Torn Paper Portraits

click image to zoom in
No image caption available

Learn to create realistic-looking, collage-style portraits by arranging torn pieces of painted paper. This project is a study of values and facial structure and it’s a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle! Add pieces of magazines and books for upcycled whimsy.



  1. Mix black and white paint to create three levels of gray (dark, medium, and light). Paint a sheet of drawing paper with each gray. Then paint one sheet black and leave one sheet white.
  2. Choose a subject and produce a grayscale image either by printing or photocopying. If desired, use a posterizing filter on the photo first. Tape an acetate sheet over the image.
  3. Begin with facial features and tear small pieces of paper to match the values in the images. Glue each piece in place on the acetate sheet. Overlap pieces and work rough edges from torn paper into the composition. Continue until the entire area is covered.
  4. Remove the image from the back side, and coat the image with gloss medium to seal it permanently.