More Useful Tips On Making a Collage Deck

If you have not read Arnell Ando’s Useful Tips on Making a Collage Deck, do so first and then come back.

Arnell covered all of the basics. My intention here is to share helpful tips from my experience with creating my own collage deck.


Save yourself some grief and buy the best scissors you can afford up front. Arnell’s article recommends Tweezerman scissors and I have to second that recommendation. Specifically, Tweezerman #3003 Cuticle Scissors. They cost about $12.00, but are extremely sharp, thin and accurate.

An Exacto knife with a pointed tip is useful for cutting out areas while leaving the edges intact.

If you are cutting something really challenging (lots of thin outlined areas or lots of cutout areas), you might want to make a copy of it to practice on first. It is quite disheartening to lose an image you had plans for due to a cutting error.

Cutting is something that improves with practice.

When you cut images from thick paper or thin cardboard, you will sometimes find that the thickness causes a white outline to show on the image. A brown or black marker run around the outside edge will eliminate this.

mytower.jpg (14400 bytes)Coloring

Arnell’s article recommends Tombow double-ended markers. I use Le Plume II, which are also double edged and can be found at most craft stores. They come in sets suitable for various types of coloring jobs: Basics, Pastels, Garden Colors, Victorian Colors. I got a set of Basic Colors and a set of Garden Colors. They have covered all of my needs so far.

Colored pencils are also useful for coloring black and white images. I also use them for coloring paper if I need a small piece of a certain color. They give a softer look than markers and are easier to control.

Stick Glue

I used Avery Glue Sticks. I recommend you buy a box of a dozen sticks. This cost me $4.99 at Sam’s Warehouse. A single stick costs about $1.00. My deck took three sticks to complete the images and another stick to glue the fronts to the back. You may as well buy the dozen.


Make color copies of your originals to be used as the actual deck. I found that the copying process actually brightened some of the colors and made the collage look as if there were no seams. I like the copies better than the originals.

I guess this should be common sense, but I had to try it. Images shrink well, but making them bigger is more difficult. Images lose clarity as they increase in size. In a small increase, this is not too noticeable, but it is quite obvious in larger expansions.

Clean the copier glass and group like colors together – all images that are predominately blue should be copied together, all with a lot of red together, etc. I think this was mentioned in Arnell’s Tips as well.

Plan your Photocopying work ahead of time. Color copies are expensive ($1.00 for 8.5" X 11" and $2.00 for 11" X 17" at Kinko’s). You can get it done slightly cheaper at places like Office Max, but I like to make my own copies and Kinko’s has a self-service machine. If you make a mistake, tell the counter people and chances are that they won’t make you pay for it. Ask for help if you need it. I like to go late at night when they are less likely to be crowded. You can comfortably fit five cards on an 8 " X 11" copy or ten on an 11" X 17". I prefer the 8 " X 11" as I think you get a better copy when there is less color calculation for the copier to do. I could be wrong, but since it’s six of one and a half dozen of the other, why take a chance?

Calculating sizesmyworld.jpg (13342 bytes)

Some folks are not good at math – myself included - so please do not be insulted by the inclusion of this elementary math lesson.

Lets say I have an image that is four inches tall and I want it to be three inches tall to fit into the scene I have planned. How much do I shrink it by? To find the answer divide the size you want by the size you currently have. Three (what I want) divided by four (what I have) is .75 so set the copier to 75%. The same system works for enlarging. I have an image two inches tall and I want it to be four inches tall. Divide the size I want by the size I have: four (what I want) divided by two (what I have) equals two. Set the copier to 200%, but remember you will lose clarity when increasing the size. Math lesson over.


Kinko’s will laminate for $1.50 per 8 " X 11" sheet. I would put four cards on a sheet, though if they are careful, they can fit five. Stick with four to be safe. Do not laminate your originals. If they make a mistake at Kinko’s they will be ruined. If you use a copy and it’s ruined you can always make another copy. I would complain bitterly and try to get Kinko’s to pay for the second set of copies if they ruin them in the lamination process. I avoided the whole issue by buying my own laminator. This is probably not a good investment if you only plan to make one deck for your own use.

Laminating plastic comes in different levels of thickness. I used 4ml on my set and used plain card stock for the backs. Using plain card stock makes the entire back issue much easier since you cut the front and back together. If you want to use a unique back, you have to cut them out separately, glue the fronts to the backs and then trim them once glued. A friend got a very attractive result by using a marbled card stock.

Card stock makes the deck feel card-like, but it also makes it thick and hard to shuffle. My next deck will be on paper. I will let you know how that worked once I have completed the next deck.


Copyright (c) 1998 Michele Jackson