ILLUSTRATION KNOW-HOW Collage Illustration


Trish Phillips offers some tips on using paper collage to create cutting edge artwork!

As with paints or pencils, a nice range of colours is good to work with. 


Collect a bunch of coloured papers - use cereal packets, chocolate wrappers, train tickets, photographs, pages of text, magazine images. Or create your own by mark-making on plain papers, splattering paint, adding texture. 


Colour can be daunting to begin with, if so then restrict the number of colours to two or three or keep it monotone: black, shades of grey, newspaper text, white.  


Keep it simple at first, try single characters and animals to get into your own way of working before stepping it up. The great thing about collage is you don’t need to commit; you can build up your characters, scenery, e.g. trees, houses, without gluing them down to the background. Move them around, experiment, change the background, you have so much freedom with collage.


Prefer digital? Collage and Photoshop go so well together. Cut and scan your shapes or alternatively scan your papers and save as files. 


For example, I might save a green paper as ‘grass green’ and go to this regularly to create grass. Use the polygonal lasso tool on the ‘grass green’ file to draw a grass shape, copy and paste onto your composition. Or if you have a precise shape to fill, copy and paste the ‘grass green’ file into your Photoshop image, select the precise shape with the magic wand tool, select the grass green layer so that you still have the shape highlighted and copy the selected area shape and paste. You can now delete the grass green file leaving the green cut out shape as a new layer. 


I’m sure there are many simple ways of doing this but as my ‘go to’ method I find this simple enough.  A collection of varying skin tones is also super useful to have to hand for illustrators. 


See how some of my favourite illustrators use collage in different ways:- Stephanie Wunderlich, Robin Clover, Lynne Guinta, Martin Haake

Header illustration @ Trish Phillips

Cambridge MA graduate and SCBWI-BI Illustration Committee member Trish Phillips is an author, illustrator and paper engineer. Instagram: @trish.phillips.scribbles

1 comment:

  1. We need longer than a minute on your tips and techniques Trish! : )


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