How To Create Geometric Collages in Adobe Illustrator (Part 1)

How To Create Geometric Collages in Adobe Illustrator

In this tutorial we will cover how to create custom geometric collages in Illustrator. We will create basically template which is divided into separate pieces which you can fill with color, to clip an image or graphic or to type something. I will show you an easy, enjoyable way where instructions can follow even and absolute beginners.

Learn to break things down

Whatever you want to do in any application, the key is to learn to break things down, into smaller pieces. That's message which I am trying to pass in my activities and posts tagged with: how things works. Everything will be much easier and will start to be obvious for everyone.

When it comes to geometric collages then we can break things and create so many variations using basic tolls, options and basic shapes: squares, circles, triangles. We are going to deal with geometric shapes with straight lines and we can create them using squares, rectangles, lines and triangles. Depend on the template we want to create sometimes rotation is needed and the rest is duplicate and merge here and there as needed.

Steps to create geometric collages

You can search for inspiration which I have found on Pinterest. You can start by recreating some of the templates to see how things works and then to proceed with your own combination suitable for your project and needs.

Step 1 Sketch your collages
The very first step is to place real World sample in Illustrator or to sketch collage on paper or using Pencil or Brush Tool as I did in this case.
collage 1 sketched using Pencil Tool


As you can see from sketched example above, we can break things into squares (although they do not look exactly as squares on sketch) and few angled lines. It is easy to create this guy using basic shape, one option from the Object menu and Line Segment Tool.

Step 2 Draw rectangles
We will draw a rectangle before anything else. Our feature collage is 3 by 6 squares. I will go with 200px per square, you can use any other unit and dimensions. The calculation is simple: 3 x 200 = 600 for width and 6 x 200 = 1200 for height.

Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) from Toolbox, click once on canvas and type 600px for Width and 1200px for Height if you are following along with me.
draw rectangle


Step 3 Split Into Grid... command
We will use a wonderful command which allows us to divide our rectangle into equal pieces in a second. With the rectangle selected, go to Object > Path > Split Into Grid... Type: 6 for number of Rows and 3 for Columns. You can turn on Preview so you can see a preview of the final result instantly. Confirm on OK and we are done in this step.
split into grid


Step 4 Draw angled lines
The remaining part is to draw lines using the Line Segment Tool (\). The beauty of working in Adobe Illustrator is that this guy is giving to the user very useful feedback like: anchor what means you are about to start drawing at the exact point of anchor point and you are not going to make any mistake. So with the Line Segment Tool active, navigate mouse over anchor point and when you see feedback: anchor, click and drag over the next anchor point then release the mouse button.
draw first angled line collage 1


Continue drawing angled lines in the exact same way and you should end up with something similar like what you see on the screenshot below.
angled lines finished collage 1


Step 5 Divide
At this point we will use Divide command from Pathfinder panel to create new shapes because angled lines will be included and will cause our squares to be divided what will give us and few triangles in our feature geometric collage.

Select the rectangle with which we are working and click on Divide in Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder).
use Divide from Pathfinder first collage


To finish this step go to Object > Ungroup and give to the rectangle (and Stroke) some color so you can use the Selection (V) or Direct Selection Tool (A) to click on individual pieces and move them around to ensure that everything is OK and the result is as expected.

Step 6 Place images, graphics...
Now you can start creating your collage. One of the things that you can do is to select pieces and to press Shift + D to switch to Draw Inside Mode what will make things easier to clip images or graphics that you have saved as separate files. You can also create graphics in Illustrator and to clip them or to change colors of individual pieces or to add some text.
place image using Draw Inside Mode first collage


Homework

For practice you can try on your own to create collage templates similar of what you see on the screenshot below. Use same technique: break things into smaller pieces and use basic shapes, Pathfinder and Shape Builder Tool. See you in the next tutorial with my solutions.
samples for homework

To be continued...

We will continue in the very next tutorial with more tips on how to create geometric collages which can be used in Illustrator or Photoshop for example.

Related tutorials:
How To Create Geometric Collages in Adobe Illustrator (Part 2)

Product used in this tutorial:
Adobe Illustrator CC 2014

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