. Use a matte medium to “seal” the surface of paper or a canvas so that it can accept paint without wrinkling.
  5. Try painting your own papers and then cutting shapes from them to give your art an extra-special touch.

Fabric Collage

Fabric collage is a type of collage that involves using different types of fabrics, such as silk, cotton, and felt, to create a new artwork. It involves cutting and layering the fabric to create a new composition. Fabric collage can be used to create both representational and abstract artworks.


Fabric collage techniques vary depending on the artist and the desired outcome. Some techniques include cutting and layering the fabric, using gel medium to add fine details and extra layering, using netting, sheers, and tulle to add texture, and using hand embroidery stitches to enhance the design.


The supplies for fabric collages are simple: scissors, glue, paper, and fabrics. Some artists use fusing or adhesives, but others prefer to thread-paint using cotton threads.


Fabric collage has been around for decades, but it has gained popularity in recent years. Artists such as Barbara Shaw and Laura Breitman have created stunning fabric collages that have been exhibited in galleries and museums.


There are many artists who specialize in fabric collage. Some notable artists include Barbara Shaw, Laura Breitman, and Bisa Butler.

Mixed Media Collage

Mixed media collage is a type of art that combines different materials and techniques, such as paper, fabric, paint, and found objects, to create a new artwork. It allows artists to experiment with different textures and colors, and can be used to create both representational and abstract artworks.

Techniques and Materials

Mixed media collage artists use a wide range of techniques and materials to create their artworks. Some popular materials include paper, fabric, paint, found objects, and even old toothbrushes. Artists can use any medium they wish, but paper, pencil, marker, and pen are often used in a mixed media collage. Scissors and adhesives are also essential tools for creating mixed media art.


Mixed media art has been around for centuries, but the term "mixed media" began to be used in the early 20th century with the cubist collages and constructions of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Mixed media art, drawing from the efforts of early artists, made mixed media an accessible art form for both skilled and novice artists. Assemblage as well as collage can be obtained combined with acrylic and watercolor painting, rubber-stamped art, sculpture as well as altered books.

Famous Artists

There are many famous artists who are known for their mixed media collage works. Some of them include:

Pablo Picasso, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Anna Dubrowska, Martha Haversham, David Fullarton, Erik Wahlstrom.

The Techniques of Collage: How to Create Stunning Mixed Media Art

Creating a stunning mixed media collage artwork requires a combination of technical skill and artistic vision. Here are some tips on how to create a successful collage:

Choosing the Right Materials

Creating a collage involves choosing the right materials that work well together and have a cohesive color palette. The type of collage you want to create will dictate the materials you need, such as paper, fabric, paint, and found objects. Paper and fabric are the lighter-weight basics for collages, and the sky's the limit with paper selection.

Many collage artists rip pictures from magazines, take their own pictures, or buy recycled or antique paper. Other possibilities are wrapping paper, greeting cards, and product labels. For fabric, you can use cotton, silk, or even design your own fabric and have yardage printed for you.

Collage using a mixture of materials is referred to as "assemblage" or "mixed media." Collage or assemblage requires no special tools or training, and this makes it a favorite of novice artists and crafters. However, once you master the basics of this craft, it can be elevated to a true art form.

When it comes to found objects, you can use almost anything you like to create your collage. Some commonly used items are buttons, beads, feathers, leaves, twigs, small stones or pebbles, sand, tree bark, shells, wood chips or shavings, and puzzle pieces. Found objects will provide character to the piece in a way that plain paper cannot. You can also use a range of other materials, like old jewelry, metal parts, and other unique items to create a mixed media home decor piece.

Preparing Your Workspace

Before you start creating your paper collage, it's important to prepare your workspace. This includes gathering all the materials you need, setting up your workspace, and organizing your materials. Here are some tips to help you prepare your workspace:

Gather Materials
  • Paper: Collect a variety of papers, such as magazines, newspapers, scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, and tissue paper.
  • Scissors: A good pair of scissors is essential for cutting paper. Choose a pair that is comfortable to hold and has sharp blades.
  • Glue: Choose a glue that is appropriate for the type of paper you are using. A glue stick or white glue is a good choice for most papers.
  • Cutting mat: A cutting mat will protect your work surface and make it easier to cut paper.
  • Ruler: A ruler will help you make straight cuts.
  • Pencil: Use a pencil to sketch out your design before cutting and gluing.
  • Paintbrush: A paintbrush can be used to apply glue to small areas.
  • Tweezers: Tweezers can be helpful for placing small pieces of paper.
Set Up Your Workspace
  • Choose a flat surface to work on, such as a table or desk.
  • Cover your work surface with a protective covering, such as a tablecloth or newspaper.
  • Make sure you have enough space to work and that you have good lighting.
  • Keep a trash can nearby to dispose of scraps of paper.
Organize Your Materials
  • Sort your papers by color, pattern, or texture.
  • Use clear plastic folders or envelopes to store your papers.
  • Label your folders or envelopes with the type of paper inside.
  • Keep your scissors, glue, and other tools within reach.

