Tuesday, July 17, 2007


In this tutorial we will learn how to make a collage. Things we will need:

1. Acrylic paints (or other paints of your choice).
2. Some brushes.
3. Golden Gel Mediums (you don't have to use this particular brand, but I find it to be better than other mediums on the market).
4. Gator Foam (a piece of wood will do as well, or hard paper although paper tends to warp).
5. Crafts Roller.
6. Scraps: images, printouts, nicknacks etc.

Before doing anything, I suggest gathering your scraps and picking a theme. It could be a color theme, a particular concept, a certain style - pick one. A theme will give your work a more organized professional (for the lack of better words), unified look. I don't want this to be a mish mash of colors that clash together or images that don't relate to each other. To me such things are distracting. (THIS IS JUST MY OPINION. FEEL FREE TO EXPERIMENT WITH JUST THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I SAID).

I like earth tones and I love red and yellow. Most of my work tends to circulate around these colors. I picked the topic of World War II and the memorabilia of that time. So my theme is pretty much set. Lay out your scraps, see what you like, what you don't like, what goes good with what. There is no sense in laying out the whole collage, because I guarantee that no matter what you pictured in your head, your end result is going to be different. In fact, I never know what I am going to end up with. It takes a life of it's own. I lay things out, I play with them, but in the process, I remove images, I add other images, I remove colors, I add colors. At one point I look at it and decide that it's done. After that, I end up staring at my work for a while because what appeared before me is not what I intended and so I stare at it and either like it...or hate it :-))

Before I do anything, I usually paint my surface. I mix the paint with a gel medium to make it a little translucent in case some spots are visible through the images later on. Whether to use use gloss or matte is up to you. Pick a couple of colors or one color and apply it to the surface. I picked red and yellow.

Don't try to be perfect. Just slap it on. Wait until everything is dry and lay out your images again just to get some idea of where things are going. Once again, perfection is of no issue here.

From looking at it I eliminate a few things. The kneeling lady has to go. I don't like her there. The tanks with the soldiers are not sitting with me well also. I will remove these and save them for some other time. Now before I search for more images, I am going to apply the ones that I definitely like. This will give me a starting point. I applied them using the same gel medium. Gel mediums serve as an excellent glue.

I applied the picture of a crying girl. I love that image. I always use it. The girl must be about 80 years old now if alive at all. In it's original format, the photo is black and white. I found some old white sheets and transferred the picture of a girl onto the sheet using the gel medium (I will explain how to do it later). Then I dipped it in colored water and let it dry. Moving on. If anyone is wondering how I got the paper to appear stained and old - I used coffee. Take a plate large enough to fit a standard piece of paper. I used a basin because I was making a whole stack of papers and envelopes for future use. Put some water in and dump some cheap instant coffee in it. I put a lot. Mixed it up. Submerge the paper (or whatever you want to color) in the water. How long to keep the paper in the water is up to you. If you want it darker, keep it longer. To get the dark spots, just sprinkle the grains of coffee where you want them. They will dissolve slowly with the water and form those dark spots you see in the picture. I would suggest doing the sprinkling after you take the paper out of the water but before it is dry. Lay it flat to dry and sprinkle coffee on it. If you want those spots a little lighter, just rub it a little with your finger while paper is still wet. Experiment with it.

I laid everything out again. I found some new images to use.

I glued on a couple of more pieces.

And some more. Don't worry about not liking what you see just yet. You can always apply other images on top of the ones you don't like. That will only give your piece more depth.

Before we continue, I will show you how to transfer images onto other surfaces. In this case I am transferring onto a cotton sheet. I like the way images transfer onto fabrics. Print your image but raise the contrast a bit. I am going to use this image of an eagle. Dip your finger into the gel medium and apply it directly to the image. Make sure to cover everything.

Flip the image over with the ink side down (you should have the gel medium on the ink side) and press into the fabric. Use a roller and go over it a couple of times. Make sure it's glued to the fabric.

Wait until everything is completely dry. Dip your finger in water and start rubbing the paper.

Use more water if necessary. After a while you should see an imprint start to appear on the fabric. Be careful not to rub off the ink. Continue until all the paper is gone and you are left with the image imprinted on your fabric. Now add some color into the water that you just used and dip the fabric into it. I put a little bit of red color that sank to the bottom

When I dipped the fabric into the dish, I rubbed it against the bottom of the plate to get some red on the fabric. This is what the end result looked like after it was dry.

I glued some more pieces on:

And some more images on.

This is not done yet. I am going to stop for now. I'm tired. Will continue tomorrow :-)

If you would like me to do a different tutorial, leave a comment. If I am able, I will do it. For those of you who have tried this tutorial and absolutely loved the results, consider making a donation (paypal). You can give as little or as much as you want on my main website

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Caroline Moore said...

Many thanks for visiting my blog. I will add you to my links.

best wishes

Great tutorials and love your collages.:0)

A bird in the hand said...

Yes, of course I'll exchange links with you, and thank you for asking me.

Cheers, Colette

A bird in the hand said...

Just added to you my blog under my "Palette" links. Excellent tutorials by the way.

Jill said...

This is awesome! Of course I will exchange links with you!!! I am honored to be asked.
Good luck!

