Digital Collage

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What do we mean by digital collage?  
What’s the difference between a digital collage and a photomanipulation?

The basic definition of  Digital Collage is that it is a form of graphic art that uses virtual imagery and textures from different sources pieced and layered together (in a program such as Photoshop)  into one final assembled image. The difference between digital collage and photomanipulation is that in a digital collage the artist usually works to make it somewhat obvious that the finished image has been made by “pasting” different images together.   

    Digital collage tends to rely heavily on  traditional collage strategies such as ~
  • Chiasmage - consistent destruction of the primary motifs. The structures of various types of print, of music sheets, letters, geographic and star maps, chessboards or photographs are torn to little pieces and then put together again and glued to a base.
  • Confrontage - placing intact images next to each other, counting on hinting at some connections.
  • Crumblage - crumbling and deforming images, shifting, twisting and interrupting parts of the main motifs.
  • Montage - the technique of combining in a single composition pictorial elements from various sources, as parts of different photographs or fragments of printing, either to give the illusion that the elements belonged together originally or to allow each element to retain its separate identity as a means of adding interest or meaning to the composition.
  • Prolage - a method of creating vistas by inserting images into holes cut or torn in the base material.
  • Rollage - cutting up a picture reproduction into strips and then putting them together again according to previously laid down rules.

Digital collagistes often also use various digital techniques to make the finished product look like it is put together using traditional collage methods (illusions of taped or pasted paper, frayed or torn edges, the hint of 3D dimension in placement of different images, rough-cut edges, etc.).  Photomanipulators, on the other hand, tend to aim at an illusion of seamlessly blended and merged reality (albeit a strange and surreal one!).

Sounds simple, but in practice these distinctions can be confusing.  
So here are some obvious examples of digital collage.

Water Carnival-Digital ATC by QueenBee47   Albert and Leopold by QueenBee47   Trick Rider by Foxfires

   boy by derkert  

Matilda's New Hat by DivineIguana   black merz 2 by woefoep   Wild Blue Yonder - SD 3 by Foxfires  

collage s63 by woefoep   Upwards and Onward by DuirwaighStudios

   Absurd Dialogue by DeerDandy   Is it a fairytale? by DeerDandy   Mechanics of Thought by DivineIguana

:thumb245445712:   'MonaRausch' by DouglasHumphries   Russian Front by DouglasHumphries  

An American Hero by derkert  :thumb213465188:   Grow by DuirwaighStudios  

Collage 1. by THEVOMIST   angels by igorska   44hkl by igorska

Diagnosis: by SoniaBudner   carte postale - 023 by laflaneuse

And here are some examples of work that could be classified more comfortably as photomanipulation, rather than as digital collage.  See if you agree?

Modern Magic by alexiuss   When Pigs Fly by nine9nine9    Breaking Free by larafairie

   The Inside Out by ahermin   +The Fallen+ by moroka323

The Wing Collector by ThisYearsGirl   I must delete you of my head. by pablobarra  

© 2011 - 2021 AlteredMixedCollages
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Rueni's avatar
Thank you for this.  I'm going to do a digital collage for my assignment so I looked for examples in the internet and sadly, a lot of the results are photo-manipulated rather than collage.
KanchanMahon's avatar
That’s so true! Margaret writes so well! And her collages are brilliant! :iconhogret:
lisamarimer's avatar
This was really, really helpful. I should have read it when I first joined. This clueless newbie appreciates your input!
KanchanMahon's avatar
Glad to be of help!
collage90's avatar
Very well written article meaningful digital art :)
collage90's avatar
Unique Article !!!
LauraTringaliHolmes's avatar
Another informative journal, and the distinctions seem apparent to me, now that you've explained them. You featured great stuff, too!
DivineIguana's avatar
Thanks so much for including my works in your examples. As an artist who works in both digital and traditional collage I am glad to see such scholarly and intelligent analysis of the relation between the two.
hogret's avatar
I also work in both, and have been intrigued by the difference in process and feel.
DouglasHumphries's avatar
...a great selection of 'digital collages ' Margaret ! ( and many thanks for inclusion )

