Torn Paper Collage

Torn paper collages are made using small pieces of paper which are glued onto a surface to create an image. In this case we’ll be making portraits using old magazines, which will provide the colourful palette you’ll need. You can also go black and white by using newspapers. The image children select for inspiration will help with some basic direction in colours, composition and proportions, but they shouldn’t expect to duplicate it. It’s simply to provide a starting point, which they can then take in any direction.


  • magazines and/or newspapers
  • base for the collage e.g. thick cardboard, mat board
  • glue stick
  • scissors
  • portrait to use as inspiration for the collage


Have a look here at  TORN PAPER COLLAGES to see some great examples. You’ll also find some on the internet.

1. Find a drawing or photograph of a face you would like to use as inspiration for this collage. You can easily find this in magazines, books, printed from the internet, or from an old record album like I did. It will be easier if the size is similar to what you will be making.

2. Use something sturdy as a base for the collage. Thick cardboard or mat board will work well. Any size will do, although something like 8 1/2″ by 11″ is ideal to start – not too big, not too small.

3. Begin by going through your magazines and tearing or cutting out the main colours you will be using e.g. skin colour, hair colour, background colour, clothing etc.

4. Next, focus on the facial features. You can either make them from scratch, or cut out the various parts (e.g. eyes, nose, mouth) from magazines and alter them with torn pieces of paper (see photos below). Beginning with the eyes is a good starting point. Skin tone paper can then be added to create the shape of the face.

Once part of the face is in place, you’ll find it’s easy to begin working on the other areas as well. Larger pieces can be used for the background, with smaller pieces added on top. Torn paper collages can involve a lot of layering, so just keep adding paper until you feel it’s finished.


Filed under collage

8 responses to “Torn Paper Collage

  1. clayer

    This is AWESOME!!! So great.


  2. Thanks Claire! It was fun to dig up that old album and use it for inspiration.

  3. That is amazing. You took a great idea and made it amazing! I am going to pin this on Pinterest!

  4. this is fantastic, I used this technique a lot when I did my A level art (many many years ago) but I haven’t seen much of it since, its more difficult than it looks to get a good finish, you have done a great job.

  5. Thank you! It works out well with kids too. Even if they just go abstract, they really get into the tearing and colour sorting. BTW, really enjoyed visiting your blog. Took me down memory lane since my kids are a bit older now. Very funny at times!

  6. I did one of these years ago and it was way more time consuming than I had originally thought! I love Chuck Close and I followed almost a graphed approach. It turned out great, as did yours! Very cool. Thanks for sharing.

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