5 Tips to Enhance Your Surrealist Collage Skills
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Explore various sources for collage materials
  2. Experiment with different techniques of cutting and tearing
  3. Play with scale and perspective for impact
  4. Incorporate texture and depth in your collage
  5. Use color theory to enhance visual harmony

If you've ever marveled at a surrealist collage and wondered how to get better at creating your own, you're in the right place. The world of surrealist collage is a playground for the imagination, brimming with unexpected juxtapositions, dream-like imagery, and visual puns. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned artist looking to push your creative boundaries, these five tips can guide your journey in getting better at surrealist collage.

Explore Various Sources for Collage Materials

The first step in creating a captivating surrealist collage is gathering your materials. Don't limit yourself to just magazines or newspapers — the world is your oyster when it comes to finding unique and engaging materials.

Old Books and Maps

Old books and maps can be treasure troves of interesting images and textures. Antique stores, flea markets or even your attic might be hiding some gems. Remember, the more varied your materials, the more unique your final piece can be.

Photographs and Postcards

Personal photographs or postcards can add a personal touch to your collage. These could be old family photos or postcards from places you've visited. Incorporating these personal elements can make your artwork more meaningful to you.

Printed Materials

Don't overlook printed materials like brochures, concert tickets, or even food packaging. These everyday items can add an unexpected twist to your collage and make it stand out. They also help in getting better at surrealist collage by challenging you to see ordinary items in an extraordinary way.

Online Resources

Thanks to the internet, you're not limited to physical materials. There are countless online resources offering free or inexpensive digital images that you can print and include in your collage. Websites like Unsplash or Pixabay are just a few examples.

To sum up, exploring various sources for your collage materials not only broadens your creative possibilities but also helps in refining your eye for interesting visuals — a crucial step in getting better at surrealist collage.

Experiment with Different Techniques of Cutting and Tearing

Once you've gathered your collage materials, the next step in your journey of getting better at surrealist collage is to experiment with different ways of cutting and tearing your materials. The way you cut or tear your materials can greatly influence the overall feel and texture of your collage.

Scissors vs. X-Acto Knives

While scissors are a great tool for cutting out simple shapes, an X-Acto knife can provide more precision, especially for intricate designs. So, if you want to cut out a complex pattern from a map or a detailed image from a book, an X-Acto knife can be your best friend.

Tearing by Hand

On the other hand, if you want to give your collage a more natural, organic look, try tearing your materials by hand. This method creates rough edges and adds a touch of unpredictability to your collage, which is always a plus when you're aiming for the surreal.

Combining Cutting and Tearing

Also, don't be afraid to mix cutting and tearing in the same collage. The contrast between the precise, clean lines of cut edges and the raw, uneven lines of torn edges can add a dynamic visual interest to your work.

Experimentation is Key

Remember, there's no right or wrong way to cut or tear your materials. The key is to experiment and find what works best for your artistic vision. So, grab those scissors, get your hands on an X-Acto knife, or simply use your hands and start exploring different cutting and tearing techniques. It's all part of the fun in getting better at surrealist collage.

Play with Scale and Perspective for Impact

Moving on, another way to elevate your surrealist collage skills involves playing with scale and perspective. It's a creative way to distort reality in your artwork, which is a defining characteristic of surrealism.

Scaling Up and Down

Consider scaling different elements of your collage. For instance, you can use a tiny image of a bird and place it next to a gigantic image of a flower. This manipulation of scale can create a striking visual effect that grabs the viewer's attention.

Playing with Perspective

Switching up the perspective of your images can also add a dash of surprise to your collage. Imagine placing an image of a skyscraper horizontally to make it look like a bridge. This shift in perspective can make your collage more intriguing and thought-provoking.

Combining Different Scales and Perspectives

The fun really starts when you combine different scales and perspectives in the same collage. Maybe that tiny bird from earlier is flying under the skyscraper-bridge. The possibilities are endless and the more you play around, the more skilled you'll become at creating impactful surrealist collages.

Breaking the Rules

Remember, surrealism is all about breaking the rules and challenging the norm. So don't be afraid to let your imagination run wild when manipulating scale and perspective. After all, getting better at surrealist collage is all about pushing your creative boundaries.

Incorporate Texture and Depth in Your Collage

Another trick to getting better at surrealist collage involves the artful addition of texture and depth. By adding texture, you turn a flat image into a tactile, touch-tempting piece of art. And by adding depth, you create layers of visual interest.

Making Use of Textured Materials

Don't limit yourself to flat paper or images. Try incorporating materials with different textures like fabric, sandpaper, or even aluminum foil. These materials can add a tactile element that makes your collage more engaging and eye-catching.

Creating Depth with Layers

Depth can be achieved by layering different elements on top of each other. This creates a sense of dimension and complexity, which can make your collage more interesting to look at. Start with a base image, and then add layers of other images or materials on top. You can also play with the opacity of your layers for a more subtle effect.

Combining Texture and Depth

When you combine texture and depth, you really start to bring your surrealist collage to life. Imagine a collage with a sandpaper moon, a fabric forest, and a glossy river flowing in the foreground. The contrasting textures and the depth created by the layers can make your collage feel like a miniature world.

Experimentation is Key

As with scaling and perspective, don't be afraid to experiment when it comes to texture and depth. Every piece of art you create is a chance to learn and grow. So keep exploring, keep experimenting, and you'll keep getting better at surrealist collage.

Use Color Theory to Enhance Visual Harmony

Color theory is a powerful tool you can use to take your surrealist collage to the next level. By understanding how colors interact and affect each other, you can create visually harmonious pieces that are pleasing to the eye.

Understanding the Color Wheel

At the heart of color theory is the color wheel, which organizes colors in a way that shows their relationships to each other. Primary colors (red, blue, and yellow), secondary colors (green, orange, and purple), and tertiary colors (mixtures of primary and secondary colors) all have a place on the wheel. Knowing how these colors relate can help you make informed choices in your collage.

Complementary and Analogous Colors

  • Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. Using complementary colors can create a vibrant look with high contrast. Think red and green, or blue and orange.
  • Analogous colors are next to each other on the wheel. They tend to look harmonious together, like a sunset with warm hues of red, orange, and yellow.

Color Mood and Symbolism

Colors also carry emotional weight and can symbolize different things. For instance, red can symbolize passion or anger, while blue might evoke feelings of calm or sadness. By choosing colors with intention, you can make your surrealist collage tell a story or evoke certain emotions.

Practicing Color Theory

Like any other aspect of art, the best way to understand color theory is by practicing. Experiment with different color combinations in your collages. See what works, what doesn't, and why. Remember, the goal is to keep improving, keep experimenting, and keep getting better at surrealist collage.

If you're ready to take your surrealist collage skills to the next level, don't miss the workshop 'Crafting a Creative Voice through Collage!' by Christine Kim. In this workshop, Christine shares her unique approach to collage art, helping you develop a distinctive voice and enhance your creative process. Start exploring now to unlock your full collage potential!