How to Make a Surreal Collage

Digital artists are reshaping reality with surreal collages. In this article, I'll show you how to make your own with a free online editor.

How to Make a Surreal Collage

Magazine clippings, colorful paint strokes, and newspaper cutouts held together with glue form collages we're used to seeing in notable magazines. This art form, popularized in the twentieth century, has evolved far beyond the use of paper and glue as more artists embrace the craft.

The surreal collage is one of the many techniques produced from this evolution. Digital artists juxtapose unrelated imagery to create mind-bending and bizarre collages fit for a dream. Fantasy landscapes, comical portraits, and dream-like scenes only scratch the surface of what's possible. With this artistic style, options are limitless and forgo the messiness of  traditional collages. In this article, I'll show you how to make a surreal collage of your own with an online editor.

  1. Brainstorm ideas
  2. Upload images to Kapwing Studio
  3. Edit and arrange images
  4. Export and download

Step One: Brainstorm Ideas

A quick brainstorming session is optional but recommended to get any ideas out of your head and into action. You can take a few minutes to browse surreal collages on Google or Pinterest (my personal favorite) for layouts, theme, and style ideas.

If the search results are overwhelming, try adding a descriptive term to your query. I added "aesthetic" to my search term and was significantly happier with the results. Jot down anything that catches your eye to reference in the next steps. I took note of specific elements and backgrounds that I found interesting to search for pictures with a similar style. Make sure to leave room for your creative vision!

Scrolling through Instagram accounts and art portfolios by digital artists is another way to get inspiration for your surreal collage. I've been enjoying the incredible work by Sarah Eisenlohr, a graphic designer and collage maker with a knack for beautifully piecing together images. Most of her collages feature soft color palettes, delicate flowers, and vintage magazines. The end results are whimsical landscapes.

Step Two: Upload Images to Kapwing Studio

In this example, I'm using Kapwing, a free online video editor, to make my surreal collage. You can use Kapwing on any device with a browser, but I would stick with a PC for this tutorial. Navigating the Studio can be tricky on a mobile device, especially for first-time users.

Head over to Kapwing in your browser and click Start Editing or Create a Workspace. The first option opens the Studio, while the second option prompts you to sign up for a free account. I recommend going for the latter so you can store your collage for up to two days to make future edits, and to download the final project to your device without a watermark.

There are a few ways to import images into the Studio. You can drag and drop files onto the canvas, click Upload to search your file browser, or paste an image link. You can also click Google Drive or Google Photos to sign in and import images directly from your account. Upload as many photos as you want!

If you need a few more images for your surreal collage, click Plugins and search through Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay until you find what you need. Each plugin provides high-quality images from talented creators you can use for free! Images of planets, flowers, food, and animals are popular images to consider. If you need to resize the background, click an aspect ratio under Output Size or click Custom to enter your own dimensions. I decided to use a preset aspect ratio under Popular Sizes to resize my canvas.

Step Three: Edit and Arrange Images

Now it's time to put our surreal collage together. Select your background image and click Backward to place it behind your other pictures. Begin resizing, arranging, and overlapping images to assemble your collage.

If you need to cut out a section from a picture, click Erase under Adjust and use the magic wand tool to select the area you want to remove. Drag the circle from left to right to decrease and increase the intensity of each setting to your liking. You can use the brush to clean up the edges and to remove tiny sections. The crop tool is handy if you want to work on a focused area of an image.

There are plenty of features to explore in the Studio to help you bring your vision to life. Take your time testing out each one. You can flip, rotate, and tilt images to make a creative or unusual design and adjust the brightness, saturation, contrast, and more to give a picture a new feel. I wanted my collage to appear faded for a vintage look, so I lowered the saturation on each image. To change the look of your pictures, click Adjust on the right side of the Studio, then drag the circles from left to right to modify each setting.

Step Four: Export and Download

When you're finished creating the collage, click Export Image to begin processing your project. Click Download to save the image to your computer or use the share button to post your dream-like collage to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

If you share your surreal collage on Instagram or Twitter, make sure to tag us so we can celebrate your work. If you're looking for more creative tutorials check out the related articles below and subscribe to our YouTube channel for trendy tutorials.

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