Jamie said...

I have really enjoyed your tutorials! I just used the candle wax distressing technique in my last piece. Thank you for taking the time to share with everyone! I would love to trade links with you! Love, Jamie

Rella said...

Great tutorial!!
Best ~ Rella

Healing Expressions said...

HI Lara...Thanks for taking a peek at my blog! Your site is fabulous and I'd love to exchange links with you! Happy Creating!

Sadie Olive said...

Great site. Thanks for visiting me as well. I will add you to my links.

Célia Costa said...

Great tutorial !
I loved your blog !
I will add you to my links on my blog...
Best regards,

Anonymous said...

I'm new to blogging, and haven't yet gotten my art work up on my blog, but as I'm looking for blog ideas, I'm also looking for art ideas.
I looked at your tutorial on collages, and I have a question for you. After I finish most pieces, I cover the entire image--ATC's collage, etc., with the gel medium because at a class I took I was told to do that. It definately brings out the color and adds a nice shine, but if two pieces of art lay on top of one another they stick. I've ruined several really nice pieces because of this. So here is my question. Do you cover your collages with a clear coat of something? If so, what? Do yours stick together? What am I doing wrong?
Love the tutorial!

Lara Berch Tutorials said...

I use the same clear coating you use. Any type of gel medium. I do not know if they stick together because I never really put them on top of each other. They're big and are on hard mats, so I don't have the need to stack them. I do understand though that when making scap pages, and ATC's etc..you keep them on top of each other. I don't know of a safe medium that would prevent them from sticking...I never encountered a broblem like that...What I would do however, is put tracing paper inbetween, or any other thin paper..sandwich wrap perhaps :-)...I wouldn't change the medium, just stick something in between the works. I apologise in advance if I have misunderstood your question...Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Thoroughly enjoyed your tutorial and yes I'll put you on my blog links and would appreciate the same. Question: the image you transfered to the fabric - what kind of printer did you use? Inkjet doesn't work, does it? And I guess if you don't want the mirror image, then you must start with mirror image - right?

Lara Berch Tutorials said...

1. Thanks for linking
2. For that particular image I didn't use inkjet. I ripped it out of a magazine. However, most of my collage transfers are printed on ink jet printers. It works great. What I do is I flip the image before printing it out and enhance the contrast.
Goodluck :-)
I will try and do a tutorial just on transferring.

Anonymous said...

that's beautiful!

Anonymous said...

-i live in Sweden and cannot get Golden Gel medium here. I am hoping someone will send me some as all I hear are fantastic things about it! this is a beautiful layout and I thank you for doing the tutorials!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful!! This is really cool!!

Lara Berch Tutorials said...

tegdirb92, thank you very much

Stephanie Appleton said...

That is lovely. Thank you for the tutorial.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lara,
I absolutely love your collage... really has inspired me to start creating again. Thankyou for your detailed tutorial.

For lovers of collage these artists create some amazing art collage.
Claudine Hellmuth and Kelly Angard

Belinda Manning said...

This is absolutely, without a doubt the BEST tutorial on collage and gel transfer I have ever seen. And I mean ever... written or video. Thank you for the time it took to do it and for the precision and talent you bring as a teacher.

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial! I've been wanting to start doing collages for awhile, but I didn't know where to start and this really helps. I can't wait to start creating!

Heather Robinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I was looking to do something like this for a gift. I have photos to use though - what do you recommend doing with photos (printing on paper, etc.)?

Also, someone at work did this for another friend. i do not know the guy who did this, but his collage had an amazing glaze on top of the collage - do you know what he might have used for this??

Anonymous said...

You are great. I loved your tutorials!


Anonymous said...

I'm a 1st time visitor to your site, trying to learn collage techniques. So far, I love it but wish you'd add a little more to your supply list and directions for newbies. I viewed the technique for your world war theme and it was great but would like to know the following: what kind of surface did you collage on and are there different ones to use depending on the weight of the collage or materials used? Also, when you say to print the picture of the eagle, is that on a certain type of paper in order to transfer it? What would I copy a photo of someone onto to transfer it? Do you seal the collage? With what and how many coats? Thanks for any help with this info.

Оksana said...

Many thanks for your tutorials. I am trying to make collage and your blog is very helpfull:) But still I can not do it right:((
Lara I see you have many russian images on your collage. Why I ask? Because I am russian from Latvia but living in Spain now:))
Best regards

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have a layer of scraps glued down, but unless you finish the collage tutorial I guess I'm on my own. I've tried doing this technique before with mediocre results, too old I guess. I was hoping you had a bit of magic advice.

Lara Berch Tutorials said...

burgundybelle ...it's pretty much done...it's what looks good to you...you are the one who should know whether it's finished or not :-)) Just cover it with a layer of a gel medium to keep the scraps in place..

ribby said...

thanks for the amazing tutorial, particularly the great image transfer instructions. I love your work.

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing, I think if I made something that will looks to nothing !!

Anonymous said...

I am on my third background class on collage and I keep asking myself why when this one you have done is the best, hands down!

Mahatma Coate said...

THX.I just started a class,and I have no idea,what she's about. Your tutorial returns me to the 21st Century after an absence of 40 years.