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How To Collage: Digital Creativity While We’re Social Distancing


It’s a difficult and strange time for most people around the world as social distancing is quickly becoming the new normal. Choosing to stay inside is key to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and however you’re spending this time, we’re with you. To show our support, we’ve been searching for ideas to help you enjoy lockdown with a little creativity.  

Our new friend and digital collaborator Retrorocket.bean is coping with this pandemic situation by creating collages, and she’s agreed to give us the low-down on how we can all get in on the arty action. So, if you’re looking to start a new hobby, install Adobe Photoshop and let’s go.

Digital Collage: How To

STEP 1: PREP

Start by designing your concept and gathering the images you need to put it together. 

It’s good to think about the background, to create an environment for your collage, and then find the elements that will appear in that setting. 

For example, my concept is sky surfing, so I’ve sourced a cloudscape and some surfers. Grab your photos from free image websites or from your own stock of pics. 

Tips: 

  • If you can find human elements that are facing the background, it’s easier to graphically connect the images. 
  • Be creative with your background; the more exciting the setting, the more interesting the story.

STEP 2: RETOUCHING

  • Crop your background into a circle shape.
  • Die-cut the foreground element (in this case, the humans).
  • Play with the arrangement to create a composition that has balance.

STEP 3: COLOUR ADJUSTMENT

  • Add noise at around 10-20% to both images.
  • Desaturate human element at -100.
  • Desaturate the background image between -5 to -20.
  • Adjust the brightness, exposure and curve of both images to balance the contrast between them

Tips: 

  • If you’re getting into it, I recommend doing some research on analogous and complementary colours. It will give you some good guidance on how to make really effective adjustments.

STEP 4: POST

Share your collage online and make people happy. 

Inspired? We are. So let’s get to know our digital collage tutor a little better. 

ASAI: How did you get into collaging?

Retrorocket.bean: HonestIy, I just found out that this style of artwork is called “collage” in January 2020. From doing some research, I got interested and decided to try it for myself; I already had some Photoshop skills. When I finished an image I would post it on my private Instagram, but my friends really liked them and told me to create a public account for my posts. So I did, and now I just add new artworks when I have time. 

Who’s your favourite collage artist and why?

I love Kellette Elliott (IG: kelletteworks), a collage artist in USA. His artworks are mostly figures within a shape, whether circle, square or triangle, which perfectly fit together. The style is also quite vintage, which really inspires me and I get lots of inspiration from following #vintagecollage on Instagram. I love vintage everything–from fashion to music, so I research and follow the stuff that I like, and that’s what inspires me. 

What do you think of the art scene in Bangkok? Do you know any other collage artists in Thailand?

I think the art scene in Bangkok is limited. There are museums and galleries but I think the exhibits are only interesting to a few groups of people. The scene lacks support from the government and private sector, so it’s hard to make an impact. As for collage artists in Thailand, I’m familiar with P’Nakrob (IG: nakrobmoonmarsnut). His artwork mixes Thai style with international influences and it’s really unique and memorable.

Where do you like to work?

Home. I like to do everything at home, even studying for exams. At home, I have the freedom to do whatever I want to get inspired, like listening to loud music, and I can have complete concentration. 

A lot of your work features the moon; what’s that about?

I’m a selenophile (a moon-lover). I always take photos of the moon and sky, and the gallery on my phone is full of them. When I see the moon it just makes my day, so I like to include it in my artwork. 

What does collage mean to you?

To me, collage is not just about artistic photos, but it also reflects a feeling or mood. I think everyone has an expression of collage in their head; they just find different ways to bring it out, like saying it out loud, typing captions on their Instagram or updating their status on Facebook, rather than layering it in an image.

How can collage help right now?

It’s a bad time in Thailand, what with COVID-19 and air pollution, and I think people’s mental health is suffering. Doing something creative can lessen stress. Also, I hope my artwork will inspire people to help each other and to notice environmental issues.

For more inspiration, check out more pieces by Retrorocket.bean here:


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