Collage for Kids: Painted Tissue Paper Inspired by Eric Carle

Eric Carle Collage

I’m sure you’ve seen The Very Hungry Caterpillar and the many other wonderful children’s books, illustrated and written by Eric Carle.

Eric Carle is a children’s book writer and illustrator who creates collages with painted tissue paper to illustrate his many picture books.

Hungry CaterpillarAnimals Animals Blue Horse

We’re going to use the colorful illustrations of Eric Carle as our inspiration to make our very own painted collage.

Collage Definition

So what is a collage?

A collage is a piece of art created by sticking various materials (such as paper) onto a backing (another paper or surface).

Eric Carle’s collages are created with painted tissue paper.   The tissue paper is painted first and then cut out into various pieces to assemble his illustrations.

We’re going re-create this effect in a fun and easy art project.

Tissue paper is very thin and it can be tricky to paint.  Mr. Carle uses a very special archival tissue paper for his artwork.

We’re going to use regular tissue paper for our collage and apply our paint and color later.

Here is the supply list for this project:

  • Cutting Board
  • Tissue Paper
  • White Glue
  • Sponge Applicator
  • Scissors or X-Acto Knife
  • Pencil
  • Plain paper or White Construction Paper (backing to assemble collage on)
  • Card Stock or Construction Paper (any thick paper)

Supplies

Next, it’s time to decide what you would like to illustrate in your artwork.

We love ocean life, so we decided to create a dolphin and ocean scene.

(Note:  The next two steps can be combined if you are able to print on thick paper or cardstock with your home printer.)

  1. Find images or clip art of the main animal or shape that you would like to use and print them out on plain paper.  The color is not important since we are only going to use these shapes to create templates on thick paper or cardstock.
  2. Next, cut out your animal shapes from the plain paper.  Place those shapes on the thick paper (we used black cardstock) and trace around them.  After you’ve traced your shapes onto the thick paper, cut them out.

For the last step, use your templates and trace your shapes onto the tissue paper of your choice and cut them out.
Collage Cut Outs

Once you have all of your pieces cut out, it’s time to assemble them!

Use white glue (if it’s too thick just mix a little water in it) and your sponge applicator to glue the tissue paper pieces to the sheet of plain paper as the backing for your collage.
Carle Collage Step-by-Step

Allow your collage to lay flat to dry.  Try not to use too much glue.  The tissue paper is delicate when wet and can tear easily.

CrayPas Box

Once your collage is dry, it’s is time to add your details.

Decorate your collage with the paint /markers/crayons of your choice.

We like to use tempera paint or pastels (sticks of dry paint).

Collage Details

Our finished collage!

Final Collage

You can make one collage or illustrate your own story with several collages like Eric Carle.


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About the author

Crystal Foth manages 19 Southern California fine art studios for Mission: Renaissance Fine Art Classes. She spends her free time creating art, planning fun art projects and enjoying creative adventures with her family around Los Angeles.

View all articles by Crystal Foth

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