Computer Collage 101

Here is a quick lesson in creating collage with Adobe Illustrator. I’m messing about with some illustrations for a book about salmon. Note that your version of Illustrator might not look the same as this demo. I’m a poor artist still using CS4.

First I draw “paths” with the pencil tool in Illustrator.
In real life, I paint a bunch of paper and scan the ones I plan to use at 300 dpi. These are placed in Illustrator outside the artboard.

Here I’ve done all the bear’s parts except the back leg. Drag the leg path over the swatch, make sure it’s in front. Then select both it and the swatch.


Under Object, choose Clipping Mask and Make it. Or just hit Command 7.

And here’s your collage leg!


Drag it to its spot and move on. If you need that swatch again, just copy the leg and paste outside the artboard. Then under Object, choose Clipping Mask and Release it. Or just hit Command Alt 7. Or, just place the file again.


I’m messing about with the fish next. I don’t like how it’s going. By the way, you can adjust color settings, etc. of your swatches using Adobe Photoshop or another program. And you can paint more paper!

The painted swatches could be done using the computer. But there is something organic about pulling out the paints and making art on paper. I’ve always thought of the computer as a handy tool and a time-saver, but not a replacement for the real thing. Here’s the most recent version of this piece. I’ll be working on it for a while before I like it!


So, that’s how I stumble along with computer collage!

UPDATE: Here’s the finished piece. You can figure out how I did it now that you’ve read the instructions!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. mfearing says:

    Nice walk through. You are a busy blogger thee days! Nice to see!

  2. Denise lynch says:

    This is great and great explanation, I think all will be great for the school!
    Have fun.

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