So I posted an instructable earlier based on collage portraits which seemed to go over well. Therefore, I wanted to take a step back and write one on the basics of using collage in a way similar to the way one would paint (i.e. in ways that look more like brush strokes and tones than random magazine clippings).
Step 1: Materials
These are relatively simple projects and only require minimal materials. It requires a piece of paper, glue sticks, manila envelopes, and magazines you want to recycle. Note: use glue sticks, not liquid glue. Liquid glue wrinkles and warps the magazine clippings as you place them.
As a preparatory step, I went through the magazines and ripped out any colors, shades, and tones I thought would be used in creating the image I selected. For example, when collaging a person i look for a lot of models whose skin tones and base colors are similar to my object image. I put all like colors and tones into different manila envelopes for easy reference later.
Step 2: Negative Space Collaging-Prep and Background
Once I pick an image, I draw a simple outline of the image on the paper for reference and placement.
At the beginning here, my approach differed depending on the type of picture i wanted to make. If i wanted to make a negative space collage like the jazz pictures on the first page, i.e. pictures that were more minimalist and contrasting, I started by creating a dark background. I preferred to use deep purples and blues (bordering on black). These clippings should flow relatively smoothly into each other.
Step 3: Negative Space Collaging-Applying Light
For negative space collaging, I put the outline I drew at the beginning aside and used it as a source of reference when adding the light. I took out various shades of white, off-white, and light grays and started to cut out sections that resembled reflected light hitting the object in my original picture. I then glued them over the darker background. At times, I needed to layer pure whites over light grays and off whites show contrast shadows in the light. I continue to apply the sections of reflected light until the image manifests over the background.
Step 4: Outline and Base Tones
For pictures that I wanted to have depth, subtlety, and colors, I generally start by identifying a complementary color to the image and laying out a base coating for that color. I cut these sections to fit into the outlines for each section. For the portraits, I look for similar skin tones. For animals, I looked for undertones (like the greens and blues in the sea turtle).
Step 5: Adding Depth and Tone
Once the base tone was laid down, I started to add darker colors over top, one layer on another. Each clipping should be cut to specific section of shadow or darkness in the original image and glued on the under pieces. When laying each layer, I cut the pieces to flow in the direction of the image section. So in the images above I cut the strips along the curves of the neck and chins.
Step 6: Adding Darks
Adding the darkest colors comes last since magazine clippings are thin and the darks may come through. At this point, I started adding hair, and again the hair should flow in the direction it flows in the image.
Step 7: Continue Adding Layers and Tones
Continue to add color on color and tone on tone, and always flowing in the direction the image flows.
Step 8: Background
When doing an image I completed the background last. This way I could use the background pieces to cover any mistakes. Overall any mistake anywhere in these projects can be fixed by gluing a new clipping over the section.
Step 9: Finishing and Preserving
Finally, I spray the collages with a sprayable fixadent designed for paper. Do many light coats, not heavy ones as it may warp the magazine pieces.