Remember, there's no one right way to organize your materials. Find a system that works for you and helps you stay organized and inspired.

Cutting and Arranging Materials

Cutting and arranging materials for collage is an essential part of the creative process. It involves cutting out different elements from your chosen materials and arranging them on your workspace, experimenting with different compositions until you find one that works well. Starting with crisply cut paper elements is important because it allows you to test and plan your designs. In this response, we will cover tools, techniques, and composition.


The tools you need for cutting and arranging materials for collage are relatively simple. You will need scissors, a craft knife, a metal ruler, an "art" knife (X-acto style knife), a ruled cutting mat, and an acid-free glue stick.

A pair of regular and small scissors are essential for cutting out larger and smaller elements, respectively.

A craft knife is useful for trimming oddly shaped collages down to standard shapes, while an "art" knife is used for fine cutting work, such as cutting small details and negative space.

A metal ruler and ruled cutting mat help you make straight cuts and protect your work surface. An acid-free glue stick is essential for attaching your cut-out elements to your collage.


There are many techniques you can use when cutting and arranging materials for collage. One technique is to tear up images and paste them over one another, applying colored surfaces with either straight edges or organically ripped edges.

Another technique is to cut out shapes from painted pieces of paper and combine "junk" papers for an interesting background. You can also use found objects in your artwork, such as buttons, beads, and other small items.

When cutting out your elements, it's important to make sure they are crisply cut, with no jagged edges or frayed edges. This will give your collage a more polished look.


Composition is an essential aspect of cutting and arranging materials for collage. When starting a collage, it is best to think of it in terms of composition or even curation. Try using a variety of compositional techniques, such as the rule of thirds, one-point perspective, or capturing fluidity and movement in your piece.

The beauty of working with collage is that you can experiment with different compositions until you find one that works well. You can also use themes, such as color or size, to organize your elements and create a cohesive look. When you're happy with your composition, use an acid-free glue stick to attach your elements to your collage.

Layering and Overlapping

Layering and overlapping are important techniques in collage art making that can create depth and texture in your artwork. Layering involves placing one element on top of another to create depth and texture, while overlapping different materials, such as paper and fabric, can create new textures.

Adding Finishing Touches

The final step is to add finishing touches to your collage. This can include adding additional elements, such as paint or ink, to create new textures and colors. It's important to step back from your collage frequently and assess the composition to ensure that it is balanced and cohesive.

The Benefits and Challenges of Collage: What Makes It a Unique Art Form

Collage is a unique art form that offers a range of benefits and challenges to artists. Here are some of the key factors that make collage a unique and rewarding medium:

Benefits of Collage

  • Collage allows artists to experiment with different materials and textures, creating new and innovative artworks.
  • Collage is a versatile and accessible art form that can be practiced by artists of all levels and backgrounds.
  • Collage allows artists to incorporate found materials and objects into their artworks, adding a sense of depth and history to the composition.

Challenges of Collage

  • Collage requires a high level of technical skill and attention to detail, particularly when working with delicate materials.
  • Collage can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, particularly when creating large-scale or complex artworks.
  • Collage requires a strong sense of composition and artistic vision to create a successful artwork.

How to Display and Preserve Your Collage Art: Tips and Tricks

Once you have created a stunning collage artwork, it's important to display and preserve it properly. Here are some tips on how to display and preserve your collage art:

Framing Your Collage Art

Framing your collage art can help to protect it from damage and preserve it for years to come. It's important to choose a high-quality frame that is the right size and style for your artwork. You may also want to consider using UV-resistant glass to protect your artwork from fading.

Hanging Your Collage Art

When hanging your collage art, it's important to choose a secure and stable location that is free from direct sunlight and moisture. You may want to consider using picture hooks or wire to ensure that your artwork is securely fastened to the wall.

Storing and Preserving Your Collage Art

When storing your collage art, it's important to keep it in a dry and cool location that is free from direct sunlight and moisture. You may want to consider using acid-free paper to wrap your artwork and protect it from damage.



