Creating Texture for Paper Collage

Creating Texture for Paper Collage

One of my favorite things to do is to create new visual textures on paper to use in my collage artwork. Today, I thought it would be fun to share with you some information about textures and a few of my favorite techniques that I use to create these papers.

What do you mean when you say textures?
For me, texture is visual interest and feeling applied to a solid color paper. Some of the papers I use, the visual interest is already applied - like words on a book page or a map image on paper. Other visual interest I create with a variety of techniques.

Why are textures important for paper collage?
The texture on the paper add interest to and, helps in creating a feel for the artwork. The textures also add details that brings a level of engagement with the completed artwork. Lastly, the combination of different textures illicit curiosity and adds energy to the creation.

What are your favorite ways to create visual textures?
First I should mention that there are so, so, so many different ways to create textures on paper. I will share with you three techniques that I love - but please know that there are many more ways to ways to create textures.

1) Rubbing/Frottage
Frottage comes from the french word, frotter, which means "to rub".
In using this technique, I place a plain piece of paper over an uneven surface and then use a drawing tool to drag over and make marks on the paper.

The uneven surfaces can be any number of items, like leaves, bubble wrap, stencils and more. I like to make my own uneven surface with school glue (like Elmers) and a chip board. I create a design or pattern (my favorite is simple, random dots) with the glue onto cardboard and allow it to dry over night. Then I have a handy surface tool for rubbing that I can reuse as needed.

My favorite drawing tool used to do this are the Prismacolor Art Stix, but crayons, markers, pencils can also be used.

2) Acrylic Paints - stencils and stamping
​I use acrylic paints in many different ways to add textures to papers but most commonly, I use stencils or household items to stamp.

You can find a wide variety of stencils at art and craft stores. For a long time, I struggled with stencils, because I was not good at applying paint evenly and the image did not come out looking "perfect". When I changed my mindset about the need for perfection, I became much happier with the stencils. No longer did I find the globs of paint, or the lighter covered areas problems - in fact both is exactly what I want. The imperfections and overlapping areas are great!

I also love to use acrylics to stamp onto papers to create textures - but I rarely use actual stamps to do this. Instead I find household items like water bottle lids, string, bubble wrap, legos, toy truck wheels, plus more. Each of these I will dip into an acrylic and then transfer the paint onto the paper.

3) Doodles and Zentagles
I freaking LOVE to doodle! And, I think that doodling is so undervalued as a form of art. In fact doodling, is what led me to art - but that's another story.

Zentangles are drawings of repeating patterns and are beautiful unto themselves. While I am not a Certified Zentangle Teacher, I have many books and I have taken a class and learned more about the method.

By using both doodles and concepts from the zentangle method, I like to create textures for my collages. The simplest of repeating patterns - like lines, or dots, or a grid pattern - can be the perfect addition to a collage.

The bonus, is that creating these papers is a relaxing and mindless activity which is a perfect break in the middle or at the end of a crazy day.

Is there anything else to know about creating textures on paper?
Yes... there are a few items that I always keep in mind when I am creating textures. 

1) Simple is better - remember that the artwork is not the textured paper. The paper can be boring and uninteresting on its own. The magic is in putting together the textures to create an image.
2) Color is paramount - meaning that when I go to make a collage, I am looking for paper to represent one color. That is why, you notice (in the examples) that the texture color added to the paper are typically within the same color family (example: light blue, and baby blue on dark blue) or are colors that are next to each other on the color wheel (example: teal and blue on green) or are just two contrasting colors (example white on black).
3) It's like play time! - Creating these papers is simply fun and childlike. Make sure to have a good time with it!

I hope you enjoyed learning more about how I create visual textured papers for paper collages. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

​Make it a HAPPY day!

Back to blog