Tear, Glue, and Paint Your Own Mixed-Media Masterpieces

Creative Cut & Paste Collage Tutorials

Tear, Glue, and Paint Your Own Mixed-Media Masterpieces

A primer on collage, assemblage, and mixed-media art.

By Chris Dunmire | Updated 8/17/23

Mixed Media CollageCollage art is a fun, creative, and relaxing way to begin experimenting with the endless possibilities of mixed media. This tutorial provides a loose framework for how to begin a mixed media project starting with magazine collage, adding in embellishments or found objects, and then applying additional media. After you've mastered the basics, you can explore creating your art on a variety of substrates such as book covers or wood panels and play with unique textures, effects, and more.

Part 1: Start with Magazine Collage to Practice Composition

Collage: An artistic composition of fragments (as of printed matter) pasted on a picture surface.

Tools and Materials Needed:

Magazine Collage

  • Assortment of magazines with colors, images, and typography
  • Glue, Mod Podge, or rubber cement*
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Newspaper
  • Illustration board, wood panel, or thick support that won't warp when wet
  • Paper towels
  • Water


  • Fruit/produce/onion bag netting
  • Craft beads

Mixed Media

  • Gouache, acrylic, or watercolor paint, pastels, charcoal, etc.
  • Sponge or other creative applicator

Tips on Adhesives: "White glue and Mod Podge brushed on the back of magazine pictures wrinkles the paper a lot. It's better to use Rubber Cement. Glue Sticks dry and paper that it's applied to tend to easily lift off. Magazine collage may be a beginner's art form, but it still requires some degree of skill if the artist wants it to last. Magazine collaging can be a kind of soul collaging. It can be very healing, as with all art forms. Using magazines makes for very intense collages because of the great variety of pictures and words." (Submitted by Kay Genio)

Set Up

Step 1: Set Up Art Space

Clear a workspace for yourself on a table. Spread out the newspaper and place your support on top. Get all of your materials together and place them within reach of your workspace.

Choose Elements

Step 2: Choose Collage Elements

Look through your assortment of magazines and cut or tear out pictures, elements and shapes that you like. Notice the colors, textures, and designs of your elements. Cutting creates hard edges on your pieces, whereas tearing creates softer, organic shapes and edges.

Arrange Elements

Step 3: Pre-arrange Elements

Arrange the pieces on your canvas in a design you like. Experiment with several variations and placements and notice the different effects of your designs. Add, subtract, tear, and cut your elements until you're satisfied with your composition. This is your opportunity to explore possibilities before committing to the page. Take your time and enjoy this process.

Apply Adhesive

Step 4: Apply Adhesive (to one piece at a time)

Once you are set on your design, apply adhesive to the back of each element (one at a time) with a glue stick or paint brush and position them on your canvas and finish with step 5.

Tack Down

Step 5: Tack Down Elements (One at a time)

Once adhesive is applied, press pieces down firmly and smooth out any air bubbles. Immediately wipe off any excess glue with a damp paper towel or it or will dry and leave shiny spots.

Repeat this process for each piece until all are glued down.

Allow to Dry

Step 6: Allow Collage to Dry

After all pieces are tacked down, allow your collage to dry completely.

Take your magazine collage a step further by adding subtle embellishments or larger found objects like Marcel Duchamp did with his famous creations to make assemblages.

Part 2: Add in Embellishments or Found Objects (Assemblage)

Once your basic magazine collage is finished, you can add found three-dimensional items to create a mild or more enhanced form of an assemblage.

What kinds of items can you use? Anything your heart desires! Movie ticket stubs, feathers, coins, fast-food wrappers, buttons, beads, fabric, and so much more. Watch how I added the netting from a bag of oranges and some crafting beads to my collage to turn it into an assemblage.

Step 7: Add Embellishements

Found objects that add interesting texture, color, and design to your collage piece work well for assemblage. In this case, the colorful netting from a bag of oranges complemented the colors of my collage and added an odd netting texture.

Attaching 3D objects like netting straight to your canvas might pose a challenge, but with some creative ingenuity you can figure out a solution that integrates with your design.

Add Embellishements

For instance, I cut the netting into a shape I liked and attached it to my collage by using small scraps of colored paper glued over the edges like tape. This held the netting in place on strategic edges, while allowing the bulk of it to flow freely over the underlying collage.

Step 7b

Add Embellishements

After attaching the netting, I decided to add some craft beads for interest. I was generous with the glue here and decided to gloss over the entire collage surface to coat and seal the paper.

This is reminiscent of a decoupage technique that can help protect and preserve your work. Because I had so much surface glue on my collage after applying the netting and beads, I made the decision to seal for consistency.

Add Embellishements

Step 8: Allow to Dry

After applying my found objects and covering my assemblage with glue, I put it aside to dry. At this point (after it dries) the assemblage is complete.

Ready for more? Move on to Part 3 where I'll apply background paint to my assemblage to create mixed media art.

Part 3: Apply Additional Media (Mixed Media)

Apply additional artistic mediums to create mixed media collage art. Mixed media simply means "mixing media's" like collage with paint. Common mixed media additions include pencil drawings, paints, pastels, charcoals, and markers.

Watch how I added sponge-textured gouache paint to my assemblage background to create a mixed-media collage.

Step 9: Apply Paints or Other Media

Apply Paint

Selecting two paint colors found in the magazine elements of my collage, I generously sponged on these alternating colors of gouache to create a textured background over the white space on my collage.

Tip: If your paper-based support gets too wet with paint or water, it will warp, so try to use paint and water sparingly in stages.

Apply Paint

Note that if you plan to make your collage mixed media from the outset, you have creative license to apply paint to the background at any point in creating your piece. Some like to lay down a background or partial background with paint before adding in collage elements and may even choose to layer more paint over some or all collage elements later in the process. This is where creative experimenting comes in for you — you get to decide how you want your piece to emerge.

Apply Paint

Step 10: Allow to Dry

Allow to Dry

After I painted my collage background with gouache to satisfaction, I sat it aside for a couple of hours to dry completely dry. At this point, my mixed-media collage assemblage is finished. See how easy that was?

Now that you've learned basic collage, assemblage, and mixed-media techniques, move on to the next set of tutorials to explore book cover collage, experimental textures, and creative combinations.

Next: Creative Collage Combinations

©2004, 2018 Chris Dunmire. All rights reserved.


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