..... I wonder ( bad habit ) if traditional collagistes .... look 'ever so slightly' askance at a digital collage ? ..... kind of feel that the artist is somewhat bending the 'integrity' of a time honoured tradition....maybe because - digital work often seems to slip outside the traditional boundaries of what constitutes an 'old fashioned' collage - it blurs the lines ..( was Rauschenberg a collagist ? ) .
.... Also - I wonder how many traditional collagistes - would consider taking a high resolution photo of their traditionally assembled collage .... make a high quality print ----and declare it a separate work of art ( albeit a print ) on it's own ......because a 'digital collage seems to have no one master ( one of a kind ) unless you could call the original computer file a 'one of ' ( and I guess you could call it that if you wanted to - but who would do such a thing ? )
........ anyway - I appreciate all forms of collage done well ...and have drawn much inspiration and pleasure viewing the works of the DA collagistes .... and from your truly insightful articles on such.
KanchanMahon's avatar
What about photographs?
KanchanMahon's avatar
Meant to say, what of the original in photography?
KanchanMahon's avatar
I have never done digital collage, but having seen the results, I explored some. Certainly, I think that neither is inferior, and more importantly, both have their own advantages and drawbacks.

I don’t print images from a computer either, so I really have just what’s on hand. My challenge as a traditional collagist, is limiting myself to what images I have right now, on paper. This limitation also drives my creative process. It has helped me experiment with scale, and forced me into creative color choices.

For the digital collagist the ability to change the color or value, is where I get envious! Being locked into the images and sizes at hand, though, drives my creativity.

Last night, as I put cupid’s hair ( of two different sizes, on two madonnas of variant sizes, it became clear to me that my art, is driven by what’s at hand. I’ve often thought that as a digital collagist, I would have an embarrassment of riches.

Perhaps for me, necessity is the mother of invention.
hogret's avatar
There was a huge debate on ~ATCfanatics awhile back on the relative value of digital vs traditional ATCs. Got quite heated. People tend to have strong feelings about this. Having tried both approaches to collage, I know that digital is often much harder work. But people tend to think because trad collage is a "one-off" and it has the actual fingerprints of the artist embedded in the glue or gel medium, that it somehow carries more oomph and is more valuable to own than a print.
DouglasHumphries's avatar
..I can certainly understand why a traditional collage assembler feels that their end product carries more weight - it has a long history behind it - and is truly a 'one of kind' -
- and , after thinking about the differences -- it truly is a different animal than a 'digital collage '- and - in certain ways - more 'substantial ' ...and because of the different way light will reflect off the varied surfaces of a trad collage - it will again have an advantage over a flat 'digtal collage ' print.
......The purchaser of the trad collage also goes home - completely satisfied that they have an 'original' that they will never see again elsewhere .
So - I think - if we are staying within the trad definitions of a collage - the digital variety - kind of loses out ....that is why , I think -- personally - I would rather shed the label of 'digital collage' ( in the future ) - but aim instead for a hybrid - obliquely related - with similarities to a collage ...employing some similar aspects ...but not really a 'proper' collage .....much easier this way , I think :)
DivineIguana's avatar
I used to work in printmaking, where there was no "original" only prints...
object000's avatar
Although its something I've often though about I'm still not really sure there is a difference... Artists obviously have the right to define their work as they like, and the two groups above are well differentiated, but there is a wide middle ground between them, and its chock-full...

As digital modes of production, distribution and reproduction continue to grow (in areas other than art too) 'real' world definitions and differentiations will continue to become less and less relevant...
hogret's avatar
I agree with you. The distinctions are really blurry. There are clear examples at either end of the spectrum, but it gets really confusing somewhere in the middle!
object000's avatar
*</i> after 'are' ;)
TheFantaSim's avatar
I'm glad you wrote this. I've already mentioned to $Moonbeam13 that we need a digital category for "digital collage" and "digital editing" because neither are really "photo-manipulations". I have to categorize mine as digital>photomanipulation>conceptual because there's no other category that comes close to digital collage.
hogret's avatar
I have been using Digital Art > Mixed Media > Miscellaneous but it would be great to have a "proper" category.
TheFantaSim's avatar
"Miscellaneous" is really not a good category. It makes it difficult for your work to show up in the Search. :(
hogret's avatar
I know! I always put "Collage" in the keywords / tags, but "miscellaneous" sounds like it's just a misfit assortment.
Perhaps we should lobby for our own category? We could make cool posters and stage a march on dA headquarters, wherever they are.
TheFantaSim's avatar
:laughing: I don't think we have to go that far. :nod: But, maybe if more of us bug $Moonbeam13, it'll probably happen!
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