Teaching Materials - Exercise

Little Figures Collage

Name of Artist Educator: Peggy Chan
Excercise Category: Visual storytelling

Collage is a technique of an art production that could easily create visual impacts......

Concept / Inspiration:

Collage is a technique of an art production that could easily create visual impacts. It is simple and interesting to make, also easy to inspire people with different imaginations. Besides, the creator needs to take the initiative to explore the relationship between different objects. When various objects are combined together, a new level of meaning would be formed or even transform the original meaning. Therefore educator designs different collage practices for students to explore various linkages between people and environment.


By creating collage, students are allowed to make good use of various materials and methods to make prototypes. Through the use of visual elements to express abstract ideas and broaden their imaginations towards ordinary objects and break the conventional ways of using them.

Materials / Equipment:

  1. Magazines, polymer clay, bamboo sticks, scissors, glue, laminator (for making the figures)
  2. Students’ self-prepared boxes and different props (for making stage for the figures)


Inside Classroom

Workshop Description:

Part One | Creating characters (3 hours)

1. Each student thinks of one character and names him/her. Imagine the characteristics – bad or good, and the appearance. If students could project themselves onto the characters at this stage, it might help the educator to further understand students’ characteristics.

2. Cut some interesting patterns from magazines and make it a collage figure that is able to stand. Remind students of using visual elements to express the characters’ features. Encourage students to use various papers and patterns to make the collage, they could also combine it with drawings. (For instance, in Fig.1 below, tree leaves became the figure’s wings. In Fig.2, the wings on the figure are a pair of shoes, the student has also drawn ears and other body parts). At last, students could use pins to give the limbs flexible movements and make the product more fun.

【Fig.1】                                                                                   【Fig.2】

Part Two | Building the stage (2 hours)

  1. Students need to design and build a three-dimensional backdrop for the figures, just like producing a specific stage for the figure. Students can make use of some useless boxes at home like shoe boxes or cracker boxes as materials for making the backdrop. Educators could encourage students to imagine further, to imagine somewhere the figures like to stay in, what the figures hope to be surrounded by, so as to provide more details about the figures. Also remind students that everything in the backdrop like background colours and other props are meant to help the characters to tell their stories, therefore the product should not be made with an attitude of just piling things up. At last students have to take stage photos for the character.

Further practice: Students could figure out a play together, and imagine what stories have happened among these characters. It is expected that the play could involve some daily life moments. In order to present the characters and the plot more comprehensively, educator could film stop motion short videos with students. During filming, be aware that if it is unnecessary for the plot arrangement, all lighting effects should be consistent, and the action and position of the characters should be matching from frame to frame.

Note 1: If students have never done collage, they are suggested to go through once Leung Yiu Hong’s “Observation Motive” activity, so they could have a few experience to help them to be bolder and have more fun during creating figure prototypes.
Note 2: If time is available, practice taking photos for the designed characters and the backdrop with students (2 hours), and practice to handle the use of lightings and colours. Educator could first let students to try to handle the lightings and directorial photography in person, and then adopt what they have learnt onto their figure prototypes. For more details please refer to Peggy’s “Colours of light” exercise.

Expected Outcome:

The process of creation involves different creative methods, it leads to different considerations for visual elements. From two-dimensional to three-dimensional, from state to action – each transformation process is a new visual and imagination angle. It aims to allow students to try various ways to create step-by-step, and explore the most interesting project for themselves.

Actual Outcome:

  1. When students were asked to make prototypes for the figures, some of them were not prepared, so they could just do the creative task on the spot. Consequently, their prototypes failed to touch their deeper selves, and when they were working on the play, the plot failed to stick with real life experience as well. If educators hope the practices could help students reflecting more of their inner selves, it is suggested to arrange some “Self-awareness” or other similar exercises from the resources prior to this exercise or between each development stage. For instance, Chan Pak Kin’s “Personal Object”, Ho Man Kei’s and Vik Lai’s “Timeline of Curiosity”, etc. These exercises could help leading students to get in the groove. The length and depth of each exercise could be adjusted according to different conditions.
  1. When students were building the backdrop, it required a few knowledge of Installation Art.They had to handle the lighting, shadow, colour and space at the same time. Some of the students found it difficult at the beginning They found it hard to deliver a story just by using these visual elements.


St. Paul’s School (Lam Tin) Student Collective work

Pingping, a minor official who suffers from miscarriage of justice.

Grey, a successful man in front of everyone, but he is indeed confused by his sexual orientation. He likes going to the countryside to chill himself out.

Romeo, an undercover who has a sweet appearance of a girl but in fact a cool-headed man. He is always calculating some sneaky ideas.

The Monkey King, a bad-tempered Emperor who can fight well.

Stop motion short video
Name: Forbidden Paper City
Introduction: A story about an internal conflict among a modern royal family.
(Click on the image to play video)

Student Feedback:

“I did not know what does collage mean at first, I thought it was just a flat production of combining pictures and some other materials together.”

“How could artists have so many ways to build up images? They are not only recording what they saw through photography.”

Reference Materials:

Stop Motion Film:
Jan Švankmajer Dimensions of Dialogue (1982)

PES Film Submarine Sandwich (2013)