Introduction: Recycle Magazines--Collage Portaits

Picture of Recycle Magazines--Collage Portaits

I work with kids, and have tried many craft and art projects with them. Collage is a generally popular art project, however, I noticed quickly that I approached it in a completely different way. The kids I work with were significantly more creative than I was. They made abstract pictures using words and overlapping pictures. I love their creativity. I have a more direct mind, not nearly as creative. I used cut out colors, textures, and designs to make pictures (e.g. the lion and turtle in the pictures above). However, I refined it in time to making portaits of family and friends.

Note: I worked at this portrait from a picture of some friends. If they approve it, I will include the picture, but I did not include it yet.

Step 1: Prepping for the Project

Picture of Prepping for the Project

I didnt' take a picture for this step. However, before starting to make the picture, I gather at least a dozen magazines. I flip through the pages and look for colors that match skin tones, clothings colors, or background colors. Anything and everything that I thought might work, I ripped out (I didn't use all of them, and eventually I had numerous manila envelopes with different skins tones or background colors). I put all of the pictures that match even loosely into a single manila envelope. I also grab a smaller white envelope, that I used during the process. Whenever I took a picture out of the manila envelope to use on the project, I put the left over pieces into the white envelope for ready use.

Step 2: Outline and Base Colors

Picture of Outline and Base Colors

Once I prepped the project, I drew a loose outline of the subject matter. I found that it was a lot less frustration in the process to have guide lines. Note: the lines don't have to be perfect, and collage is a VERY forgiving art--you can always glue over each piece with another piece.

Once I outline the subject, I lay down a base layer. I cut out pieces of color from the magazine clippings that match the general shape of the outline and glued it in with a glue stick (don't use elmers, it can wrinkle the paper). In the picture, I found that his skin was more reddish underneath than hers. So his skin has a more red undertone. Don't worry about shading and color variation at this point. This is only a base layer and will be covered significantly (if not completely) by later clippings.

Step 3: Dark Undertones

Picture of Dark Undertones

I then laid the darkest undertones in place. This included the shadows, hair, and darker areas of skin. I continue to cut out clipping in the shape of the color variations and skin tones in the picture, overlapping each piece.

Step 4: Work Lighter on Lighter

Picture of Work Lighter on Lighter

I then laid lighter patches over the darker ones, layer by layer, trying to match up the correct skin tones for each area. Note: I've only been working on the actual skin of the subject matter, no clothes and no background. It is easy to fix areas where the lines are not perfect by overlaying the background on top.

Step 5: Continue...

Picture of Continue...

Continue to lay down lightening layers of shadows and skin tones. ALWAYS cut the pieces to flow in the direction the skin flows. Direction should match to give perspective and flowing motion.

Step 6: Continue to Lay Layers

Picture of Continue to Lay Layers

Continue to build on the base layer-darker to lighter. At this point you may have to add smaller dark section over the light for accent and ease.

Step 7: Create Variation

Picture of Create Variation

I included these pictures to see the variation in skin tone and lighting. I decided at this point to create her shirt through negative space instead of actually putting any clipping down for it.

Step 8: Background

Picture of Background

For the background I found a series of ads in a magazine with a beautiful golden fade out. It matched the picture well and create the effect I was hoping to create (slight halo effect).

Step 9: Clothing

Picture of Clothing

At this point I started to work on the clothing. (Yes, I forgot about his hand until the end). I picked various shades of textured greys and tried to recreated the direction and flow of his cap. It was the same process as the faces, i.e. i laid down an undercolor to cover the whole surface, then applied the darkest layers, the applied ever lightening clippings.

Step 10: Clothing Continued

Picture of Clothing Continued

For his shirt, I wanted it very simple and only suggestive of direction and flow. I put down a big dark section with on a lighter section for the reflection off the shoulder.

Step 11: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

So I realized at this point that I had neglected to do his hand, so I went back through and repeated the processes. I laid down the darks, then ever lightening layers on top. Once everything was done to my taste, I lightly sprayed a spray adhesive to add permanence, and signed the picture. It was eventually put behind glass in a frame, but I haven't got a picture of it yet.


abuzz_lite (author)2015-02-10

Thank You for showing us your process. I have begun my stash and look forward to creating as you have described.

boddhi15 (author)abuzz_lite2015-02-10

I'd love to see the results!!

Colonjose (author)2014-12-18

your a BEAST!!!!!!!!

pattysullivan (author)2014-06-27

You really should sell these.

boddhi15 (author)pattysullivan2014-06-27

I'm trying to think of how, but i have thought about it.

potatotime (author)2014-06-27

I love this. I used to paint, and I thought this was a painting when I first saw it.

potatotime (author)2014-06-27

I love this. I used to paint, and I thought this was a painting when I first saw it.

