Digital class 4. Collage

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closeup photo of torn papers



Hello! Welcome to the fourth session of Selected Design Topics II. In this session we will address a two-dimensional technique known as collage.

We will learn the origin of the word collage and what we mean when we use it. We will discover who was the first person to use a term linked to collage to describe one of the first works of collage. Also, we will look at the work of a second creator who greatly helped collage to surpass Its original limits. We will recognize the discipline in which collage was born, but also the way it has been adopted by other fields, in which it Is not necessarily an artistic work, but a technique that allows us to communicate visually in an effective way. In addition, we will recognize some features of collage as is made nowadays.

We will observe that collage is not limited to the use of paper, but It includes other materials, and we will point out some examples. We will study some of the tools that are used to make a collage, while admitting that each creator has his/her favorite instruments. We will also explore some suggestions about the best materials and brands to use collage as a two-dimensional representation technique.

Finally, we will reflect on how to use the tools that we will see in a couple of videos and we will do an exercise in which we will be able to apply what we will have learned. This will be our starting point to develop the necessary skills to use collage as a representation technique that allows us to convey a message to the observer.

I wish you every success in this fourth session. Let us get started.

Content developement

he word collage comes from the French coller, which means to paste and is used to refer to the technique and to the works of art that result from pasting paper cutouts and other materials on a support.

The term papier collé (glued paper) was used for the first time by the cubist French artist Georges Braque to refer to the artistic technique he used to create «Fruit, plate and glass» (1912), on which he pasted a paper that imitated the texture of wood on white paper and then drew on it.

In the last months of 1912, Braque and the Spaniard Picasso made collages together, but in early 1913 Picasso changed Braque’s wood-imitation paper for newspaper pages to present in his compositions what life was like in his context.

Other examples of the first collages can be identified in the photomontages made by some of the Dada artists, particularly in «Cut with the Cake Knife» (1919) by the German artist Hannah Höch or in «Collage made according to the laws of chance» (1916) by the French-German artist Jean Arp (Dempsey, 2010).

Collage continued to develop to this day with its initial features, but it also gave rise to new techniques. Picasso brought the (two-dimensional) collage to three dimensions with pieces such as «Guitar» (1912), which is called assemblage, a word that describes art that is built with every day and absurd elements that the artist collects for this purpose.

Although collage had its origin in the plastic arts, and continues to develop today, it has been adopted by other disciplines (such as architecture, interior design, or graphic design) as a two-dimensional representation technique that allows these creators to communicate their ideas to the observers in an effective way. Currently, both artistic collage, as well as that used as a representation technique, continues to be developed in the traditional format, and also in the digital format by artists, architects and designers from all over the world.

The collage does not exclusively use paper as a creation material, it can include other media such as painting or drawing. In addition, it can be made up of photographs, magazines, cloth, and other ephemeral materials. The above, taking into consideration that this technique is two-dimensional.

The tools required to make a collage are very diverse. Each creator has chosen the ones that have best allowed him/her to achieve his/her specific objectives. Considering the competence of this course we recommend the following tools:

  • Cutting mat. You can find it in different sizes (20×30, 30×45 or 45×60 cm) and in different colors (blue, green, or pink). It is important because it will allow you to protect the surface you are working on and will keep your cutting instrument in good condition because cutting mats are generally 3mm thick.
  • X-Acto knife. We suggest an aluminum X-Acto knife that will allow you to make precise cuts. The Mexican Rihan brand is a good choice. Scissors will not allow you to get professional results, so we recommend avoiding their use.
  • Double sided tape. Pasting a collage has always been a challenge because it involves having sticky hands while handling the material. A choice that will allow you to keep your hands clean while placing each element of your collage in the exact place is double-sided tape. The Red top tape, which is 18mm wide and 20 m long, is a great choice. This tape is very thin, so it will not be noticeable.

See come suggestions about the tools used to make a collage and how to use them in the next videos.

About the knife:

About the double-sided tape:

  • Was It surprising to know collage Is old?
  • What materials that were not mentioned in this class could be used to make a collage?
  • Before attending this class, did you use any of the tools that were stated to make collages?
  • What Is the most challenging part when making a collage?

Now that the technical aspects to use collage as a representation technique have been solved, you will be able to do the next assignment.


Now that we have finished studying some of the most important notions on collage, let us review the content of this session.

We learned that coller means to paste and that the word collage is used to describe the technique and works of art created with cutouts that are glued onto a support. We discovered that the word papier collé was used for the first time by the artist Georges Braque to refer to his work «Fruit, plate and glass» (1912). We also found out that Picasso contributed to the creation of these types of works by adding new materials. In addition to that, he contributed to the collage expansion into three dimensions, which is known as assemblage.

We were able to recognize collage from its origin in the plastic arts, but also as a representation technique that has been used in other disciplines as a means of visual communication. Collage has evolved to become digital, although traditional collage continues to develop.

We also learned that collage does not only use paper as a material, but it also includes other media such as drawing and other materials like fabric, while remaining in two dimensions. We realized that the tools used in this technique can be very diverse, but we pointed at some of them, such as cutting mats, X-Acto knives, and double-sided tape. We also mentioned some brands.

What we learned about collage Is Important because It allows us to understand the role of collage as both, a technique and a work of art. Now, we are also able to appreciate the history and tools that lay behind every  collage.

Congratulations on completing this fourth session of Selected Design Topics II! Keep going! If you want to know how to upgrade the presentation of your drawings, you will love our next session because we will learn how to assemble our drawings. Do not miss it!

Information sources

Dempsey, Amy (2010). Styles, schools, and movements. Londres: Thames and Hudson.