1. What materials can be used in collage?

Collage is a versatile art form that allows you to combine different materials to create a unique piece of art. Here are some materials that can be used in collage:

  • Paper: Magazine pictures, photographs, coloring book pages, newspaper clippings, playing cards, postcards, puzzle pieces, wrapping paper, craft paper, and more.
  • Fabric: Cotton balls, ribbons, yarn, lace, tulle, silk, and more .
  • Natural objects: Flowers, leaves, twigs, small stones or pebbles, sand, tree bark, shells, wood chips or shavings, ferns, dried flowers, and more.
  • Food items: Rice, colored rice, spices, and more.
  • Other objects: Buttons, confetti, craft foam, crayon shavings, fancy napkins, plastics, polystyrene packaging, vintage items, and more.

When making a collage, it's best to gather a variety of materials before you begin the process. You can find materials in your craft cupboards, magazine racks, and even your junk drawers. Another way to find materials is to take a walk outside and collect natural objects.

It's important to have the right tools and supplies for collage making. Some essential supplies include glue, brushes, scissors, and mounting board 2. You may also want to have a craft knife, a metal ruler, and a cutting mat for trimming oddly shaped collages.

Collage is a fun and creative activity that allows you to experiment with different materials and techniques. Have fun exploring and creating your own unique collage art!

2. What is the difference between collage and assemblage?

Collage and assemblage are both art forms that make use of collections of different materials. However, there are subtle differences between the two.

Collage is an art-making technique where pieces of paper, pictures, and other things are arranged and stuck down onto a surface, often including magazine and newspaper clippings, photographs, ribbons, paint, bits of colored or handmade papers, portions of other artwork or texts, and other found items. It can also include three-dimensional elements, but when the artwork becomes more three-dimensional, it is often called assemblage. Collages are normally two-dimensional forms of art that contain different items that are glued together to form a design.

Assemblages, on the other hand, are pieces of artwork that can be either three-dimensional wall hangings or sculptural walk-around pieces. They are constructed in a range of materials of different thickness, texture, and composition and normally require physical involvement from the artist, who might have to screw, nail, or weld the pieces together. Glue is not normally used as joining material for the objects. Assemblage is more of a construction piece of art than a collage.

3. Can collage be done digitally?

Yes, collage can be done digitally. Digital collage is a form of graphic art that is created by mixing together different kinds of images, textures, and concepts and composing an entirely new composition. It is a graphic design technique that transforms photos.

Digital collages are generally curated by a design team with access to unlimited stock images, which can be used to create a modern or vintage vibe.

To create a digital collage, you can use software such as Adobe Photoshop, Procreate, or Adobe InDesign. There are many tutorials and step-by-step guides available online that can help you get started with creating digital collages.

4. What is the benefit of using found objects in collage?

Collage is a versatile art form that can be created using a variety of materials, including found objects. Here are some benefits of using found objects in collage:

  1. Creativity: Using found objects in collage can be a great challenge for imagination and creativity. It encourages artists to think outside the box and use materials in new and innovative ways.
  2. Environmental awareness: Using found objects in collage can promote environmental awareness and sustainability. Upcycling waste materials into art can help reduce waste and pollution.
  3. Personalization: Found objects can add a personal touch to a collage. Each object has its own unique history and meaning, which can add depth and complexity to the artwork.
  4. Flexibility: Collage is a flexible medium that allows for layering and experimentation. Found objects can be easily incorporated into a collage and can be peeled or cut back if needed.
  5. Accessibility: Found objects are readily available and can be used to create collages without requiring any artistic skills.
  6. Symbolic release: Found object creations can be valuable in art therapy because they allow the participant to attach their own unique meaning to items that may commonly hold a completely different significance to others. Making “found object art” can also metaphorically describe a transformation attached to these items by turning them into an abstract.

5. How can I display and preserve my collage art?

Collage art is a unique and creative way to express oneself. Here are some tips on how to display and preserve your collage art:

Displaying Collage Art

When displaying your collage art, consider the following:

  1. Keep out of direct sunlight and very bright spaces: Sunlight can cause damage to all kinds of art, so picking a frame with UV-protected glass is recommended.
  2. Frame with a UV-protected glass: Picking a frame with UV-protected glass is recommended to avoid damage from sunlight.
  3. Use a mat when framing: Using a mat when framing helps the artwork stand out and prevents the artwork from adhering to the glass.
  4. Hang art in a controlled environment: Keep artwork in an environment with controlled temperature and moisture.

Preserving Collage Art

When preserving your collage art, consider the following:

  1. Seal your collage: Sealing your collage with a varnish or sealant will help protect it from dust, UV rays, and damage.
  2. Use archival materials: Use artist-grade adhesives, papers, and materials to ensure longevity.
  3. Store your collage materials properly: Store your collage materials in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  4. Organize your collage materials: Organize your collage materials by color or topic to make them easier to find and use.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your collage art is displayed and preserved properly for years to come.