Dannyhail (author)2014-06-24


boddhi15 (author)Dannyhail2014-06-24


Tinyshoetime (author)2014-06-24

Truly amazing

boddhi15 (author)Tinyshoetime2014-06-24


Wanderer42 (author)2014-06-24

so well done.

boddhi15 (author)Wanderer422014-06-24

Cheers, it was fun.

tulipsbloom (author)2014-06-23

this is awesome!

boddhi15 (author)tulipsbloom2014-06-24

Thanks so much. Give it a try.

Rei42 (author)2014-06-23

so beautiful.

boddhi15 (author)Rei422014-06-24


ecsaul23 (author)2014-06-09

beautiful work! great talent

onemoroni1 (author)2014-05-27

This reminds me of something done decades ago by an artist using pornographic magazines and making collage pictures of flowers. The colors were brilliant and you had no idea the source looking at the result. Not my cup of tea though.

boddhi15 (author)onemoroni12014-05-28

This was mostly glamour and gossip magazines with a few health ones. Who was the artist?

shoots1 (author)boddhi152014-06-05

Jonathan Yeo, but he did portraits not flowers?

onemoroni1 (author)boddhi152014-05-29

Sorry, I don't remember as it was a little side article in a photo magazine.

cfuse (author)2014-05-27

Also, and I don't know if this is the appropriate place to ask, but would you consider doing commissions? I look one look at this and said "I wish I could do that!".

I can draw, but I've never been able to work in the way you do here (and I envy that terribly).

boddhi15 (author)cfuse2014-05-28

In a way this one was a commission. I made it on request (tho i didn't take any money for it). I have thought to try to make them in commission, but i don't really know the venue to do so.

cfuse (author)boddhi152014-05-28

Etsy ( is probably the go to place for these kind of sales.

cfuse (author)2014-05-27

Be sure to get a nice high quality photograph of this artwork. Magazine print and most glues contain a ton of acid, which over time degrades the piece. I wouldn't want to see something this beautiful permanently lost to that.

realmccormick (author)2014-05-27

I am an art teacher, and it very gratifying to see your well-laid out system for collage. I like to make funny collage, and also explore what funny is to different people. You could be creative like that. Now that you have this done, however, you can use it as a tool for getting toward being more creative! Make some copies of it on a color copy machine. Now use your pencils, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, to push the visual dimensions of your shades, colors, etc. Try making this look different by limiting your palette only to a grey scale, or take a black & white copy of this pic. Can you play with making the darks darker, and light's lighter to have a full scale range from white through all shades/colors/tones to get to black, eventually? What would happen if you introduced pattern into foreground, middle, and background--Now everything starts looking way different than your starting point. If you use the formal elements of art and design to guide you systematically through this creative process, you will automatically have a system for being creative. People who do not know anything about art always say there are no rules in art. Nothing could be further from the truth, but they are only speaking of subject matter, and a few of the visual components, and of course the designing…If you aim to create something in the visual that isn't there, there are many rules, and ways to do it! Great work!

sewcraftyme (author)2014-05-27

Beautiful, I suck at this and I love seeing it displayed from someone who has such a talent for it. I'm too controlling of colors, and shapes, it comes from quilting for so long I think. Others are correct, you deserve pay for this, but then it becomes a job and not joy. I get that because I am told all the time to sell my quilts - but then it wouldn't be fun anymore, just another job. Do what you love, love what you do.

alienvibes (author)2014-05-26

Nice work! Also... respect for not milking the illness to gain likes. Too many on here doing the whole sob story thing. As someone who has been there and seen family and friends there... pity is the last thing you want. A beautiful image of a beautiful moment.

boddhi15 (author)alienvibes2014-05-26

Thanks. I think you summed it up nicely-it was just a beautiful moment.

sabu.dawdy (author)2014-05-25

this is unique and very unformative

boddhi15 (author)sabu.dawdy2014-05-25

Thanks, it was fun to make!

boddhi15 (author)sabu.dawdy2014-05-25

Thanks, its a fun (but long) process.

sabu.dawdy (author)sabu.dawdy2014-05-25

sorry I was meant to write informative. but autocorrect changed it.

GriffyTheDog (author)2014-05-25

Is this picture from The Fault In Our Stars?

boddhi15 (author)GriffyTheDog2014-05-25

I worked from a picture of my friends for this, she's been ill (hence the oxygen tube). What is the fault of our stars?

painrude (author)2014-05-25

mann , you need to be paid for simply displaying such talent ... icecream for you !

painrude (author)2014-05-25

mann, you need to get paid for simply displaying such talent ... icecream for you !

mr2monster (author)2014-05-25

This is absolutely awesome..

brandismells (author)2014-05-25

just wow.

boddhi15 (author)brandismells2014-05-25


emilyvanleemput (author)2014-05-25

It looks great!!

boddhi15 (author)emilyvanleemput2014-05-25


antagonizer (author)2014-05-25

This is intensely cool. I glanced over it at first and had a hard time figuring out what you were doing. Then as I read more I realized you technique. I love it.

boddhi15 (author)antagonizer2014-05-25

Thanks! I'll try to clarify the instructable.

NTT (author)2014-05-25

Just beautiful!!

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